Ford executives bemoan the fact that their turnaround is looking better internally, but that the company is outwardly fighting a perception gap that its vehicles aren't as good as those made by some Japanese companies.
Mark Fields, Ford president of theAmericas, said the company is making good headway at stabilizing its market share. Ford has lost market share in the U.S. for eleven consecutive years, he explains, but its new product line - which he described as "the strongest in the company's history" - is giving the struggling carmaker a shot at finally ending the slide. Ford is actually ahead of schedule in stabilizing its market share at about 14 to 15 percent, one goal of its Way Forward restructuring plan, Fields said.
"Customers are telling us they like the product," added Fields, who noted the company's market share is stabilizing even as it reduces its dependence on fleet sales. "What we're telling people is to put us on their shopping lists," added Fields, admitting the company has to change customer perceptions.
Going forward, Ford expects to concentrate its resources on safety, fuel economy, reducing cabin noise, and features such as electrically assisted power steering where the company already is a leader.
Fields also said Ford essentially has met its goal of cutting 14,000 salaried jobs. Ford was seeking to reduce white-collar employment by 10,000 this year, in addition to about 4000 who left last year.
About 27,000 U.S. hourly workers have left Dearborn-based Ford under buyout or early retirement offers as part of its effort to pare down its workforce, and Fields reiterated that number on Friday.
Fields, however, also admitted the company faces substantial challenges, including repaying the $23 billion it borrowed last winter.
"Time is not our friend," he said. click for more info...