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Old 06-20-2008, 01:07 PM   #1
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Ford delays launch of new F-150

Ford delays launch of new F-150
Big pick-up sales are hit by high gas prices and reduced construction spending. Automaker also expects more production cutbacks.
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, staff writer
Last Updated: June 20, 2008: 1:46 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- With sales of full-size pickups in a steep decline, Ford Motor Co. said Friday it is delaying the launch of its new, redesigned Ford F-150 pick-up by two months.

The full-size pick-up, which had been due to enter showrooms in early fall will now come out in late fall, instead.

Ford also announced more production cutbacks. The company said it will produce 25% fewer vehicles in the third quarter of this year than it did in the same quarter of 2007. The cuts will be among Ford's large trucks and SUVs.

Meanwhile, Ford said it is working to boost production of its small cars and crossover SUVs, products that have been attracting more sales this year even as overall auto sales have dropped.

The Ford F-150 has been the top-selling passenger vehicle in America for 26 straight years. Big pickups have been a popular and profitable item for Detroit Automakers. But high gas prices and a declining home-construction market have hit truck sales hard.

In May, the F-150 fell to fifth place for the month as the Honda Civic compact car became America's best-selling model, followed by the Toyota Camry. General Motors' (GM, Fortune 500) Chevrolet Silverado, usually a second-place seller behind the F-150, ranked sixth.

Overall sales of full-sized trucks like the F-150 are 23% lower this year than they were by this time last year, according to market analyst Power Information Network.

"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," Mark Fields, Ford's President of The Americas said in a statement.

Despite all this, when 2008 comes to a close the F-150 will probably still be number one in sales for the year, said Tom Libby, an analyst with Power Information Network.

"This is a very important model for Ford," said Libby. "Ford will do whatever it takes to protect that model."

That could mean aggressive incentives as Ford tries to clear out 2008 trucks and keep its sales crown.

Ford (F, Fortune 500) also said it would further cut large SUV and truck production for the remainder of 2008. The cuts will be made through additional downtime, shift reductions and slowing assembly line speeds.

At the same time, Ford reiterated that is taking steps to more quickly boost production of small, fuel-efficient cars.

"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," said Alan Mulally, Ford's president and chief executive, in a statement.

Ford will increase production at plants that make the Lincoln MKX, Ford Edge, Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape crossover SUVs, as well at plants producing the Ford Focus compact car.

The automaker says it will reduce overall third-quarter production by a further 50,000 vehicles. It now plans to produce 475,000 vehicles, 25% fewer than the third quarter of last year.

Fourth-quarter production will drop 8 to 14% compared with the same quarter last year.

The company also said Friday it expects industry-wide U.S. sales this year to drop to a range of 14.7 million to 15.2 million units. The company previously had predicted 15 million to 15.4 million units.

Ford does not expect to be profitable until some time after 2009, the company confirmed in its announcement.

First Published: June 20, 2008: 11:12 AM EDT

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Old 06-20-2008, 01:10 PM   #2

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Makes sense. GM is scaling back plans for the redesigned trucks as well
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by OverAnxious View Post
Makes sense. GM is scaling back plans for the redesigned trucks as well
I read that as well. Ford can be happy about the sales of it Focus, it's selling well.
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:37 PM   #4
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Well, at least GM's not they've got a buddy that the media can pick on, too. It makes sense what they're doing. Glad they did it.

On a quasi-related note. GM needs to put their BAS hybrid system into the Cobalt.
Ford needs to do something similar with the Focus. (maybe GM could sell them the tech)

THAT will get the green crowd going. They're small cars that would garner better fuel savings than the Malibu from such a system. It'd be cheap - and it would really show that Ford/GM's trying to get fuel-saving technology down to the 'little guy'.

They also need to accelerate BAS-II development.
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