By on May 22, 2017

Bill Ford and Mark Fields 2018 Ford F150 - Image: FordPrior to this morning’s announcement that outgoing Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields is “retiring,” Fields was in charge at the Blue Oval for nearly three years. Just a little more than ten quarters, to be more precise.

In eight of those quarters, Ford Motor Company U.S. market share declined, year-over-year.

Ford was not without excuse, of course. There was always market share to be taken if Ford wanted it. But an attempt to limit reliance on daily rental fleet sales, particularly with Ford’s passenger car division, did the automaker’s market share no favors. Ford’s transition from old F-150 to the new aluminum-bodied model was a major switch, too, and sales growth during the transition phase wasn’t easy to come by.

Nevertheless, Ford’s U.S. market share didn’t nosedive during the Mark Fields era. The burden on incoming CEO Jim Hackett’s shoulders won’t be the elevation of Ford Motor Company market share in the automaker’s home market.

No, it’s the price of a Ford share that matters right now.

Ford USA market share chart - Image: © The Truth About CarsThree weeks into Mark Fields’ tenure as CEO at Ford Motor Company, Ford shares were trading at $17.84.

Never again would Fields’ Ford be valued so highly. A year into his reign, Ford shares had fallen 17 percent. Compared with July 2015, Ford’s stock price in July 2016 was down a further 8 percent.

Prior to Fields’ ousting today, Ford shares were 39-percent lower than when Fields took higher office in Dearborn.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra took over at GM six months before Fields became CEO of Ford Motor Company. During Barra’s term, GM shares ebbed and flowed, never rising as high as the $41.04 price GM enjoyed just before Barra arrived; never falling more than one-third lower than that December 2013 mark; steadying now at roughly $33/share. That’s down about 14 percent since March.Ford MoCo share price Mark Fields era - Image: © Timothy CainIn early trading this morning, Ford shares were up slightly more than 1 percent.

Back at Ford’s sales desk, Ford Motor Company only once earned more than a 16 percent share of the U.S. auto industry while Mark Fields was in charge. That was in February 2016.

In the 18 months prior to Fields taking over from Alan Mulally, the Ford Motor Company earned greater than 16 percent market share on six occasions, albeit not once in the final nine months of Mulally’s administration.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net and a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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74 Comments on “What Happened To Ford’s U.S. Market Share During The Mark Fields Era?...”


  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Car prices are too high. There are too many models and too many low to mid range engine options. The cars all look like jellybeans, even worse than the 1990s and 2000s (with a few exceptions) Buyers can’t select options that you want to pay for without paying thousands in extra options that they don’t want to buy. It’s not looking good for the auto industry right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      Most of what you said describes German marques to a tee (one sausage, different lengths), but Fords also are a tad too precious price-wise while continuing to fall short in overall quality.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Peter M. De Lorenzo has a good take on this today:

    http://www.autoextremist.com/current/2017/5/22/the-swirling-maelstrom-overwhelms-ford.html

    Hackett came from Steelcase furniture, and has only been with Ford for a year. Was this a wise move? Who knows? I wonder how much input Alan Mulally had in the decision?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Does Fields only own that one suit?

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    New rebates for F series trucks!!

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    Sell Lincoln to some Chinese company gullible enough to want it. (Ford’s core competency are the F-Series, SUVs and Mustang.)

    I know that’s heresy, but we’ll see robo-cars go mainstream before Lincoln becomes a cash cow.

    Either that or turn Lincoln into a 100% SUV/crossover-based luxury brand.

    (that’s heresy too)

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Why on Google Earth would they do that, when Lincoln has finally turned a corner into relevance? The only bad vehicle in Lincoln’s lineup is the MKT, which some would actually argue in favor of.

      Ford needs to revitalize its volume entrants. The Fiesta/Focus/Fusion are ancient and uncompetitive in a lot of key areas (back seat space, fuel economy, performance). At the same time though it probably makes no sense to do so with those segments facing headwinds. So they’re in a tough spot. But dumping Lincoln would be a terrible move.

      • 0 avatar
        gomez

        Lincoln has not turned a corner. The only people that consider a Lincoln are those already considering a Ford but want something a little more “exclusive” or better audio systems. Lincoln is cannibalizing Ford sales, not stealing from the competition or expanding market share.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Lincoln is cannibalizing Ford sales…”

          Not really…

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Give me some examples of this cannibalization.

          • 0 avatar
            gomez

            Hmmm…let’s see: a purchase of a MKZ is one that would have gone towards a Fusion; a purchase of an MKX is one that would have gone to an Edge; need I go on?

            As I said, the people considering Lincolns were already considering a Ford. Yes, that sale stayed within the Ford-Lincoln family, but it was still one that would otherwise have gone to the Ford brand. If Ford offered their Vignale trim in the U.S., there would be zero need for Lincoln.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Hmmm…let’s see: a purchase of a MKZ is one that would have gone towards a Fusion; a purchase of an MKX is one that would have gone to an Edge; need I go on?”

            yes, you need go on. Not least to explain how that is a bad thing.

          • 0 avatar
            gomez

            It is a bad thing because it means Ford has to design, market, service, and sell two nearly identical models that are competing for the same customer. Yes, the sale ultimately stays in-house but one brand has expanded its customer base at the expense of the other. It can also negatively affect product for both brands because rather than developing one very good model, they have to somehow develop two using the same resources. This hasn’t worked for Dodge/Chrysler, Chevrolet/Buick, or Honda/Acura.

        • 0 avatar
          jeoff

          Given that a Lincoln Has higher margins than a Ford, and is pretty much based on a Ford, is that a bad thing?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Much higher margins. But is it really worth it?

            You could buy much better Japanese or German for that amount of money.

            And the Japanese and German hold their retained value better.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            From what I’ve seen Lincolns tend to get pretty big discounts. There is quite a lot of crossover in price between a fully-loaded Ford and a low/mid-level Lincoln when discounts factored in.

  • avatar
    gomez

    Ford needs to invest in better interiors. I’ve had multiple Ford rental cars over the past few years and my parents own a current-gen Escape. All are a mess of cheap, rubbery plastic. The Mustang interior looks ancient, and not in a good, intentionally-retro way.
    What bothers me most are the weird shapes of the stalks for the wipers and turn signal on the Escape. And I hate (HATE) the rotary shifter on the newer Fusions.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I think tougher times are ahead for the auto companies, but Ford and GM stock look like good long term values to buy at this level.

    Tesla looks like a house of cards that’s about to collapse.

    • 0 avatar
      Null Set

      Tesla is not about to collapse. It is about to clean Detroit’s clocks. For the simple reason that it is a software company from the ground up. No other car company is. Those not in the know think all you have to do is hire a bunch of software engineers with expertise in X, and, voila!, you’re a software company. Nothing could be further from the truth. The culture, structures of influence, and reward systems of traditional car companies are irrevocably manufacturing centric, not software centric. Consequently, software will always only be a refrigerator magnet they slap onto a manufacturing enterprise. For Tesla, it is their business, from the beginning.

      If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Sony and Blackberry were crushed in markets they had owned for decades, and both by Apple. Even though both had all the money in the world to hire all the software expertise they needed.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Yes, Tesla is better at software than the traditional automakers. Problem is eventually Tesla well start getting judged by their cars. Not everyone wants a six figure statement in their driveway. As they move more mainstream this will be an issue. Long in the tooth models and quality issues that wouldnt slip past the QC guys on the GM X body line aren’t inspiring.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I don’t pay $50k+ for software, and drive it around, true.

          (Software is important, don’t get me wrong – a badly designed infotainment system WILL make me not buy your car.

          But that’s not Tesla’s strength, anyway – “software” and “UX” are different things.)

          (Disclosure: I’m a professional software developer in a UX-intensive market.)

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            (And, yes, the ECU programming and all the CANBUS stuff is literally vital to the car running.

            But firmware isn’t Tesla’s magic strength, and the other makers all manage *that* aspect pretty well, with help from their OEMs.)

          • 0 avatar
            Null Set

            Actually, you already are. And have been for quite some time. Tires are by now the only part of a car not run by software. You’ve just been ignoring that fact.

          • 0 avatar
            2manycars

            Real cars don’t have computers or software.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Real cars don’t have computers or software.”

            Yes, I agree! But those days are gone forever.

            And so are real cars….

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          Agree with Big Al. Tesla makes a pretty desirable car right now. I dare say it is the most desirable electric car nameplate ahead of anything electrified from the Germans even. Because its so new, shiny and hip, owners are willing to put up with a lot to own and drive and be seen driving one. Schmucks like you and me that have to get to work every day to pay the mortgage cant live with a Tesla and the electro-mechanical gremlins, days out of service….all for a premium price. If Tesla can offer a high level of reliability, consistently and at a reasonable price (say 40-50k and under) then yes, they deserve the stock price because they are probably the next big thing. Right now their market cap is trading on hopes and dreams.

        • 0 avatar
          Null Set

          That is hardly something for Tesla to worry about. Making crap cars that blow up, catch fire, kill their occupants in a variety of novel ways for *decades* hasn’t put GM or Ford out of business, so obviously “being judged by the cars” doesn’t really count for much. LOL. And dynamically, Tesla’s cars are already far ahead of most of GM’s and Ford’s lineups. Really. Not a problem.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            GM *did* go out of business, genius.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “GM *did* go out of business, genius.”

            Yup.

            And should have stayed dead.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            I have bought or leased nearly a dozen new cars including one Ford, one GM and even one Land Rover. Of those dozen cars and hundreds of thousands of miles driven, I have never had a mechanical breakdown that left me stranded. Granted, driving newer vehicles under warranty helps in that regard, but do you think I would have had the same luck with tesla since their inception? That’s that sort of reliability I demand and if Tesla can pull it off and provide a mainstream price, count me in. I don’t think they are there yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Detroit does the nuts and bolts of cars better than any software company. That’s why Tesla had to consult with GM engineers on how to design the chassis and body panels to make efficient use of the assembly lines at the Nummi plant, and gave Tesla engineers tips on how to design suspension, steering, brakes, ABS, and other features to build a road-worthy vehicle.

        All the software engineers have contributed has been drive by wire systems that are cheaper to build, but are troublesome, difficult to diagnose and expensive to repair. That contrasts with drivetrains that are more durable and reliable than ever, but are going to be junked early because the electronics and software controlling the drivetrain will be too expensive to repair or replace.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        For starters, what software does Tesla make.

        Secondly and more importantly, how does is being a software company more advantageous to selling cars than being a manufacturing company? You can (and should) outsource software for cars; you cannot outsource manufacturing/design. If anything Tesla’s focus on software (which I don’t think is a thing; their main product is dreams) is a detriment, as demonstrated by some of their silly and very rudimentary manufacturing issues. If Tesla’s not a manufacturing company they should consider making the change or that Model 3 is going to be problematic.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    The onslaught of new SUVs and trucks can’t come soon enough.

    The market has peaked and as interest rates rise, sales will only flatline or decrease slightly. Maybe there will be a recession in about a year or so, or maybe we will have a long period of economic growth (Australia is 26 years and counting without a recession, so it can happen).

    Whichever the case, if Ford can’t get its act together now, what are they going to be doing when the next downturn or slowdown hits?

    They key point for me is not stock price, but profitability. They should be cost cutting as much as possible.

    As for Lincoln, it always seemed like a waste that there is not a Mustang-based coupe or 4 door coupe or sedan or X6 like Crossover that also kind of looks like an egg/toad/and/or/Frog.

    • 0 avatar
      gomez

      Agreed. It seems like a waste to have a dedicated RWD platform just for the Mustang, when they could spread it to Lincoln and create a lineup truly distinct from Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        But would anyone buy those Lincolns?

        As opposed to, well, a Titanium trim Ford?

        Lincoln’s problem is, I think, still a combination of “who cares about Lincoln and isn’t either 80 or a Town Car nut?” and “how is this any better than a nice Ford”?

        • 0 avatar
          gomez

          But that is the problem with the current lineup. There is little to make them stand out from a Titanium trim Ford other than styling which is both subjective and not differentiated enough from the Fords on which the current Lincolns are based. At least having a lineup of RWD cars would allow a larger degree of differentiation from the Ford lineup. Plus a lot of money has been invested to create the Mustang platform; having a Lincoln range based on that will help recoup the development costs.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “They should be cost cutting as much as possible.”

      I agree, but that is impossible with the UAW involved. The UAW does not want to be part of the cost-cutting.

      I say, moar robots!

      We get a better, more consistent product with robots.

      Let the UAW feed the robots.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    I think it’s about time that Ford buy back Land Rover, Jaguar and Volvo. Maybe move everybody out to Southern California. Oh, need more volume? Resurrect Mercury. And put a call into Jill Wagner. I think she’s available.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Hey, they could also pick up a huge share of Mazda equity on the cheap and get a crucial partner to help develop their small and mid-size sedans and hatchbacks.

  • avatar
    geo

    I was utterly disappointed when I started hearing about Ford’s Powershift disaster, as I felt the 2012 Focus was Ford’s LAST CHANCE to get things right and win back buyers to their cars. This was unacceptable and tragic, and I don’t think Ford will every truly recover from their history of releasing passenger cars with garbage transmissions. The 2008-10 goodwill capital has now been spent, Powershift was the nail in the coffin and will forever relegate Ford to second-or-third tier status when it comes to cars.

    I bought a lightly-used Taurus X a few years ago when everyone was excited about Ford’s newfound Mojo. Endless problems, major components failing, fluid leaks, and finally a waterpump failure that would have cost $2500 to fix. I sold it for almost nothing, and learned (again) that I probably should have bought Japanese.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Huh.

      Despite that “last chance” that you think failed, Ford’s marketshare remains … very good?

      Maybe it’s just you with the Powershift Damns Them Forever thing?

      (I mean, I certainly don’t think Ford can do no wrong – ask me about replacing a 5.4 sometime – but this?

      Meh.

      Japanese? Ask Honda about transmission failures sometime?

      Under standards like this, nobody should ever buy any car…)

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        Actually, I have an old 5.4 Ford truck and it’s incredibly reliable and the engine seems pretty indestructible. Yes, Ford’s market share is good, but there is a massive swath of the population that will never consider a Ford passenger car. They started to be won over with the 1999 Focus (which shamed the Corolla/Civic in every way) but the quality problems ruined it.

        It seemed that the public was willing to let bygones be bygones, until Powershift. I believe Focus could have possibly reached the level of Civic/Corolla in the public mind and possibly even sales, but now that opportunity is gone.

  • avatar
    NN

    I was no fan of Fields, but as a long term shareholder of Ford I have been amazed at the stock’s low price. This is a company that has made a lot of the right moves and is massively profitable right now. They successfully redid the best selling vehicle in America, sell more $50k+ vehicles than anyone else, just redid the Heavy Duty trucks for 2017 which are even more expensive (and they’re selling like mad), redid the Transit van very successfully. These are the biggest money stories. They’ve also returned to profitability in Europe and have (in the Fiesta) one of the best selling cars in Europe, and went from practically 0 to 1,000,000+ sales in Asia over the past 10 years. Although they may not be class leading in all areas they are competitive. Even Lincoln is doing better now thanks to China.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      The stock market is now all about speculation. Slow and steady productive and profitable companies do not interest speculative investors.

      Companies like GM and Ford will continue to lose value as capital moves more and more into the speculative investment bubbles until the bubble eventually pops.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        I remember a financial planner arguing that a company’s value was no longer tied to its profitability. That was in the late 1990s and he was talking about the high tech companies that imploded a few years later.

        I used to work in the railroad industry. At one point, my company had a chairman of the board who dismissed the railroad as a mature business with no opportunity for growth. He milked it for cash to fund acquisition of more exciting businesses like a truck line and a business jet service. The CEO of the railroad was an aggressive outsider who kicked stodgy VPs in the ass and inspired the troops to focus on taking good care of shippers instead of on corporate gamesmanship. Under his leadership, the railroad became more profitable than any of the chairman’s pet acquisitions. Eventually, the chairman was forced out and his acquisitions sold at a loss since he had overpaid for them to begin with.

        Another railroader I knew made a lot of money on America Online before its ill fated merger with Time Warner. He took out his profits at regular intervals and put them into Walmart so that he could sleep at night.

        The best investment advice I have heard in years came from Warren Buffet at no charge just a few days ago. Put your money into a low fee index fund tied to the S&P 500 and leave it there until you retire. Until then, invest steadily through good times and bad, especially bad since you will be buying shares at a discount compared to their long term value.

        We have a 2013 Focus SE hatchback, with the 5-speed manual, that we purchased after careful consideration of its competitors. In 4-1/2 years and 60k miles, it has done nothing to make us regret our decision. The most expensive repair has been a power window switch. My only complaints about its road manners are that it rolls a bit too much in corners and engine RPM doesn’t drop fast enough after a run up to red line at full throttle. Unfortunately, if something were to happen to it, its replacement would probably be a Mazda3 since Ford has discontinued the 5-speed in the hatchback.

    • 0 avatar

      I am sure the staff of Ford’s CFO prepared a very impressive road show deck capturing the exact same points you make. I’m sure Fields and he have delivered it earnestly and dutifully to the I-bank community (“Ford has a really great story to tell!”).

      I am also sure their hosts yawned, then asked what deals they’re making for self-driving cars, Tesla-level batteries and when will they be available.

      I didn’t like Fields’ slickness and the feeling that he reverted to business-as-usual once he took over. But I also think he’s getting something of a raw deal, as the goal posts were shifted on him.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    This is awesome. Ford is crashing and burning (hmm, like their vehicles) right before our eyes.

    And the guy that deserves the blame for all of this left in 2014. It was Big Al that cut quality. It was Big Al that is responsible for all the recalls under Fields. His business model of “profits now, recalls later” was never, ever good. Fords issues are basic and easily corrected. But yet they dump money into the Bronco and the GT which is a massive waste of resources.

    Meet the new Ford, same as the old Ford.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    My 28 year old son was recently in the market to buy his first car, preferably an SUV, after years of driving my old hand-me-downs. He’s a college graduate with an excellent job and is married without kids or any immediate plans for same. Since I have owned 34 cars and counting, he asked me to help him through the shopping and purchase process. Of my 34 cars, 30 have been a Ford product, so I naturally tried to steer him towards a Ford. However, I soon learned that the only Ford products with any appeal to him were the Mustang and the F150. His comment was that everything else “looks kinda soccer mommish”. Since he didn’t want to drive a Mustang in snow or have a full size truck, he ended up with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Now granted, the argument could be made that the Jeep would fit in well at the soccer field, but that’s not the point. The fact is he represents the exact demographic that Ford needs to sell cars to and he had very little interest. That does not bode well for FoMoCo long term, because although my car buying days are numbered, he likely has a number in his future. Unfortunately for Ford, now he’s driving a Jeep.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    Although only time will tell, I wonder if getting rid of Fields is another case of Ford being more proactive and forward-thinking. I forget the exact time frames, but remember when Ford put everything including their logo in hock to build up some cash reserves and re-engineer their processes and culture? Later when GM and Chrysler were in the dumpster, Ford was in great shape to move forward. Maybe, and only maybe, this will be the first step in an effort to get out in front of changes in the industry as a whole. I don’t think Ford is in dire straights from a financial perspective Ford right now; probably better than many competitors. This leads me to believe this could be a forward thinking move. On the other hand, Fields may have PO’d some or all of the board and they just kicked him to the curb. I’ve worked in corporate America for over 30 years and know from experience that many times changes take place with little regard to logic and reason.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Too much untested junk sold to the consumer. There was the 2011, 2012, 2013 egoboast F150 piles that kept stalling or dying until a user on the F150 forum figures out drilling a hole in the CAC fixed the problem. Then the Focus auto trans are junk. Of course there is the 1.6L motor drinking coolant & Ford wants to dodge responsibility. Then the 2016 Fusion & others 2.5L throttle body failures that killed engines on roadways, and got several owners/renters/users in accidents. Ford is too busy making future customers for Toyota & Honda. Attention Ford: most of the time those customers never come back to Ford.
    Signed, a Ford owner & stockholder.

    Those were some negatives. On the plus side investing in China is brilliant.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Ford is like John Deere, selling only to people that automatically associate a car/tractor to a brand name and assume it’s the best. Anyone with experience with either brand knows that they will never get their mess together. Ford can mismanage for the next 60 years selling lawnmower sized engines and people will still buy the product because they heard about Henry Fords famous assembly line in 5th grade and want to own a car made by the first(sic) automaker. Just gotta be a part of that.

    As an engineer mess like this has taught me that marketing is more important than the product. As long as you satisfy a persons beliefs, whether those beliefs are based in reality or not, they will be happy.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I’ll second your John Deere comment based on a sample of one.
      A number of years ago I picked up a very lightly used 345 garden tractor thinking this was the nirvana of lawn equipment.
      Not sure why Wheel Horse went out of business, but my old WH (pre Toro ownership) was far more reliable than this JD.

      • 0 avatar
        TomHend

        Belt driven mowers like the Wheel Horse are way better than shaft driven Deeres.

        I have a Wheel Horse 1974 B80 with a Kohler engine, still cutting fine.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        There a bit expensive but if you can swing a (new or used) BX series Kubota with the 2 or 3 cylinder diesels you’ll have something that will last forever.

        Biggest thing I don’t like is that none of the deck sizes (48″, 54″, 60″) come with a metal chute. My grandfathers old 4-wheel steering Kubota had a metal deck chute that could be sprung into either the up or down position. I’m sure government regulations killed that but I still wouldn’t mind having a steel chute. Granted mine is tied with rope into the up position as is.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “people will still buy the product because they heard about Henry Fords famous assembly line in 5th grade and want to own a car made by the first(sic) automaker. Just gotta be a part of that.”

      can we talk about people who actually exist, instead of stupid sh!t you just made up?

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