Thursday, July 31, 2008

FORD ACCELERATES SMALL CAR MANUFACTURING

IMMEDIATE RELEASE



FORD ACCELERATES TRANSFORMATION PLAN WITH SMALL CAR OFFENSIVE, MANUFACTURING REALIGNMENT




  • Ford adding new fuel-efficient small cars and crossovers to North American product lineup

  • Six European small vehicles coming to North America from global B-car and C-car platforms

  • Three large truck and SUV plants converting to small cars; retooling begins in December

  • Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup to be almost completely upgraded by end of 2010

  • Ford plans to be the best or among the best in fuel economy with every new product in its segment

  • Hybrid vehicle production and lineup to double in 2009

  • Capacity for North American four-cylinder engines to double by 2011

  • Ford, Lincoln and Mercury confirmed in company's North American brand portfolio

DEARBORN, Mich., July 24,2008 --Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] today announced a significant acceleration of its transformation plan with the addition of several new fuel-efficient small vehicles in North America and a realignment of its North America manufacturing.


The actions represent a considerable shift in Ford's North American product plans and investments toward smaller vehicles and fuel-efficient powertrains in both the near-and mid-term in line with rapid changes in customer buying preferences.


In addition to bringing six small vehicles to North America from the company's acclaimed European lineup, Ford is acceleration the introduction of fuel-efficient EcoBoost and all-new four-cylinder engines, boosting hybrid production and converting three existing truck and SUV plants for small car production, beginning this December.


"We continue to take fast and decisive action implementing our plan and responding to the rapidly changing business environment," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "Ford is moving aggressively using our global product strengths to introduce additional smaller vehicles in North America and to provide outstanding fuel economy with every new product."


Mulally said the company is more focused than ever on its transformation plan, which calls for:



  • Aggressively restructuring to operate profitably at the current demand and changing model mix

  • Accelerating the development of new products that customers want and value

  • Financing the plan and improving the balance sheet

  • Working together effectively as one team, leveraging Ford's global assets

"The progress we have made in working together to create a 'One Ford' global enterprise during the past two years gives us a unique competitive advantage in today's environment," Mulally said. "We are in a stronger position than ever to leverage Ford's global assets to address the North American business environment. We also are building on the past few years of progress in continuously improving our quality, reducing our cost structure and introducing strong new products."


Aggressively Restructuring


Ford will convert three existing North American truck and SUV plants for small car production, with the first conversion beginning this December.


The moves are in addition to Ford's announcements in May and June that it is reducing its North American production plans for large trucks and SUVs for the remainder of 2008, as well as increasing production of smaller cars and crossover.


"We are transforming Ford's North American manufacturing operations into a lean, flexible system that is fully competitive with the best in the business," said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "We remain committed to matching our capacity with real consumer demand, and we can respond quickly to changing consumer tastes.


"In addition, we are adding four-cylinder engine capacity to meet the growing consumer demand, while expanding production of our new EcoBoost engines, six-speed transmissions and other fuel-saving technologies," Fields said.


Among the manufacturing realignment actions:



  • Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Mich., which currently builds the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator full-size SUVs, will be converted beginning this December to production of small cars derived from Ford's global C-car platform in 2010.

  • Production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator will be moved to the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky., early next year.

  • Cuautitlan Assembly Plan in Mexico, which currently produces F-Series pickups, will be converted to begin production of the new Fiesta small car for North America in early 2010.

  • Louisville (Ky.) Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer mid-size SUV, will be converted to produce small vehicles from Ford's global C-car platform beginning in 2011.

  • Twin Cities (Minn.) Assembly Plant --which was scheduled to close in 2009 --will continue production of the Ford Ranger through 2011 to meet consumer demand for the compact pickup.

  • As previously announced, Kansas City Assembly Plant this year will add a third crew to its small utility line for the Ford Escape, Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid.

In tandem with the realignments, Ford will continue to offer targeted hourly buyouts at its U.S. plants and facilities, working with the UAW to secure competitive employment levels. Ford also said it remains on track to reduce salaried-related costs by 15 percent in North America by Aug. 1.


Ford North America still expects to reduce annual operating costs by $5 billion by the end of 2008-- at constant volume, mix and exchange, and excluding special items--compared with 2005. In addition, the company said it plans to continue to reduce structural costs beyond 2008.


The company also confirmed Ford, Lincoln and Mercury will remain in its North American brand portfolio. Ford said it will work its dealers to broaden and accelerate its dealer consolidations, which will result in a dealer network that reflects the changing industry size and model mix.


Ford also updated its current North American planning assumptions, which include:



  • U.S. economic recovery to begin by early 2010

  • U.S. industry sales to return to trend levels as the economy returns to health industry for full-size pickups-- though not back to levels experience previously-- as the economy and housing sector recover

  • Oil prices to remain volatile and high

  • No near-term relief from current level of commodity prices

  • About 14 percent U.S. market share for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands

Accelerating New Products


Ford is adding several new North American products in the near-and mid-term, and shifting from a primary emphasis on large trucks and SUVs to smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. By the end of 2010, two-thirds of spending will be on cars and crossovers-- up from one-half today.


"We are accelerating the development of the new products customers want and value, "Mulally said. "We sell some of the best vehicles int world in our profitable European and Asian operations, and we will bring many of them to North America on top of our already aggressive product plans."


The new products include six European small vehicles to be introduced in North America by the end of 2012. Ford's acclaimed European products are set apart by their world- class driving dynamics, exciting design and outstanding quality.


"While we have no intention of giving up out longtime truck leadership, we are creating a new Fore in North America on foundation of small, fuel-efficient cars and crossovers that will set new standards for quality, fuel economy, product features and refinement," Fields said.


The Ford, Lincoln, Mercury line will be almost completely upgraded by the end of 2010, including:



  • 2009 Ford F-150, on sale in late fall with the most capability, most choice and most smart features of any full-size pickup, and with more than a 7 percent fuel economy improvement

  • 2010 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Lincoln MKZ sedans, on sale in early 2009, with Fusion's and Milan's four-cylinder fuel economy expected to top Honda Accord and Toyota Camry

  • 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid beginning production late this year and on sale in early 2009- with fuel economy expected to top the Toyota Camry hybrid

  • New Ford Mustang- coupe, convertible, and glass-roof models --in early 2009

  • New Ford Taurus sedan-- with EcoBoost engine and even more advanced safety and convenience technologies-- in mid-2009

  • New European Transit Connect small multi-purpose van in mid-2009

  • New Lincoln seven-passenger crossover-with EcoBoost engine --in mid-2009

  • New European Ford Fiesta, in both four-and five-door versions, in early 2010

  • New European Ford Focus, in both four-and five-door versions, in 2010

  • New Mercury small car in 2010

  • New European small vehicle that will be a "whitespace" entry in North America in 2010

  • Next-generation Ford Explorer-- with unibody construction, EcoBoost, six-speed, weight savings and improved aerodynamics for up to 25 percent better fuel economy --in 2010

With every new product, Ford expects to be the best or among the best for fuel economy. This is aided by one of the most extensive powertrain upgrades ever for Ford. By the end of 2010, nearly all of Ford's North American engines will be upgraded or replaced. In addition, within two years, nearly all of Ford's North American lineup will offer fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmissions.


The improvements build on several Ford fuel economy leaders today, such as:



  • 2009 Ford Flex, which is the most fuel-efficient standard seven-passenger vehicle on the market, topping the 2009 Honda Pilot

  • 2009 Ford Focus, with highway fuel economy of up to 35 mpg-- better than than the smaller 2008 Honda Fit and 2009 Nissan Versa SL and a key reason Focus retail sales are up 50 percent

  • 2009 Excape, with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission delivering best-in-class highway fuel economy of 28 mpg--ahead of Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V

  • 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, delivering 34 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, making it the most fuel-efficient utility vehicle available

Coming in 2009 are the first applications of Ford's new EcoBoost engines. EcoBoost uses gasoline turbocharger direct-injection technology for up to 20 percent better fuel economy, up to 15 percent fewer CO2 emissions and superior driving performance versus larger-displacement engines.


EcoBoost V-6 engines will be introduced on several vehicles next year beginning with the Lincoln MKS and Ford Taurus sedans, Ford Flex crossover. Four-cylinder EcoBoost engines will debut in 2010 in both North America and Europe. Ford will offer EcoBoost on more that 80 percent of its North American lineup by the end of 2012.


Ford also plans to double capacity for North American four-cylinder engines to more that 1 million units by 2011, to meet the consumer5 trend toward downsized engines for fuel economy. The smaller engines will deliver significant fuel savings.


In addition, Ford plans to double its hybrid volume and offerings next year-- and is looking to expand further going forward. Production of the all-new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid begins in December-- with fuel economy expected to top the Toyota Camry hybrid.


With these new models, the Ford Escape Hybrid- now in its fifth year of production- and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Ford will offer four hybrid vehicles. That will make Ford the largest domestic producer of full hybrid vehicles in North America, second only to Toyota in sales volume.


Ford also is introducing six-speeds with PowerShift that offers the fuel economy of manual transmission and convenience of an automatic; and start-stop engines that shut off when the vehicle stops; electric power steering; direct injection, and Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing engines. These technologies will be progressively introduced within the North American lineup by 2012.


"One Ford"


Driving Ford's product transformation is the company's "One Ford" global product development vision, which will deliver more vehicles worldwide from fewer core platforms, further reduce costs and allow for the increased use of common parts and systems.


In the next five years, Ford will build more that 1 million vehicles a year worldwide off its global B-car platform and nearly 2 million units worldwide off its global C-car platform.


"Ford is investing most where consumer growth is taking place- and that's in highly fuel-efficient global small cars," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. "One of every four vehicles in the world today is a 'C' or Ford Focus-sized vehicle, and we expect the segment to grow more than 20 percent 6 million units in North America an 25 million worldwide by 2012. We see similar strong growth in the B-segment, where the Fiesta competes."


With Ford's global product development plan, all of the company's vehicles competing in global segments will be common in North America, Europe and Asia within five years. In addition to B- and C-sized small cars, the company's Fusion-and Mondeo-sized C/D cars and utilities will be common globally. The same will be true for commercial vans.


Ford said it is uniquely positioned to take advantage of its scale, already acclaimed global products and the strength of the Ford brand around the world to respond to the current changing marketplace and to begin to grow profitably. The company said its success in growing market share and profits with smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in Europe is now the template around the world.


"We remain absolutely committed to creating an exciting, viable Ford going forward- and to transforming Ford into a lean global enterprise delivering profitable growth over the long term," Mulally said. "We continue to make progress on every element of our transformation plan, and we are taking decisive steps in the near term to ensure out long-term success."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Top 10 Ford Motor Company Quality Success Stories

Ford continues to make great strides toward achieving its goal of best-in-class qua lity. The following ten examples show some of the successes already achieved along the way.

Now shoulder-to-shoulder with industry leaders in initial quality – The quality of Ford brand vehicles soared to the top of the charts equaling that of Toyota and Honda, according to the second quarter 2008 U.S. Global Quality Research System (GQRS) study conducted by RDA Group of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The study showed Ford brand improved 6.5 percent versus last year with a combined average of 1343 things-gone-wrong (TGW) per 1,000 vehicles during the first three months of ownership. This performance is statistically equivalent at the 95% confidence level to the TGW levels of Honda and Toyota.

Virtual technology expertise worth sharing – For nearly a decade, Ford has been using its industry-leading digital ergonomics research to help line operators do their jobs efficiently and issue-free. Led by a world-renowned ergonomics expert, the team optimizes every movement so employees can build car after car and avoid fatigue and injury. This upfront virtual technology greatly reduces issues at launch and relates directly to quality. The company shares its findings on how to reduce repetitive stress and other injuries with the other American automakers and University of Michigan researchers.

Best-in-class paint performance – According to GQRS studies, Ford is tied in first place for fewer chips and scratches and more long-term durability. Its three-part wet application process not only provides better long-term resistance to chips and scratches than water-borne paint, it reduces the plant shop’s CO2 emissions by 15 percent. An eco-friendly anti-corrosion system helps prevent rust while cutting paint shop water use nearly in half and reducing the production of sludge by 90 percent. Also, Ford is the first automaker to implement a technology called High-Gloss Mold-in-Color. The 2008 Ford Super Duty’s wheel lip molding is injection-molded with the high-gloss metallic color built right in – no primer or paint required. This increases long-term appearance and durability, as well as being more environmentally friendly than priming and painting those parts.

Chart-topping electrical functions – Thanks in part to stringent electronics testing during the predelivery process, Ford topped the charts in20GQRS studies for electrical functions such as the radios. Hundreds of end-of-line evaluations take place and are tracked through Ford’s Quality Leadership System (QLS), which gives anyone in the plant the ability to flag a vehicle as having an open concern and keeps that vehicle from leaving the plant until it’s been fixed.

Quality testing goes green – As the 52-year-old high-speed test track at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds undergoes its $13 million reconstruction, it’s reusing almost every bit of existing material, preventing 130,000 tons of debris from going to local landfills. The track is critical to Ford’s quality assurance process, as it’s used for a wide range of vehicle testing.

Earning third-party accolades – In May, two separate research firms confirmed that Ford continues to make great strides in quality. San Diego-based researcher Strategic Vision put Ford neck-and-neck with Toyota for total quality, and ahead of everyone else. The firm said the two automakers were tied for topping the most segments on its Total Quality Index with three vehicles each. Winning Ford vehicles are Ford Edge, Ford Mustang Convertible and Ford F-250/350, which was also a segment winner in 2007. Meanwhile, noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific released the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research, putting Ford on top or tied for first in six Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. Vehicles earning accolades were Ford Taurus, Mercury Milan, Lincoln Mark LT, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Ford Explorer and Ford Edge.

Ford Flex boasts ultra-quiet ride – Ford Motor Company’s wind noise went from second-w orst in the industry in 2003 to best in the bunch for 2007 based on TGW according to GQRS results. The all-new 2009 Ford Flex is no exception. In Ford’s wind tunnel tests, it delivered a quieter ride than competitors including the Acura MDX, Toyota Highlander and GMC Acadia, good news for customers who equate quietness with quality.

J.D. Power says Ford Focus is most improved – The 2008 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study by J.D. Power and Associates showed that Focus gained 88 index points over last year. The Ford Escape also earned a spot among the top 10 most improved vehicles in the industry. In addition, five Ford Motor Company vehicles received second- or third-place honors in their segments: Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Mazda CX7, Mazda CX9, Ford Focus and Lincoln Navigator.

Long-term durability improves – Ford brand improved at a rate of 3 percent versus the industry average of 1 percent according to the 2008 GQRS three-years-in-service report. The survey looked at 2005 model year vehicles (compared to 2004 model year in 2007). The top non-luxury brands were Toyota, Mercury, Honda and Ford, with a gap of only 0.6 problems per vehicle difference from Toyota to Ford. For the fifth year in a row, Mercury did better than Honda in this durability study.

Ford brand makes significant quality gains – According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Initial Quality Study, Ford vehicles increased in quality at a faster rate than the industry average. Continuing its five-year upward trend, Ford brand improved by eight points over last year’s study, bettering the industry’s seven-point improv ement. Ford Motor Company vehicles received 10 honors, including three with the highest rankings in their respective segments: Lincoln Navigator, Mazda MX5 Miata and Ford E-Series.