Ford Delays 2009 F-150 Launch Two Months

By Brendan Moore

06.20.2008

Other shoes continue to drop over at Ford, with the company sending out a press release this morning that says that the 2009 F-150 pickup truck launch has been pushed back an additional two months to late fall. Ford stated that they simply have too many 2008 F-150 pickups in their inventory still, and they need more time to sell down their existing stock.

Delaying the debut of the new F-150 is big news; the truck has been the linchpin of Ford’s profits for decades, and this sort of move is not something that Ford takes lightly, or for that matter, would do unless it just absolutely had to. Ford also announced further cuts in overall truck production for the rest of 2008 calendar year. Ford also reduced its financial outlook for 2008, saying that the recent (and massive) shift in consumer tastes from large vehicles to small, fuel-efficient vehicles has thrown their sales forecast into turmoil.

Ford now expects that sales this year will be worse than last year, and has adjusted their industry-wide forecast to a range of 14.7 million units to 15.2 million units. June sales industry-wide are currently trending at a 12.4 million unit rate if extrapolated to an annualized basis.

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, stated, “As gasoline prices average more than $4 a gallon and consumers worry about the weak U.S. economy, we see June industry-wide auto sales slowing further and demand for large trucks and SUVs at one of the lowest levels in decades. Ford has taken decisive action to respond to this accelerating shift in customer demand away from large trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossovers, and we will continue to act swiftly moving forward.” Our sources at Ford have told us that there is more to this statement than PR window-dressing; it is believed that Mulally and his senior leadership team have already decided to shut down several truck plants, invest the money to completely retool those plants, and start producing Ford’s small European models here in the U.S. as soon as possible.
Ford says publicly that they will provide more information on their future manufacturing plans at their July meeting when they announce second-quarter financial results.

Here is a copy of the official press release put out by Ford this morning:

PRESS RELEASE: FORD FURTHER CUTS TRUCK PRODUCTION

FORD FURTHER CUTS TRUCK PRODUCTION AS DEMAND SLOWS; MORE CARS, CROSSOVERS, FUEL-SAVING POWERTRAINS ADDED

Next-generation European Ford Focus and Fiesta small cars reach North America in 2010
* North American large truck and SUV production further reduced for remainder of 2008; new Ford F-150 pickup introduction timing adjusted due to market conditions and current-model sell-down
* Production reductions will be achieved through additional downtime, shift reductions and line-speed actions at Ford’s large truck and SUV assembly plants
* Production will increase for the Ford Focus sedan and Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner small utility vehicles
* Next-generation, European Ford Focus and Fiesta small cars to begin production in North America in 2010, as Ford confirms it is revising its product plan to add more small cars, crossovers and fuel-efficient powertrains, including many from Ford’s acclaimed European lineup
* More details and an updated outlook will be provided during Ford’s second-quarter financial report in July; it is clear, however, that 2008 Automotive results will be worse than 2007, cash outflows will be greater than previous guidance and, unless the economy improves, it will be difficult for Ford to break even companywide on a pre-tax basis in 2009, excluding special items
* Ford Motor Credit Company will incur a pre-tax loss this year – excluding any potential payment related to Ford’s profit maintenance agreement – primarily due to further weakness in large truck and SUV auction values; Ford Credit no longer plans a distribution payment to Ford in 2008

DEARBORN, Mich., June 20, 2008 – Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] today said it is making further reductions to its North American truck production plan while adding more small cars, crossovers and fuel-efficient powertrains, as the company responds to the continued deterioration in the U.S.business environment and the accelerated shift away from large trucks and SUVs.

“As gasoline prices average more than $4 a gallon and consumers worry about the weak U.S. economy, we see June industry-wide auto sales slowing further and demand for large trucks and SUVs at one of the lowest levels in decades,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. “Ford has taken decisive action to respond to this accelerating shift in customer demand away from large trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossovers, and we will continue to act swiftly moving forward.”

Ford now expects U.S. industry volume in 2008 – including medium and heavy vehicles – to be between 14.7 million and 15.2 million units, compared with the previous assumption of 15 million to 15.4 million units. Accordingly, in the third quarter, Ford now plans to produce 475,000 vehicles, a reduction of 50,000 units from previously announced plans and a decline of 25 percent compared with the 2007 third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Ford plans to produce 550,000 to 590,000 units, a reduction of 40,000 units from previously announced plans and a decline of 8 to 14 percent compared with the 2007 fourth quarter.

In parallel, Ford is adjusting the public introduction timing of the new 2009 Ford F-150 by approximately two months due to the industry-wide slowdown in the U.S. truck market and the need to sell down dealer inventory of the current model. The new F-150 now will go on sale in late fall.

“The new 2009 F-150 raises the bar yet again on capability, quality and durability, and we know core truck customers are eagerly awaiting its arrival,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s President of The Americas. “Our plan all along has been to introduce the new F-150 after our dealers had a chance to sell down inventory of the existing model, and – with the current slowdown in the marketplace – we decided it was prudent to adjust the start of public sale for the new truck by about two months.”

With these actions, Ford said it now is clear that 2008 pre-tax Automotive results will be worse than 2007, cash outflows to fund operating losses and restructuring will be greater than previous guidance and, unless the economy improves, it will be difficult for Ford to break even companywide on a pre-tax basis in 2009, excluding special items. Ford North America still expects to reduce annual operating costs by about $5 billion by the end of 2008 – at constant volume, mix and exchange, and excluding special items – compared with 2005.

Ford Motor Credit Company now will incur a pre-tax loss this year – excluding any potential payment related to Ford’s profit maintenance agreement – primarily due to further weakness in large truck and SUV auction values. Ford Credit no longer is planning a distribution payment to Ford in 2008.

Ford said it will provide more details on changes to its overall plan when it announces second-quarter financial results in July. In the meantime, Ford is taking the following production actions:
* Production of the 2009 F-150 now will begin in August at Kansas City Assembly Plant and in September at Dearborn Truck. One shift will be eliminated at both Kansas City (from two to one) and Dearborn (from three to two). Dearborn Truck will be idled most of the third quarter.
* Michigan Truck Plant will be idled for nine consecutive weeks beginning the week of June 23, in line with demand for the company’s full-size SUVs.
* One shift of production will be eliminated at Louisville Assembly Plant for mid-size SUVs in the third quarter.
* The line speed will be reduced at Kentucky Truck Plant for large pickups in the third quarter.
* The line speed will be reduced at Chicago Assembly in the third quarter for full-size sedans.
* Production will wind down at Cuautitlan Assembly Plant in Mexico by the end of 2008. The plant, which now produces large pickups, will be retooled for production of the new Fiesta small car for North America beginning in early 2010.
Ford also is taking the following actions to increase capacity in the third quarter:
* Oakville Assembly will add a third shift for production of the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX and all-new 2009 Ford Flex crossovers.
* Kansas City Assembly Plant’s line that produces the Ford Escape, Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid small utility vehicles will add a third shift.
* Wayne Assembly Plant’s body and paint shops will add a third shift, and the line-speed will be increased for final assembly production of the popular Ford Focus small car.

Production at Ford’s stamping, engine and transmission plants is being adjusted in line with the changes in assembly capacity.

“We view the move to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles as permanent, and we are responding to customer demand,” Mulally said. “In the near term, we are adjusting production to the actual demand – increasing small cars and crossovers and reducing large trucks and SUVs. For the long term, we are moving fast to introduce more small cars, crossovers and fuel-efficient powertrains – including more hybrids – and we will adjust our manufacturing facilities to match our updated product lineup.”
Ford said it is uniquely positioned to build on its strength today as a crossover vehicle leader, while leveraging its small car expertise in Europe and bringing more of those vehicles to North America.

In addition to hatchback and sedan versions of the European-engineered Ford Fiesta small car that goes on sale in North America in early 2010, Ford is announcing today that four- and five-door versions of the next-generation European Ford Focus small car will be produced in North America beginning in late 2010.

The new Focus will be common with Europe, South America and Asia Pacific and represent the next generation of today’s successful European Focus. Excellent fuel economy will be achieved through new highly efficient direct-injection engine technology and a new advanced six-speed transmission.

The new Focus and Fiesta – as well as other small cars and crossovers from Europe – will be part of an unprecedented period of new Ford product introductions that has only just begun in North America. The new Ford Flex crossover and Lincoln MKS sedan went on sale this month, and the new F-150 goes on sale in late fall. New versions of the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ mid-size cars debut late this year, as do all-new hybrid versions of the Fusion and Milan.

By the end of this year, 70 percent of all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products by volume in North America will be new or significantly upgraded compared with the 2006 models. By the end of 2010, 100 percent of the product lineup will be new, including in 2009 the next-generation Mustang, new fuel-saving EcoBoost engines and new European Transit Connect.

“We remain absolutely committed to accelerating the development of the new products that customers want and value,” Mulally said. “We sell some of the best smaller cars and utility vehicles in the world in our profitable European and South American operations, and our plan is to introduce these same vehicles in North America as quickly as possible. This is an integral part of our plan to leverage our global assets and achieve our goal of profitable growth.”

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 244,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s core and affiliated automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo and Mazda. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

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COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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3 Comments

  1. You have to believe that as the pickup truck business gets smaller and smaller, the time between new platforms is going to get longer and longer. GM has pushed back their next-gen platform on trucks and I wonder how long it will be before the next-gen of the F-150 after this one shows up this fall.

  2. someone on Jalopnik mentionned an good observation then I decided to quote: “What’s interesting is that the BOF truck design cycles used to be a hell of a lot longer – sometimes as much as 15-20 years or more. Dodge re-designed their pickups in 1972 and the platform lasted until 1994. Chevy/GMC had a generation of pickups lasting from 1973 to 1988. Ford’s new-for-’80 pickups were around until 1996. The scrambling for quicker re-designs didn’t really start until the mid-’90s, and we’re heading back to the longer cycles at much lower volumes. Don’t be surprised if the new Dodge and Ford designs are still around in 2020 or even 2025.”

    With the emissions and safety standards, I wonder if it could be possible to get a longer cycle of 15 or even 20 years?

  3. Ford may not enough money to make the changeover to cars since they have to make it as sales are falling. And this may be the chance Kerkorian is looking for. The New York Times quoted an auto analyst, “Ford is going to burn a considerable amount of cash until it adequately expands its fleet of fuel-efficient cars and convinces consumers that these vehicles offer competitive value relative to Japanese product,” Mr. Clark said.

    A liquidity crisis could allow Kirk Kerkorian, the billionaire investor, to gain influence at Ford. On Thursday, Mr. Kerkorian said he had increased his stake in the company to 6.49 percent and offered to infuse additional capital.

    It seems Kerkorian has wanted to be in the auto business for a long time and it looks like he might get his wish.

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