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Old 10-30-2002, 08:42   #1 (permalink)
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Ford CEO slams yen weakness vs. dollar

Reuters / October 30, 2002

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. said on Tuesday that the yen's prolonged weakness against the dollar had put U.S. automakers at a disadvantage when it came to the cost of building and selling new cars and trucks.

"If I look at their real advantage right now it's in the yen-dollar relationship," Ford told a meeting of institutional investors in California.

"And it really, competitively, puts us at a real disadvantage," he said.

The head of the world's No. 2 automaker offered no other explanation for the success of a relentless and multi-year assault on the lucrative U.S. market by Japanese and Korean automakers -- who have expanded their share despite lower sales incentives and discounts to lure customers into showrooms.

But there has been a growing chorus of complaints about the weakness of the yen and Korea's currency, as Detroit's Asian rivals eke out steady U.S. market share gains due to what many industry analysts see as their high appeal in terms of cost and overall vehicle quality or reliability.

Bill Ford, who is seeking to lead his company through a wrenching turnaround plan after a loss of $5.45 billion last year, said even Japanese automakers with a broad manufacturing base now based in the United States continued to enjoy a significant cost benefit thanks to their weak currency at home.

"Even the transplants still have a very high proportion of their componentry in yen-based (cost structures)," he said.
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