The North American automotive market has punished automakers whose products are out of step with rapidly changing consumer demands, and Ford Motor's Mark Fields (president, Americas) says his company gets the message. In a speech to industry executives Wednesday at the Center for Automotive Research's 41st annual Management Briefing Seminars, Fields pledged to accelerate Ford's Way Forward plan - increasing the pace of new product introductions and ramping up investment in R&D and flexible manufacturing facilities.
"We'll have more to say on the specifics of what we're accelerating in September. But I can confirm that our plans include more new products, features and technologies throughout our lineup," said Fields. "We have nine new Ford and Lincoln Mercury products going on sale in the next six months alone, and we are rebuilding our business for the future with an emphasis on new products."
More after the jump... On the new product front, Fields highlighted the new Ford Shelby GT (on sale in January), and the Lincoln's new flagship MKS sedan (due in 2008), and nine new Ford and Lincoln Mercury vehicles hitting the market in the next six months, including the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers in November.
Technology tidbits from Field's speech include the capless fuel filler (shown at right) that debuted on the Ford GT and will become standard across the Ford lineup, starting with the Lincoln MKS. Ford will also accelerate introduction of iPod connectivity, DVD-based nav systems, and satellite radio - all in response to market demand. Fields also pledged "more standard safety equipment on more vehicles."
On the investment front, Fields said the company is looking at a potential $1 billion investment in partnership with the state of Michigan, to expand flexible manufacturing at several Ford facilities in the state, and for R&D, particularly in the areas of advanced powertrain technologies and hybrid vehicles.
Expect to hear more on the new product theme in the next installment of "Bold Moves: The Future of Ford" this Sunday, when the company will reveal full details of the new Ford Shelby GT.