Ford, Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Ford is an American OEM that sells cars and commercial vehicles under the following brands: Ford and Lincoln. This page contains research on Ford's activities and strategy.

Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

2018

August

  • Moody’s downgraded Ford’s credit rating to Baa3, the lowest investment grade, and gave the company a negative outlook saying that a downgrade to junk status could come in mid-2019 without evidence that the company has a plan to improve its competitive position. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Will not sell the Focus Active in the US as planned, blaming US tariffs for ruining the business case and saying that since annual volume would be lower than 50,000 units, US production would not be worthwhile. (Bloomberg)
  • Tongues were set wagging by newspaper articles saying that Ford’s European, and especially UK plants, operations could see drastic job cuts in a bid to improve profitability. (Sunday Times)
  • The scope of Ford and VW’s collaboration -- seemingly dubbed Project Cyclone -- reportedly currently covers several sizes of commercial vehicle and light pick-up trucks (Ranger / Amarok). (Handelsblatt)
  • Moved the product planning team out of product development so the position now reports into the marketing organisation.(Ford)
  • Ford’s governmental affairs team took a hit as its head of international relations was recruited by the US government to oversee negotiations with North Korea, shortly after the top lobbyist left for SoftBank. (Detroit News)
  • Recalling around 50,000 charging cords for electric vehicles due to fire risks and a small quantity of vehicles that appear to have been factory released without all the bolts being properly tightened. (Ford)
  • The CFO said calls for the dividend to be reduced on weaker profits were “baseless”. (Detroit News)
  • Published a document outlining its vision for autonomous vehicles, reiterating the company’s intent to bring a vehicle to market in 2021 that is capable of driving without human assistance “within a specific geographic area and during appropriate weather conditions” but clarified that the cars “won’t initially be sold to customers”. In some cases the geofenced area (called the operational design domain, or ODD by Ford) might resemble a series of protected routes more than entire map grid squares as the cars avoid “complex” road layouts. (Ford)
  • A report suggested CEO Hackett’s communication style was harming the company’s ability to implement strategic changes, saying some executives had to rely on his chief of staff (a former visual sensemaker) to understand his intent even after holding meetings on the subject. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Said that the development of new premises in downtown Detroit, centred on the former train station, will cost up to $740 million, which Ford expects to be partly subsidised by $240 million of tax breaks. (Detroit News)
  • Ford’s Autonomic unit signed a collaboration with Alibaba to develop a connected car platform for the Chinese market that would run on Alibaba’s servers. (Ford)
  • Said it will take “whatever action is needed” to ensure business profitability in the face of Brexit. (The Independent)
  • Ford’s VP of product development and purchasing, Hau Thai-Tang gave a presentation outlining some of the company’s plans and how they tied into recently announced cost saving targets. For example, Thai-Tang presented a chart (slide 7) showing average age of portfolio coming down in the new plan as evidence of greater understanding of consumer trends and the need to produce relevant vehicles. (Ford)
  • Ford Aims to save around 20% to 40% of the engineering bill for each program by sharing up to 70% of the vehicle parts through common modules across five platforms. Ford conceded that in some markets the global platforms may be too expensive, and they will look to collaborate with local partners to do things more cheaply. Ford’s previous platform strategy restricted parts sharing to around 30% of vehicle content. (Ford)
  • Believes that the shift from passenger cars to utilities is permanent and the remaining car customers look for value and utility traits that “some of our competitors dominate”. (Ford)
  • Unveiled the China-only Territory, an entry-level SUV developed with joint venture partner JMC. (Ford)
  • Suggested that the time to create the Territory, from initial concept to mass production (but not first customer deliveries) was under 20 months. (Ford)

July

  • Reportedly working on a spiritual successor to the Courier car-based pick-up truck, but this time based off a Focus, rather than Fiesta. If the rumours are true, US sales could start in 2022. (Automobile)
  • Cutting prices in Russia in a bid to increase sales. (Wards)
  • Has reportedly been discussing a sale of its South American unit with FCA and VW. (Bloomberg)
  • Ford’s earnings presentation contained several slides laying out what the company termed a comparison between the accretive (money making) and dilutive (money losing) parts of the business. Because of a “filtering for value creation”, the company intends to undergo a major, yet unspecified, restructuring which will see a likely EBIT impact of $11 billion and cash impact of $7 billion over the next three to five years.
  • Postponed the investor day previously scheduled for September to an undetermined point in the future. (Ford)
  • CEO Hackett said there will be 16 BEVs by 2022, all of which are “additions to our portfolio”. (Ford)
  • Said the European light commercial vehicle business had EBIT margins of 13% on a standalone basis and that Britain had been responsible for the majority of the $1.2 billion of profit from the region in 2016. (Ford)
  • Announced the creation of a standalone business unit to hold its autonomous vehicle assets, including the company’s stake in Argo AI. The CEO of the new company is the executive previously in charge of autonomous vehicle efforts. Ford pledged that $4 billion will be invested in the unit by 2023, since this includes money already announced for Argo AI, it isn’t clear how much of this is money already spent. (Ford)
  • Changed several executive reporting relationships, with product development reporting directly to the CEO again, having spent about a year reporting to the (then) newly created operations function. (Ford)
  • Reached a settlement that gives Ford $299 million from Takata as partial compensation for recall costs. (Reuters)
  • Launching a chatbot, from Botnik.ai, to answer questions from French customers on social networks. (Journal Auto)
  • Set a sales target of 2,800 all-electric Transit van sales in Europe for 2018. (Automotive News)
  • Confirmed that it was still intending to build 1,000 examples of the GT, despite production being behind schedule, indicating a production run of longer than the initially planned four years. (Motor Authority)
  • Announced two safety recalls for around 550,000 vehicles in the US. One corrects potential gearchange issues that could allow the vehicle to roll away. The second is a much smaller recall of heavy trucks. (Ford)
  • Reportedly using the Fusion nameplate for a new high roofed hatchback to replace the current model. (Detroit News)

Q2 2018 Financial Results

  • Reported financial results for Q2 2018. Revenue of $38.9 billion was down (3)% on a year-over-year basis, net income of $1.1 billion was down (58)% YoY. The company blamed conditions in Europe and China for a full year earnings downgrade. (Ford)

June

  • Agreed a partnership with Baidu to work on connectivity, digital marketing and artificial intelligence. The collaboration includes developing in-car infotainment based on Baidu’s existing AI toolset. (Ford)
  • Ford executives were drawn into an uncharacteristic spat with Tesla’s CEO. (CNBC)
  • Ford and VW are exploring potential collaboration on a range of topics relating to commercial vehicles but stressed that equity arrangements and cross-ownership stakes were not under discussion. (VW)
  • Ford believes self-driving delivery vehicles have greater application in the suburbs than built-up areas. (PC Mag)
  • Ford and Daimler are ending their fuel cell development joint venture. (Reuters)
  • Recalling around 9,000 vehicles in North America to fix fuel pump, transmission and braking problems. (Ford)
  • Wants to work harder on sourcing in India; Ford says its tier 1 suppliers are 85% local but tier 2s are only 60%, meaning that import tariffs are still largely incurred -- the company is aiming for 90% localisation. (Autocar)
  • A profile of Argo AI said the company currently has 330 employees. (WSJ)
  • In line with long-running media speculation, after it said in March that it would not allocate a new product to the plant, Ford announced it was seeking a buyer for the Bordeaux, France automatic transmission factory. (Ford)
  • Began production of the Ecopsort in Russia. (Autocar)

May

  • Ford’s strategy consultants explained the structure of the company’s mobility group. (Harvard Business Review)
  • Will build a second, as-yet unspecified, model at its Craiova, Romania plant. The investment for the new vehicle is around €200 million and 1,500 new jobs will be created. (Ford)
  • Issued safety recalls for a small amount of pick ups to fix problems with parking brakes. (Ford)
  • Had to shut three truck plants following a fire at Meridian Magnesium, a supplier of critical F-Series components. The company will reportedly have resourced the parts by the end of the week commencing 14th May and said that full year earnings would not be affected, but remained tight-lipped on near term impacts, indicating a Q2 hit that will be recovered later in the year. (Ford)
  • Chairman Bill Ford said the company is looking to make “fairly large” changes that “could” affect regions and/or functions. He also proclaimed himself “really pleased” with CEO Hackett’s learning curve. (News 18)
  • Created a JV with existing low cost electric vehicle partner Zotye to create all-electric vehicles aimed at ride sharing fleets and drivers. (Ford)

April

  • Executives said that the company would still offer “affordable” products in North America once it has phased out existing entry level products. (Detroit News)
  • Announced a series of executive moves and external hires in Middle East, Africa and China. (Ford)
  • Reportedly will not unveil full details of its “fitness” plan until September, after a planned July review with the company’s board. (New York Times)
  • When production of the Taurus stops at the Chicago plant in 2020, Ford will begin building the Lincoln Aviator and expects that no redundancies will be necessary. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Will extend layoffs at the Valencia engine factory due to delays in the new Maverick engine. (Europa Press)
  • Wamyo’s CEO criticised Ford’s executive culture saying that when he worked there “it was the greatest collection of clever people who couldn’t work out how to get on”. (Autocar)
  • Launched a non-emergency medical transport service called GoRide. (Ford)
  • The new Focus was unveiled; it is lighter than its predecessor and for the first time, a Focus will be available without an independent rear suspension in cheaper models. Ford said that this wasn’t to cut costs and driving dynamics would not be adversely affected. Motoring journalists raised on a diet of Ford comments about how inferior the ride of competitor products are because they didn’t feature independent rear suspension weren’t so sure. (Autocar)
  • Ford’s European executives said it would be “daft to exit a big market like Europe”, citing the sales volume (and leaving aside the question of long term profitability). They also said mild hybrid 48V systems are “starting to get to the same cost” as diesel. (Autocar)
  • Executives said that the company wasn’t putting much effort into planning for potential US and China tariff barriers because they “might not happen”. (Bloomberg)
  • Said its research indicated that driverless delivery vehicles would complete routes 25% more efficiently than those piloted by humans. (Autocar)
  • Received approval for German banking licence, meaning that it can provide financing to customers in Europe unimpeded by Brexit -- Ford is the OEM most exposed to the loss of passporting rights. (Reuters)
  • Ford executives said that it would not be worth producing electric cars with annual volumes below 40,000. (Reuters)

Q1 2018 Financial Results

  • Announced Q1 2018 financial results. Revenue of $42 billion was up 7% on a year-over-year basis. Ford called adjusted EBIT of $2.2 billion “solid”, despite a (10)% YoY drop which Ford said was all due to commodity costs. In a bid to mollify investors, the company pulled forward its target year for 8% EBIT margin to 2020. Ford also announced that by 2020 it will only sell two pure cars in North America: Mustang and the active version of the new Focus. The confirmation that the company will no longer offer Fusion in North America beyond 2020 (in line with previously leaked letters to suppliers) fuelled speculation about the future of the Mondeo in Europe (also mentioned in the leaked supplier letter). (Ford)

March

  • Lincoln unveiled the Aviator, a three row SUV that the company hopes will do well in China. (Lincoln)
  • Announced pricing for the FordPass SmartLink dongle that can be plugged into the ODB port of Ford vehicles from 2010 onwards, enabling a certain amount of connected services. It looks expensive -- $16.99 per month for a minimum 24 month contract, plus installation. (Ford)
  • Signed an MoU with Mahindra to develop a series of vehicles including a C-sized crossover and a small electric vehicle, aimed at emerging markets. The C-sized crossover will be based on a Mahindra platform; the partners will develop a connected vehicle platform; and the press release raised the possibility of Ford buying Mahindra powertrain to augment its existing offerings. (Ford)
  • Led a $65 million funding round in 3D printing company Desktop Metal. (3D Printing Industry)
  • Announced an online platform in the USA called Ready.Shop.Go that will create time-limited offers for consumers that include financing and trade-in. (Ford)
  • Announced executive changes, including the departure of the recently-recruited chief brand officer. (Ford)
  • Gave an in-depth new product presentation confirming it will make a small “rugged” SUV in addition to the Bronco. The company also plugged its bundled driver assistance suite called co-pilot360, measuring it against a carefully-selected set of not-best-in-class competition. The presentation included an array of examples to prove progress was being made in the battle for “fitness”, many of which predate the current management team. (Ford)
  • Ford said that in a few years only 14% of vehicles sold by the brand in North America will be cars. (Ford)
  • Issued a recall for around 1.4 million vehicles in North America to correct problems with steering wheel bolts, a further 6,000 vehicles for clutch problems. (Ford)
  • UK unions called for Ford’s two engine plants, at Dagenham and Bridgend, to be “repurposed for new electric models or battery technology”. Ford dismissed the suggestion. (Auto Express)
  • Ford’s European head said that the company would not have to make a “fundamental shift” in its line-up in order to meet 2021 CO2 targets but would “fine tune the volume by powertrain by vehicle”. (Reuters)
  • Will create a test fleet of vehicles in Miami aimed primarily at delivery in partnership with Domino’s (a pizza chain) and Postmates (parcel delivery). (Miami)
  • Told unions and local politicians that it will not manufacture a new 8 speed automatic transmission (dubbed 8F mid) in the Bordeaux, France factory, leaving the plant’s future in doubt. (Les Echos)
  • Recalling around 2,100 Taurus cars to correct problems with the ignition key releasing too early. (Ford)

February

  • Ford’s North America head departed for unspecified improper behaviour and the company launched a wider reshuffle, including a number of moves amongst the finance leadership -- possibly in a continued quest for a successor to the CFO. (Ford)
  • Investing a further $25 million in its Kentucky plant to increase Navigator and Expedition production, saying that the plant is already working a continuous three shift pattern and over the weekend. (Ford)
  • Recalling a small number of Escape and MKC vehicles to correct brake problems. (Ford)
  • Wants to reduce the number of expatriate employees in its Chinese business by 30%. (Ford)
  • Extended a do not drive warning on vehicles with Takata airbags that have not yet been repaired. (Reuters)
  • Reportedly applied for a banking licence in Germany to allow its Ford Credit business to operate in Europe in the event that passporting is lost due to Brexit. (Reuters)
  • Will launch the Chariot bus service in London, the first European city. A fleet of 14 vehicles will run on four routes, all with snazzy alliterative titles (“Shooters Hill Shot” feels a bit weak; we would have gone for Sprinter, potential trademark disputes with Mercedes-Benz notwithstanding). The service is free for the first two weeks. (Ford)
  • Ford’s China CEO, an external hire, departed after five months in the role. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Launched the Freestyle, a compact sized crossover in India. (Autocar)
  • Moody’s downgraded the company’s rating outlook from stable to negative. (Detroit Free Press)

January

  • Announced it will acquire existing partner Autonomic and TransLoc. In addition, Ford’s mobility unit created a raft of vice president positions. (Ford)
  • Reached agreement with unions in Valencia, Spain on a three year agreement. Salaries will rise 5% in 2019 with lower awards in 2020 and 2021. The company will also make higher pension contributions. (Europa Press)
  • Gave a presentation in which it guided that 2018 profits would be lower than 2017 levels (and the third consecutive annual decrease). Despite a forecast of improved industry volumes, Ford believes that commodity cost and currency headwinds are responsible (page 13 in the chart deck). As a salve, the company will start reporting “Mobility” as a distinct line item -- 2017 net loss is around $(300) million (page 9). (Ford)
  • Having said that there will be 16 BEVs and 24 hybrid vehicles by 2022 (some of which could be the same nameplates), Ford said that there would be two platforms -- a Ford version and a low cost (Zotye-led) design. There will be: 13 BEVs in Asia; 7 BEVs in North America and; 3 BEVs in Europe. Although offering only a small range in Europe, Ford says this will be a “strong” BEV portfolio. (Ford)
  • In the Q&A after the presentation, executives said Ford is exploring “every option you would imagine” to improve the South America region. In addition, despite the announcements about $11 billion being spent on electrified vehicles, total investment “is not moving a whole lot, it’s really shifting [between programs]”. Finally, there will be some “exciting” mobility announcements at the end of January. (Ford)
  • Has set a new electric vehicle investment target of $11 billion by 2022, funding 40 electrified vehicles, of which 16 will be BEVs. (Reuters)
  • Unveiled the US market Ranger, a facelifted version of the vehicle available in international markets for the past few years. (Ford)
  • Previewed the Mach 1, seemingly an all-electric performance SUV concept, at the Detroit show. (The Verge)
  • Recalling 3,000 Ranger vehicles to repair faulty airbags, advising customers to immediately stop driving them. (Ford)
  • Ford’s Russia JV will hire 600 permanent and temporary personnel and move to a six day week. (Ford)
  • Partnering with Postmates to experiment with on-demand delivery of goods (like the Domino’s tie-up). (Ford)
  • Has partnered with Qualcomm to develop standardised communications technologies for vehicles to share information with other connected devices (the internet of things). (Ford)
  • Is building a Transportation Mobility Cloud with software company Autonomic so that vehicles can be tracked and managed by companies and regional authorities. (Ford)
  • Following a letter to suppliers cancelling a Fusion/Mondeo program for North American and European markets, sources told media the products would be part of the line-up for “at least three to four years”. (Detroit News)
  • Announced a diesel derivative of the F-150, using a version of the 3.0L V6 engine built in Dagenham, UK. (Ford)
  • US sales for 2017 were 2,586,715 units, a (1.1)% decline from 2016. Increases of 2.9% for SUVs and 4.3% for trucks failed to offset a (14.2)% drop in car sales. Despite heavy investment, Lincoln struggled, down (0.5)%. (Ford)

2017

Full Year 2017 Earnings

  • Reported financial results for fourth quarter and full year 2017 -- much of which had been disclosed previously. Although revenue and wholesales were up (to $156.8 billion and 6.61 million respectively), adjusted PBT of $8.4 billion was down (18)% on 2016 full year, more than explained by North America and Europe. During the conference call, analysts gave the executive team a frosty reception when they didn’t provide clear answers to questions about how the company intends to improve. (Ford)

December

  • Experienced industrial unrest in Craiova, Romania -- employees staged an impromptu strike just before Christmas and this may continue in the new year. A recent internal memo reportedly asked whether workers wanted “a higher salary increase or to secure the future of this factory”. (World Socialist)
  • US union officials called on the company to raise the wages of its Mexican employees so that they were less competitive and actions such as the recent decision to build Ford’s first mass-market electric vehicle in Mexico might not take place in future. (Economic Times of India)
  • Ford Focus RS vehicles appear to be exhibiting a design defect that results in far higher than normal engine replacements -- potentially exacerbated by owners modifying their vehicles after purchase. (Autocar)
  • Issued a recall for around 12,000 vehicles in the US. One of the problems looks as though it could have been easily fixed if Ford had installed vehicle connectivity that allowed over the air updates. (Ford)
  • Released an open letter to employees condemning harassment after newspaper reports uncovered a raft of issues at some US plants. (Detroit News)
  • Released photographs of a partially-disguised next generation Focus to build interest ahead of the 2018 launch. The effort uses #timetofocus on Twitter -- perhaps poorly timed as it is likely to be overwhelmed by people planning new training / diet regimes post 1st January 2018. (Auto Express)
  • Signed an agreement to develop digital mobility solutions for the residents of Hyderabad, India. Ford will work with the city’s government to assess the state of the current public transport and road network and then recommend solutions. Electronic payments appear to be a focus of the project. (Autocar)
  • Denied that it was intending to source the next generation Fusion/Mondeo from China and import to North America and Europe after suppliers leaked documents appearing to show China as the sole source of the vehicle from around 2020 onwards. The company declined to comment on the implications for factories in Valencia and Mexico that make the car now. (Reuters)
  • Said that it will launch 50 new vehicles in China by 2025 and that it local assembly will increase by a further five models, not including the Zotye JV, one of which will be the company’s first serious attempt at a BEV. As part of the plan, Ford wants to contain administrative costs, saying the structure would not increase beyond 2018 levels and that it was creating a single distribution group that would work with its three Chinese JVs. (Ford)
  • Agreed a collaboration with Alibaba that will potentially encompass a number of areas including digital marketing, smart vehicles and mobility services. The initial projects will look at retail sales. (Ford)
  • Planning to produce its first mainstream electric vehicle in Mexico rather than Michigan, USA. Ford said this was because it expects the market for fully autonomous vehicles to take off quickly so it wants to work on readying Flat Rock to meet the anticipated demand. (New York Times)
  • Introduced updated versions of the Transit Courier and Transit Connect (small commercial vehicles). Powertrain is now Euro 6.2-capable and Ford’s press release drew attention to the gasoline engine derivatives which feature fuel economy technologies such as cylinder deactivation. (Ford)
  • Released its 2018 trends report showing the areas that the company is watching. NOTE: the report is about societal change so those hoping for insights into diesel mix or adoption of autonomous vehicles will be disappointed. (Ford)
  • Not wishing to be outdone by GM, Ford released a blog post about its autonomous vehicle ambitions, led by a 250-strong team at Argo AI. Ford believes that a vehicle must be commercial-grade and feature upgraded attributes to enable a longer service life. The company will be beginning pilot trials in 2018, although it isn’t clear whether or not this will feature the all-new PHEV that the company is working on. (Ford)
  • Reportedly reduced the line rate in Valencia by 120 vehicles per day and will shed 280 temporary staff (up from around 100 a fortnight ago), with unspecified further employee reductions made through relocation and natural attrition. (Europa Press)

November

  • Unveiled the replacement for the Lincoln MKX and changed its name to the Nautilus. As part of a plan to deliver a more upscale user experience, Lincoln owners will get a paid subscription to a service that enables them to queue jump airport security lines. (Detroit News)
  • Announced four recalls covering over 200,000 vehicles. The main issue is loose front power seats. (Ford)
  • Enraged millions of wrestling fans by suing John Cena after the sports entertainment superstar sold his Ford GT before the end of the exclusivity period defined in the sales contract. (Economic Times of India)
  • Denied it may exit some or all South American markets following a note to investors from JP Morgan implying knowledge of management plans for an “out-of-the-box transformation plan”. (Detroit News)
  • Despite last week’s announcement of a new product in Valencia, local unions are unhappy with recent proposals from Ford to change holiday patterns and terminate the contracts of over 100 temporary employees. (Europa Press)
  • Said it would build the next generation Kuga at its Valencia, Spain plant, investing €750 million in the factory. (Ford)
  • Ended production of C-MAX Energi PHEV and will soon stop HEV as well. (Plug In Cars)
  • Signed a $765 million deal with Zotye to produce electric cars in China under a new brand. The two companies had previously signed an MoU. (Ford)
  • Bill Ford says in the past the company had “said too much” about its plans for autonomous driving and in response to criticism that the company wasn’t giving sufficient information for investors to have confidence in its future he said that clarity would be provided “when we’re ready”. (Detroit News)
  • Ford’s Chariot on-demand bus service confirmed that it is working towards a launch of operations in London. (City AM) and its subscription car service Canvas will launch in a second city, LA. (Tech Crunch)
  • French unions won a tribunal case against Ford saying that the company was violating the terms of a 2013 labour agreement where it committed to maintain 1,000 jobs at its Bordeaux site until May 2018. The union says that currently Ford only has 879 workers at the site. Workers are lobbying for the plant to be given a new transmission to produce. (Usine Nouvelle)

Q3 Earnings

  • Reported Q3 2017 financial results. Revenue of $36.5 billion was up 1.7% on a year-over-year basis, despite wholesales dropping (1.7)% to 1.5 million units. Adjusted pre-tax profit of $1.974 billion was up 40% YoY -- almost all explained by a non-repeat of recall costs in North America, although Ford attributed it to price discipline. (Ford)

October

  • Said that the “bulk” of the $14 billion of additional savings Ford said it would make following the 100-day review of the business would flow through to the bottom line, rather than be reinvested. Ford also said that it would bring autonomous vehicles into a test market in 2018. (Ford -- Webcast)
  • Argo AI announced it has acquired lidar company Princeton Lightwave, saying that it was now “uniquely positioned to innovate in both sensor hardware and the interface between sensor and software”. (Argo AI)
  • Announced a series of senior management and organisational changes. The CEO of Ford Credit now reports directly to CEO Jim Hackett and the strategy department will report to the CFO instead of the CEO. (Ford)
  • US authorities are reportedly investigating claims that Ford Fusion vehicles are susceptible to the steering wheel working loose, and in extreme circumstances coming off. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Seemingly in response to the blog post by Cruise Automation’s CEO, the CEO of Argo AI wrote an article explaining that it was “really hard” to master self-driving and that those expected rapid progress to the point where AVs are ubiquitous within “a few years” are “not well connected to the state of the art or committed to the safe deployment of the technology”. (Ford)
  • Said it would recall about 1.3 million F-150 a Super Duty trucks to fix a potential problem with water entering door latches and freezing. (Ford)
  • Had to suspend operations of the Chariot service in California after routine inspections found that some of its drivers were improperly licensed. (Wired)
  • Said that its European order bank was at record levels, having sold 30,000 Fiestas since launch. (Ford)
  • Said that it had started production of the face-lifted Ecosport in its Cariova, Romania plant. Employment at the plant will rise to 3,900 people making the small SUVs and small petrol engines. (Ford)
  • Offered a complimentary service to owners of Explorer vehicles, hoping to assuage concerns around exhaust emissions entering the cabin. Ford says that there is no issue and hopes the service offer will put the matter to rest. (Ford)
  • Ford held a strategy update session for analysts and investors to share the fruits of new CEO Jim Hackett’s 100-day study. The presentation highlighted Ford’s efforts to cut costs and improve the product. The key message was that the company is trying to move itself away from traditional low margin (and likely to be even lower margin in future) businesses such as internal combustion engines and cars. Instead, the company will invest in SUVs, mobility services and electrification with the aim of becoming the “most trusted nobility company”. The presentation was light on figures and unclear on the financial outlook, for instance it said that $7 billion was being reallocated from cars to SUVs, $0.5 billion of spending per year would move from ICEs to electrification and on top of this $14 billion of incremental savings were being made, yet it wasn’t what impact any of this has on the bottom line. Probably the most significant news was that by 2019, 100% of US cars and 90% globally will have connectivity (although Ford declined to specify what capability this would entail) and that Ford is working on new partnerships to help improve results in South America and Europe (announcements in coming “weeks, months and years”). (Ford)
  • CEO Hackett said during a speech to students that he wasn’t ready to trust a self-driving car, although he would be “very soon”. (Jalopnik)

September

  • Ford said that it would work with Lyft to integrate fleet vehicles (as opposed to driver-owned) into the Lyft system as a precursor to offering robo taxis. In the system that Ford described, it would have a technology platform that operated a pool of vehicles that could be assigned to jobs from companies such as Lyft. (Ford)
  • Ford said that production of JLR engines in its Bridgend plant will end in September 2020. According to Ford, this is 3 months earlier than expected (around half the plant’s 2,000 employees work on the engine). From 2021 onwards, the plant will only build a small petrol engine at a rate of around 125,000 per year; a marked decline from current levels. (BBC)
  • Announced a wide-ranging collaboration with Mahindra set to last for up to three years, at the end of which, further announcements could be made. The companies will set up joint groups to look at: mobility programs; connected vehicles; electrification; product development; sourcing and distribution. (Ford)
  • Is planning shutdowns at five plants in the US and Mexico due to a downturn in sales. Flat Rock will idle for 2 weeks; Michigan for 1; Kansas City for 2; Cuautitlan for 3; and Hermosillo for 2. (Detroit News)
  • The head of Ford’s smart mobility arm said that the company was working on a range of experiments to help it learn about a future state where there were fewer vehicles but more intensive use. (Economic Times of India)
  • Will add a second shift at its Russia joint venture plant in Elabuga, Tartastan due to increasing demand, creating 700 jobs. (Detroit News)
  • Revealed that it was behind the scheme to test responses to driverless schemes by having a human driver disguised as a seat. The project wasn’t a total success as a journalist spotted the driver’s hands in August and their reporting became an internet sensation. Ford revealed that the unfortunate driver had to sit through 150 hours of tests. (Ford)
  • The UAW’s chief representative for Ford said that Ford CEO has told him that the strategic review to be presented on 3rd October will not call for additional job reductions in the US. (Bloomberg)

August

  • Reported US sales for August of 209,897 units, down (2.1)% on a year-over-year basis. The decline was more than explained by drops in SUVs and Cars. (Ford). Ford’s sales in India were also down considerably YoY, a drop of (40)%. (Economic Times of India)
  • Said it will recall approximately 1.2 million vehicles in North America for two separate issues -- airbags and steering problems. (Ford)
  • Ford’s VP of manufacturing in Asia gave an interview in which he said that energy costs for production are currently higher than personnel costs in the region and then gave some examples of how Ford is trying to reduce energy usage. (AMS)
  • Said that it had signed an MoU with Chinese manufacturer Anhui Zotye to create a range of all-electric vehicles under a new brand. The JV appears to be aimed specifically at the Chinese market and would be Ford’s 3rd joint venture partner in China. Memo: Ford is following the lead of GM and Daimler by planning a China-only EV brand developed with a partner. (Ford)
  • Said that it will provide a strategic update -- presumably the new CEO’s much vaunted 100-day plan -- October 3rd. Memo: The news conference will be held on Hackett’s 134th day in charge. (Ford)
  • Ford’s VP of autonomous and electric vehicles wrote in a blog post about the company’s efforts to create a driverless vehicle for moving people and goods, but didn’t mention any timing. He revealed that the vehicle will be hybrid electric “initially” and his description makes the product Ford are developing sound like a combi-van. (Ford)
  • Is investing in Transit vehicle production (with its joint venture partner). In order to increase capacity from 290,000 to 330,000 vehicles per year. The higher production rate will be in place by September 2018. (Ford)
  • Announced that it would give a £2,000 scrappage allowance to customers in the UK who traded in older gasoline and diesel vehicles. Although Ford touted the air quality benefits, the BBC saw boosting car sales as a possible ulterior motive. (BBC)
  • Held an event in San Francisco where CEO Jim Hackett said that he believed autonomy would not lead to a big reduction in sales or car ownership. He was also non-committal on the current status of Ford’s previous commitment to bring a driverless car to market by 2021. (Detroit News)
  • Showed the all-electric commercial vehicle developed with DHL / StreetScooter. Named the StreetScooter Work XL, the vehicle can be fitted with a range of battery sizes (30 - 90 kWh = 80 - 200km range) and has different payload configurations. (Ford)
  • In an interview, the CEO of Argo.ai (in which Ford has a majority stake) talked about how and why his AI philosophy avoids deep learning algorithms and that the plan is have around 200 employees by the end of the year (from around 100 now and virtually none at the beginning of the year). (The Verge)
  • Announced that it will host a hackathon-style event in Paris over 25-26 October with a €30,000 prize on offer for the best entries. (Ford)
  • Copies of Ford’s patent for a removable steering were released. Having previously publicised its plans for a vehicle without a steering wheel by 2021, Ford believe that a removable device is required for a variety of use cases, including: extreme manoeuvre testing of production-intent vehicles and retrofitting steering wheels for users who are put off travelling in a vehicle where they are unable to take control. (US Patent Office)
  • Is reportedly under investigation by German regulators over possible diesel emission testing irregularities in Mondeo 2.0 litre models. Although the engine is used by other Ford nameplates and PSA, enquiries appear limited to the Mondeo at present. (Manager Magazin)
  • Ahead of taking part in the German diesel summit, Ford announced a trade-in incentive of up to €8,000 for EU3 vehicles (cars registered before 1st January 2003). Beyond the apparent generosity of the headline, Ford’s incentive offer looks like it is aimed at a small number of vehicles and the full incentive only applies to the most expensive vehicles in its range. (Handelsblatt)
  • Announced July sales figures for the US. Total sales of 200,212 units were down (7.5)% on a year-over-year basis. SUVs were the only segment where Ford gained sales with trucks as well as passenger cars down YoY. Ford blamed a stop-sale on Transit for the lower truck volumes. (Ford)
  • Following an interview with the CFO, Reuters wrote an article about Ford’s progress on its 100 day plan. India appears to be an area of considerable focus, with the company weighing future growth against current profitability. The timing and investment of Ford’s current commitment to bring a self-driving vehicle to market by 2021 are also said to be under review as well as possible cessation of Mondeo production in Europe. (Reuters)

Q2 Earnings

  • Reported 2nd quarter financial results. Pre-tax profits of $2.5 billion were down $(0.5) billion on a year-over-year basis. Cash flow was down $(2.9) billion YoY. Ford also announced a change to the way that it provided earnings forecasts by switching to an adjusted EPS rather than profit measure. (Ford)
  • Announced June sales figures for US and China. In the US, sales were down (5.1)% on a year-over-year basis, with increases for trucks and SUVs failing to offset a fall in fleet sales and passenger cars. (More…). Ford’s Chinese JVs reported sales up 15% YoY. (More…)
  • Announced June European sales of 128,400 vehicles, a decline of (1)% on a year-over-year basis. Ford was keen to stress the performance of CVs and SUVs and that sales were up in EU20 markets. On a vehicle line level, Fiesta (on run out ahead of the next generation model) more than accounted for the drop. (More…)

July

  • Will recall about 117,000 vehicles in North America to fix problems with seat belts. (Ford)
  • Said that it will stop production (and therefore all sales) of its B-MAX vehicle in September 2017. Instead, Ford will begin production of the EcoSport SUV (currently imported from India), reportedly hiring 1,700 additional employees. (Romania Insider)
  • The Australian consumer watchdog said it was taking Ford to court for its conduct in dealing with customer complaints about transmission problems. (Reuters)
  • Saw US safety body NHTSA increase an investigation into exhaust fumes entering the passenger cabin. An additional 400,000 vehicles have been added, bringing the tally of potentially suspect vehicles to 1.3 million. (Detroit News). Many of the vehicles were Police units and Ford drew attention to the possibility of aftermarket modifications causing odour and fume leaks. It also offered to repair affected vehicles, regardless of age or reason. (Ford.)
  • Said that shuttle service Chariot will expand to New York. (TechCrunch)
  • Saw media speculation about plans to end production and sales of Fiesta (in 2018 or 2019), Taurus (in late 2018) and C-MAX (in early 2019) in North America. (Detroit News)
  • Was reportedly approached by Lucid Motors to explore whether Ford was interested in buying the electric car start-up. Ford was said to be consumed by a 100-day review of its activities (other sources said that Ford wanted to buy Lucid but came up with a term sheet that was too complicated). (More…)
  • Ford announced its first dealer in Kuwait. (More…)
  • Ford showed off the road-going GT, boasting that it contained more lines of software programming than an F-35 fighter jet (10 million to 8 million). (More…)
  • Issued a recall notice for around 6,000 2017 model year vehicles in the US to fix problems with the transmission. (More…)

June

  • Announced that the Ford-branded GoBike scheme (run by a 3rd party called Motivate) had launched in San Francisco. The scheme will ultimately have 7,000 bicycles available. (..)
  • Will hire 160 people and renew 240 temporary positions at its plant in Valencia, Spain due to a line rate increase to satisfy demand for Kuga. Following the hiring, line rate will rise from 1,810 cars per day to 1,920. (More…)
  • Announced that 400,000 Transits will be recalled in the US to fix problems with the driveshaft flexible coupling. A very small number of Police Interceptor and Escape vehicles will be recalled to fix specific issues. (More…)
  • Announced that it would source the next generation Ford Focus (from 2019) from China rather than Mexico for North America sales. The move will save $1 billion versus Ford’s original plan, of which $500 million has been previously announced after Ford’s decision to scale back its Focus plan. The Focus will also be made in Europe. The move was announced by Ford in a press release that headlined the already widely known sourcing of SUVs rather than the Focus news. (More…)
  • Will recall 39,315 vehicles in India and 15,600 in South America to correct problems with the power steering. (More…)
  • Said that robust sales of LCVs will help Ford to remain profitable in Europe, despite Brexit currency and market growth headwinds. (More…)
  • Announced a collaboration with Deutsche Post’s subsidiary Streetscooter (maker of the eponymous light delivery vehicle) to make an all-electric version of the Transit chassis cab (it will have a purpose built box installed on the back). Production will begin in July 2017 with an aim of building 2,500 units by the end of 2018. (More…)
  • Said that it will open an office dedicated to European mobility solutions in London. The office space chosen can accommodate up to 40 people. (More…)
  • Reported European sales for May 2017. Ford sold 118,000 vehicles, an increase of 6% year=over-year. Ford saw increases in SUVs and CVs with decreased sales of traditional passenger vehicles. (More…)
  • New CEO Jim Hackett had a wide-ranging interview in which he talked about his 100 day plan which has four key elements: Re-evaluate revenue opportunities; evaluate the fitness of the company; re-evaluate capital deployment; renew focus on innovation. Hackett appeared to take personal credit for recruiting Ford’s head of autonomous vehicles (a move announced only 3 days after he became CEO). (More…)
  • Chairman Bill Ford said that it would be up to governments and regulators to decide on the ethics of how autonomous vehicles would makes decisions in crash scenarios. Ford called this the “difficult piece” of autonomy. (..)
  • Ford sent out redundancy offers to 15,000 salaried staff as part of the actions to reach a target of eliminating 1,400 positions. The payouts are expected by Ford to be between 3 and 18 months pay. (..)
  • Will add a week of production in its Louisville, Kentucky SUV plant this summer due to increased demand. (..)
  • Reported May US sales figures. Total sales of 241,126 units was an improvement of 2.2% on a year-over-year basis. Car volumes were down 10% YoY, more than offset by gains in Trucks and SUVs. (..)

May

  • CEO Mark Fields retired and was replaced by former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, who has served as a Ford board member from 2013 to 2016 and been chairman of subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC since 2016. At the same time as the appointment, Ford added a layer to its executive management team by announcing three newly created positions: Joe Hinrichs will become EVP, Operations; Jim Farley is EVP, Markets; Marcy Klevorn is EVP, Mobility. (..)
  • Following on from the new CEO appointment and the creation of the new layer of executive management, Ford made a series of subsequent executive announcements. There will be new regional CEOs in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific (only South America remains unchanged). The purchasing function will now become a part of product development and a new position of vice president for autonomous vehicles has been created. (..)
  • Issued two safety compliance recalls in North America. In total about 3,000 F-series and Explorer vehicles are affected. (..)
  • Has launched a buy out programme targeted at making 1,400 job cuts in North America and Asia. The figure is 10% of a targeted subset of the workforce in these locations. Media had initially reported figures of up to 20,000 job cuts, consistent with a 10% reduction in the entire global workforce. (..)
  • Head of product development Raj Nair said that Ford was using recent acquisition Chariot to experiment with fleet management and could develop it into a tool for autonomous fleet management. (..)
  • Announced Europe sales results for April. Overall sales of 100,800 vehicles were down 11% year-over-year. Passenger car sales fell 13% YoY, while commercial vehicles fell 5%. Ford trumpeted SUV sales growth. (..)
  • Said that it will invest $350 million into its transmission plant in Livonia, USA. The investment will create 800 jobs and be for a new front wheel drive transmission. (..)
  • Saw increased pressure on CEO Mark Fields due to the company’s poor stock price performance since he took over. Media reports speculated on the motives for a reported scheduled extension of a board meeting in order for board members to question Fields on the company’s strategy but it was unclear if this was something other than normal practice. (..)
  • Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa CEO Jim Farley called for ideas to reduce the number of cars in cities saying “we must work on how to take cars out of the system when there is an alternative, more sustainable solution”. (..)
  • Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa CEO Jim Farley said that UK trade deals with Turkey and South Africa were “equally important” to a post-Brexit trading agreement between the UK and EU. He also said that a transition period would be “really critical for the future of our investments in the UK”. (..)
  • Said that April US sales of 214,695 vehicles were down 7.2% year-over-year. (..)
  • Said that it was temporarily laying off 130 workers at its Ohio plan due to slowing demand for trucks. (..)

Q1 Earnings

  • Reported Q1 2017 revenue of $39.1 billion, a year-over-year increase of 4%. Net income of $1.6 billion was down 35% from the prior year. (..)

April

  • Announced five test fleets would trial 20 Transit plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) in London for the next 12 months. Ford did not provide specific details on range but said that there would be sufficient electric power for “the majority of inner-city trips”. The PHEV version of the Transit is scheduled for launch in 2019. (..)
  • Ford and GM expressed public support for President Donald Trump’s proposed tax reforms. (..)
  • Ford researchers published a paper showing a route to charging prismatic lithium ion cells to 85% in 2 minutes and 100% in 3 minutes (the rest did not reflect a full battery lifetime). (..)
  • EVP for the Americas Joe Hinrichs said that Ford remained calm about Tesla’s valuation and that “at the end of the day, we run our business to serve our shareholders”. (..)
  • VP of US marketing, sales and service Mark LaNeve said that Ford expects SUVs to grow from current levels of almost 40% of sales to 45 percent within five to seven years. (..)
  • Gave details of its “ambitious” electrification strategy for China including local EV production, and investment of 1.3 billion yuan in the research centre at Nanjing to develop electrified powertrains and “a broad range” of EVs by 2025. Specific product announcements were plug-in hybrids and an all-new fully electric small SUV within five years (estimated range over 450km) (Source)
  • Announced a “clever cot” which simulates a car journey so that babies can get to sleep more easily (not an April Fool’s joke) (Source)
  • Was ranked as the leading company in autonomous driving technology in a Navigant study. (Source)
  • March US sales were down 7 percent although F-series grew 10 percent (Source)

March

  • Seeking to limit the growth of long term car loans in Canada. Ford said that 41% of sales in Canada have a loan term of six years or more or a lease term of five years or more.
  • Announced new investment in its Essex (Windsor, Canada) engine plant, fulfilling a commitment made as part of agreeing a new labour contract in 2016.
  • Announced a new R&D centre in Ottowa to work on connected vehicles, employing 400 workers taken on from Blackberry (note: none of the employees were from QNX).
  • Announced a recall of 570k vehicles in North America and Europe that will cost an estimated $295m (360k vehicles recalled due to potential engine fires, 211k for potential faulty door latches). There were two additional minor recall actions of less than 1,000 vehicles.
  • Announced a recall of 53k F-250 trucks because they can roll away even when parked. The cost was not disclosed.
  • Said that any Brexit deal must include tariff-free trade with the Customs Union as well as the EU and allow access to the “best” talent
  • Announced a collective $1.2bn of investment in 3 Michigan (USA) plants - Flat Rock, Romeo and Wayne
  • Announced that it will roll-out the Vignale premium range to all UK dealers this year
  • Confirmed that the Saarlouis, Germany plant will make the next generation Focus and will receive €600 million in investments to prepare for the new model. (More…)
  • Said that it would begin trials of the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printing facility to see whether it could progress the technology beyond prototype parts and into production vehicles.