US:Ford Hopes Infusion of New Vehicles Will Improve Disappointing Sales
Ford Hopes Infusion of New Vehicles Will Improve Disappointing Sales, Following 4.3 Percent Decline
The Auto Channel
ROMEO, Mich. July 22, 2004; John Porretto writing for the AP reported that Ford Motor Co. is in the midst of launching nine new or revamped vehicles in 90 days, its biggest-ever product offensive and an effort the company says should give a lift to what have been disappointing sales this year.
Ford reported second-quarter earnings Tuesday of $1.7 billion, nearly tripling year-ago results, but the company's financial services arm accounted for three-quarters of the income.
In the critical U.S. market, sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles were off 4.3 percent through June, while industrywide sales were up 1.8 percent, according to Autodata Corp. Its U.S. market share was 18.8 percent for the first six months of 2004, down from 19.9 percent a year ago, Autodata said.
On Thursday, Ford rolled out its new vehicles for automotive journalists at its Michigan proving grounds about 45 miles north of Detroit.
It also announced that a midsize sedan planned for next year, initially called the Ford Futura, will be renamed the Fusion, and that more than 50 percent of its 2005-model year cars and trucks will meet the federal government's strict new emission standards. The percentage exceeds what's currently required by law, the company said.
On the sales side, Ford sorely needs a boost from the beefed-up lineup, which includes new nameplates such as the Ford Five Hundred, the company's new flagship sedan, and the Freestyle crossover vehicle, as well as a redesigned Mustang.
The Mustang, Five Hundred and Freestyle, which has features of a sedan and a sport utility vehicle, are scheduled to go on sale in September.
Burnham Securities analyst David Healy said the new vehicles, particularly the cars, surely will help Ford increase its lagging market share. Ford's U.S. car sales were off 12.1 percent through June, roughly the same amount they were down all of last year.
Besides the Five Hundred and Mustang, Ford's new cars include the Mercury Montego upscale sedan and Ford GT supercar, with a top speed that's been certified at 205 mph. Ford has dubbed 2005 the "year of the car."
"They've been beat about the head and shoulders in the passenger car business for the past couple of years, so they better help," Healy said. "It's really up to the marketplace. In an ideal world, they should have had those new cars about three years ago."
Ford continues the car offensive next year, with the Fusion and a new Lincoln sedan called the Zephyr scheduled for production for the 2006 model year.
Ford had to change the name of the Futura to the Fusion after a federal court ruled that Pep Boys owns the rights to the Futura name. The automaker sued the Philadelphia-based auto parts retail chain last summer after Pep Boys sent a letter to Ford telling them that use of the name violated a trademark agreement. Pep Boys has used "Futura" on some of its tires since 1989.
Ford is scheduled to unveil the Fusion at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
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.....