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JP:Ford VP: We're committed to new products, technology

Ford VP: We're committed to new products, technology


Associated Press

TOKYO — Although it’s fighting financial troubles, Ford Motor Co. remains committed to investing in new products and technology, a senior executive said Friday.

“Despite the difficult times at Ford, we think it’s extremely important to invest in the product,” said Susan Cischke, vice president overseeing environmental and safety engineering at Ford.

Cischke, in Japan to speak at a symposium, told a small group of reporters at a Tokyo hotel that Ford sees ecological technology as crucial, including more efficient gas engines, hybrids that deliver better mileage, and the more futuristic fuel cell vehicles.

Ford, struggling to turn around its business, racked up a $5.8-billion loss for the
July-September quarter due to sagging North American sales and huge costs associated with a massive restructuring plan. It was the largest quarterly loss in more than 14 years for Ford, the second-biggest U.S. automaker after General Motors Corp.

Ford has been losing market share in the North American market to Japanese carmakers offering an array of hybrids and best-selling compacts.

But it has been seeing strong sales growth in nearby China, where its vehicle sales more than doubled to 114,685 units in the first three quarters of this year from 55,807 in the same period last year.

Ford signaled its commitment to the Chinese market with announcement Thursday that it plans to build a new plant in eastern China with Japanese affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. and local partner Changan Automotive Group. The plant, set to start operations next year, will produce up to 160,000 vehicles a year.

Chairman William Clay Ford said Thursday during a visit to Beijing that Ford expects to buy more than $2.6 billion worth of auto parts in China for overseas use this year, up 63% from 2005, according to company spokesman Kenneth Hsu said.

Cischke, meanwhile, acknowledged fuel economy was becoming more important for consumers, and Ford lagged behind rivals in offering the right mix of fuel-efficient models.

Worries have been growing that Ford could face a cash squeeze before the savings benefits kick in from job cuts, plant closures and other parts of its restructuring plan.
Cischke was upbeat about prospects for Ford’s revival plan under its new chief executive Alan Mulally, a former Boeing Co. executive who took office about a month ago.

“It’s very exciting times for us at Ford,” she said. “He’s really doing a great job of
trying to set a vision for us and to bring the team together.”

U.S. automakers have turned in dismal earnings results for the third quarter, with General Motors reporting a $115-million loss for the period.

That contrasts with healthy performance among the Japanese. Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday its quarterly profit rose 31%. Honda Motor Co. posted a slightly lower profit for the quarter, partly because of hedging, but saw its sales grow in North America and other regions. Toyota Motor Corp. reports earnings next month.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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