Ford Running Out of Focus Sedans; What About Jobs?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford’s decision to abandon sedans and non-utility hatchbacks is quickly coming to a head. While the choice rubbed many of us the wrong way, we attempted to view the situation through the lens of business and urged everyone not to panic if they wanted to purchase a Fusion or Focus sedan before they were all gone.

While we’re still not going to tell you not to panic, you might want to start making some moves if you’re still interested. Michael Martinez, Automotive News’ go-to guy for all things Ford, just claimed that the automaker only has about 12,000 Focus sedans left in its inventory.

Citing Mark LaNeve, vice president of Ford’s U.S. marketing, sales and service, as his source, Martinez claimed prospective customers might want to “get em’ while [they] can.”

Meanwhile, Ford recently announced plans to tweak production at several of its domestic plants in a bid to lower costs and prioritize SUV assembly. Unlike GM, Ford says it should be able to manage that without having to eliminate any jobs. Basically, any shift Ford ends is supposed to result in staff getting work at a nearby facility. For example, Ford claims it should be able to increase production of its profitable Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs by 20 percent at Kentucky Truck after it reallocates staff from the Louisville Assembly Plant.

However, Ford’s long-term restructuring plan may still result in widespread layoffs. Things have been going rather poorly in Europe and most analysts agree that the automaker will likely cut jobs there before it even considers squashing its U.S. workforce. But the company is looking to save itself $11 billion, meaning it’s unlikely America will emerge unscathed.

Ford has already confessed its salaried workers should be ready to confront unspecified job losses by the middle of 2019. Still, the automaker aims to try and keep the brunt of that restructuring outside of North America. As for the scope, corporate spokesman Karen Hampton said “publishing a job-reduction figure at this point would be pure speculation.”

The automaker currently has 70,000 salaried employees and, while we’re also guessing, we’d expect that number to come down a bit by the end of next year. General Motors aims to shed up to 14,000 workers in North America and mothball five plants to focus on more profitable models and free up cash for electrification and mobility services. We cannot presume Ford will match those figures, even though the automaker’s proposed strategy mirrors GM’s strategy — emphasizing tech while culling less-profitable models.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley allege Ford’s restructuring will likely prove “more extensive” than GM’s. In a Monday note to investors, the team compared Ford’s planned expenses to General Motors’, while incorporating latter’s planned restructuring. “Extrapolated to Ford’s planned expenditure, this could imply 20 plants and up to [50,000] employees,” the team said. “Our estimate of Ford’s restructuring plan involves as many as [25,000] headcount reductions globally.”

The firm said layoffs likely won’t be limited to American automakers. “There are bigger forces at work driving global OEMs to rethink the fundamental idea of supporting increasingly obsolete segments, propulsion systems, and geographic regions,” Morgan Stanley said.

Assuredly. But weren’t we all being promised that new tech and electrification would open the door for a slew of new, high-paying jobs? When are those supposed to show up?

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 04, 2018

    I'd be curious to know recent the ATP of the Focus/Fusion in the fire sale.

    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Dec 04, 2018

      Well the Fusion isn't dead you can buy new 2019s while the Focus assembly stopped back in March. So all Foci are "last year's model" while the Fusion will be a mix of 18's and 19's.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Dec 05, 2018

    They cannot run out of Focuses or Foci fast enough. Having driven a number of them with their horrible automatics, small windows, and seats made out of recycled soda bottles they cannot go away fast enough. Maybe the sportier versions are better but Ford wanted top dollar for those and for the most part they are crap boxes. Fusion is different, much better.

    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Dec 05, 2018

      I just saw something that said Fusion sales were up in Nov.

  • 285exp I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.
  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...