By now, everyone knows that Ford Motor is in trouble in North America, largely because of a product line that missed a rapid shift in consumer preferences, but there's a limit to how quickly the company will be able to restructure to meet the challenge, according to Ford's president for American operations, Mark Fields.
Fields says that Job 1 for the automaker is stabilizing the business, while rolling out carefully targeted new vehicles aimed at key market segments, like Ford's new Edge crossover. While Ford sticks to a carefully measured plan for upgrading its product line, analysts predict that things are going to get worse before they get better, with the new models currently in the pipeline not having a significant impact on the automaker's results until 2009. Ford itself is predicting that its U.S. market share will drop from its current 16 percent to around 14 percent in the next few years.

Nonetheless, Fields says there are no plans to rush new models to market, citing the risk that a crash development program might compromise product quality. Meanwhile, the company is just gearing up for a massive employee buyout program that will eliminate 30,000 factory jobs.

In a masterpiece of understatement, Fields told reporters in San Francisco yesterday that "The next number of quarters will be interesting, given what we are trying to accomplish."

For those who missed it, check out what we believe Ford's lineup should have been had the automaker gotten out in front of the shifting marketplace.

[Source: Reuters]


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