Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

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Thread: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

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    Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Automotive News Europe
    May 23, 2017 11:42 CET -- UPDATED: May 23



    LONDON -- Ford's sudden replacement of CEO Mark Fields with turnaround specialist Jim Hackett has put its European operations under scrutiny -- with industry watchers speculating whether the company will exit the region like its crosstown rival General Motors.

    Europe is making a profit for Ford again after three years of losses between 2011 and 2015, but the margin is still very thin at just 2.3 percent for the first quarter.

    Ford also faces the same market pressures GM faced:

    • Increasing competition from premium brands targeting mainstream customers

    • Rising development costs for small vehicles that are too sophisticated for most other global markets

    • Toughening regulatory pressures on tailpipe emissions, especially for diesel cars, which account for half of Europe's market but don't sell in big numbers elsewhere.

    "We need to speed-up decision making and address under-performing areas," Bill Ford, the automaker's executive chairman, told analysts and reporters on Monday when announcing Hackett's appointment.

    Hackett, 62, turned office furniture manufacturer, Steelcase, into a global leader and has led the Ford unit developing self-driving cars and related projects for the past year.

    GM's focus on improving shareholder value by selling its unprofitable European brands, Opel and Vauxhall, to France's PSA Group, as well as quitting tough markets such as Russia, India and South Africa led to criticism from investors that Fields was moving too slowly to restructure the automaker.

    Tackling problem areas


    "Those things are front and center on the agenda — very quickly," Hackett told the Detroit News in an interview on Monday, referring to Ford's presence in India and the future of small cars in the U.S. market where SUV sales are booming. "There’s a long list like that. We will address all those."

    Ford has already shown it will quit markets that aren't working for the company, including last year Japan and Indonesia. It is scaling back its car production in Thailand to focus on pickups.

    Ford said earlier this month it plans to cut 1,400 salaried jobs in North America and Asia through voluntary early retirement and other financial incentives to help boost its sagging stock price.

    A Ford of Europe spokesman told Automotive News Europe on Tuesday: "We are not about to exit Europe."

    The cuts will not apply to Ford in Europe where last year the automaker reduced its workforce by 1,000 to 52,000, mostly losing white-collar jobs. However, unions fear Ford is preparing to ax jobs in the UK following Brexit and have said they will fight potential job losses of 1,160 at the automaker's engine plant in Bridgend, Wales.

    Europe as a whole has a 21 percent manufacturing overcapacity in 2016, according to a IHS Markit analysis cited by Ford in its 2016 financial report. Ford didn't mention what its capacity figure was for Europe, where it has 16 plants.

    Brexit effect

    The UK is Ford's biggest European market, but Ford has said its 2017 European profits will be lower because of the pound has collapsed since Britons voted last June to leave the EU, making its cars more expensive. The company posted a record $1.2 billion European profit last year. In the first quarter pretax profit in Europe was $176 million, its eighth-consecutive quarterly profit.

    Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said Hackett will face the same challenges as outgoing CEO Fields did including a thin product cycle as the U.S. market has become more challenging, incremental contribution cost in recently launched products, and lower earnings in Europe following Brexit,

    Ford will need to re-evaluate areas of the business where it continues to struggle to meet its cost of capital just as GM has done by exiting from regions and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has done by abandoning some segments, Ellinghorst said.

    "Ford should consider regional and product exposures as well as the future of Lincoln," he wrote in a note to investors.

    Better shape

    Bernstein analyst Max Warburton believes Ford is unlikely to follow GM and quit Europe. "Ford of Europe is in better shape than GM Europe. European industry pricing is the best it has been in 20 years," he told Automotive News Europe.

    "I also sense that the Ford family have an emotional attachment to Europe. And even if they did want out, the only buyer in town just bought GM Europe."

    Ford has a strong manufacturing footprint in low-cost eastern Europe and Turkey, which GM didn’t have. Ford builds the EcoSport small SUV in Romania and vans in Turkey. Its vans were market leaders in Europe in 2016, according to Ford.

    Ford also has worked to reduce capacity in the region over the last few years, closing its factory in Genk, Belgium, and two plants in the UK.

    Apart from anything else, Ford doesn't have a standalone brand to sell to another player in Europe, like GM did with Opel and Vauxhall. A buyer could hardly continue to use the Ford name.

    But the problem is unlikely to arise. Said Warburton: "My guess is ‎Hackett will have lots to focus on before he needs to worry about Europe."

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    Ford of Europe having been struggling in Europe for a few decades, Ford need to do what use to well in the past for them, take the battle to RWD BMW & RWD Mercedes Benz with a with a couple fun to drive "fuel efficient' nice shaped RWD cars slotted in the middle & top of the range with higher profit margins that offer something different other than what every other mass producer is doing making huge losses made on small FWD cars, as the German luxury brands start to move down to start stealing Astra/Golf/Focus sales by pricing just a fraction above the mass producer.

    Ford of Europe's most profitable years in Europe were the early 1970's, they use to send huge profits back to Detroit when the whole Ford of Europe range was RWD only same as the luxury premium priced German BMW & Mercedes use. Long gone are the 370,000 sales a year Cortina/Taunus sales that have been replaced with a bloated obese overweight FWD Mondeo that struggles to make 50,000 sales full of expensive tech thats pricing itself out the market as the RWD 3 Series sells 3 to 4 more times more cars.

    RWD BMW & RWD Mercedes have both overtaken $25 billion loser mass producer Opel Group in sales last month, and they are moving in on Ford now Mercedes actually overtook Fords sales in Europe Europe, Germans are making billions in profits from the huge luxury car market with premium priced fun to drive "fuel efficient" RWD cars, its about time Ford of Europe woke up.

    2016 European Sales April
    No 5 Ford 86,791
    No 6 Opel Group 81,087
    No 7 BMW Group 80,795
    No 8 Mercedes Group 79,446

    2017 European Sales April
    No 5 Mercedes Group 77,277 -2.7%
    No 6 Ford 76,899 -11.4%
    No 7 BMW Group 75,965 -6%
    No 8 Opel Group 70,227-13.4%

    Never have l seen both Ford and Opel sitting so low in the European sales charts struggling to make a dime and looking very weak making no profits on small FWD cars, never have l seen BMW & Mercedes Benz sitting so high in the European sales looking so strong making huge multi billion dollar profits on mainly "fuel efficient" 2.0L diesel RWD cars i.e. 2.0L 72 MPG RWD BMW 520D & 80 MPG RWD 3 Series 320D, if only Ford could be offered products like these, Europeans would buy them they are not anti Ford, if they were offered them they "would" buy them, Ford of Europe are there own worst enemy for not offering the right products that BMW & Mercedes offer who have now overtaken Ford in sales, as well as making billions in Europe whilst overtaking Ford for the first time ever in sales in Europe..

    Thank God for the US pick-up trucks and SUV's that all thats generating the huge profits at the moment, l am glad Jim Hackett is now focusing in on Ford of Europe they could be in the last chance saloon like Opel what they do in the next decade is critical, if they become complacent just do the same thing and they will be a gonna like Opel, l just hope Ford of Europe wake up an start giving Europeans the right products they would warm to if only they were ever offered them that make a huge tidy profit again like the stunning RWD cars FOE sold in the 70's but l don't thing we will ever see them days ever again race slaughter BMW & Mercedes on the race track/rallying at the weekend sell thousands of base bare bone models on a Monday morning in the showroom. Its good to see Ford GT doing so well Le Mans winning GT Pro first time out the box, and see Ford of Europe a huge loss making rudderless ship start turn the corner with a new new flagship, and FOE returning to a small profit last year a small light of hope is still flickering in Europe, the small gadget overloaded FWD cars with no profits on the roof fleet dumped sold to Avis/Hertz at a billion dollar losses has been a total failure in Europe that has got to stop!
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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    It will be interesting to see what changes Ford makes. 2.3% margin in Europe is not worth the investment in the continent; obviously they need to figure out how to improve that and it will be interesting to watch them do it. And sentiment doesn't put bread on the table, I'd think stock holders will want to dump Europe....

    I didn't know Ford left Japan... I wonder when Trump will go after Japan and their unfair trade practices, he has been totally mum on them as far as I know. I wonder if we keep quiet about the trade imbalance to help out Japan with their staggering debt and trying to keep them from imploding as I assume it will not be pretty for the global community if that happens (though I know much of the Japanese debt is held by the Japanese).

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Enough with the RWD pitch! Not going to happen with fossil fuel cars.
    Mercedes and BMW are embracing FWD, and not just in Europe. They can ask higher prices, because their image is better. And sometimes the product is.
    Now, for electric cars, the playing field is wide open.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldsmobile stopped View Post
    Automotive News Europe
    Never have l seen both Ford and Opel sitting so low in the European sales charts struggling to make a dime and looking very weak making no profits on small FWD cars, never have l seen BMW & Mercedes Benz sitting so high in the European sales looking so strong making huge multi billion dollar profits on mainly "fuel efficient" 2.0L diesel RWD cars i.e. 2.0L 72 MPG RWD BMW 520D & 80 MPG RWD 3 Series 320D, if only Ford could be offered products like these, Europeans would buy them they are not anti Ford, if they were offered them they "would" buy them, Ford of Europe are there own worst enemy for not offering the right products that BMW & Mercedes offer who have now overtaken Ford in sales, as well as making billions in Europe whilst overtaking Ford for the first time ever in sales in Europe..
    So you think if Ford made Mondeo RWD they can ask the same price as BMW or Mercedes? I hope i've misunderstood that.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by asrapid1 View Post
    So you think if Ford made Mondeo RWD they can ask the same price as BMW or Mercedes? I hope i've misunderstood that.
    No l never said that you are writing the post for me.

    Please listen - Ford use to sell 370,000 RWD Cortina/Taunus a year back in the 70's in Europe, it was Ford of Europe most relative profitable time ever in Europe.

    No 80 in EU sales Mondeo 50,000 sales weight is double that of the original No 1 Cortina/Taunus 370,000 sales on the same timeline made a lot more money. Ford just lost the plot, l guess its the baby boomers that were buying fun to drive RWD Cortina's like the Jeremy Clarkson just moved on into BMW & Mercedes Benz today in Europe today as there fortunes changed with time, so it does not surprise me Mercedes Benz have now overtaken Ford in sales in Europe for the first time ever last month.

    l was just asking for a new "fuel efficient" mid sized & large sized RWD from Ford today, that was the most profitable times for Ford in Ford of Europe's history it worked well. RWD BMW 3 Series never sold in very big numbers back then. Fast FWD to FWD Mondeo on the same timeline its total garbage sells only 50,000 it is fitted with a garbage drivetrain no one wants, BMW 3 Series now is selling 150,000 to 200,000 a year BMW are making billions in Europe. The smaller sized RWD Cortina/Taunus just generated large profits from higher sales.

    RWD BMW & Mercedes are moving down into Astra/Focus/Golf territory with FWD cars that will have BMW base models priced just below the mass producers fully loaded cars its gonna be a bloodbath, It a shame Ford can't attack back by moving up market with premium ultimate driving machines RWD drive train with one mid sized with a BMW 320D 80 MPG "fuel efficient" RWD car, which can pack a punch through the rear wheels with a sporty option as well like BMW M3 that does not have that horrible boring drive Mondeo that suffer dreadful torque steer through the front wheels the moment you add a little that make you cringe, AWD adds more weight costs, the AWD Mondeo is garbage as well its to expensive for a Ford nobody buys them either it puts you into BMW prices.

    A slimed down more "fuel efficient" 80 MPG like the BMW 320D with a fun to drive ultimate driving machine quality premium RWD drivetrain would not attract the same price as a BMW, a lot smaller than the current obese Mondeo would generate a lot more profit in Europe if Ford offered the choice but they never have offered that so we shall never ever know, Mondeo is a total failure compare to the RWD Cortima/Taunus 370,000 generated the most profitable years in Europe Ford has ever had, Cortina/Taunus and Mondeo shared the same timelines that sat at the top of the EU sales charts every month rather than the somewhere around 80th place where the FWD Mondeo lives today, the FWD Mondeo is a loser the RWD Cortina/Taunus was a No1 winner in simple terms sorry for the long winded explanation.

    You just try ask for Ford/Opel in for a 80 MPG 'fuel efficient' mid sized RWD car thats taboo we can't talk about that, the only know-how to do is drop a v8 into one that is out of tune with EU $9 gas, it seems it is a cardiganl a sin to offer something like BMW & Mercedes Benz offer and are making billions on, its not hard how Opel have just lost $25 billions on small FWD crap.

    Good job American athletes are not like US "cars" in the olympics no-can-do Europe Lincoln/Cadillac that premium price don't say we can't complete with Germany in olympics, German designers are human beings just like American, if Ford offered a decent fuel efficient RWD 80 MPG mid sized car l think Ford would we pleasantly surprised how well it would do and the revenue it would generate, just ask Apple if Europeans are biased if you can deliver the right product to the European market that attracts a premium price higher sales than a crap low rent garbage FWD Mondeo, the day a losers FWD Mondeo beats a winner like a $409,000 RWD Ford GT a BMW price beater or a RWD Corvette winning at LE Mans GT Pro will be the day l know a FWD car is not total garbage together on the cheap sold a huge loss.

    Sorry l just think Ford should just be taking aim back at the Germans with a mid sized fun to drive "fuel efficient' RWD car you will be surprised at just how many baby boomers used to drive RWD Fords in their youth when Europe was swamped out with RWD Fords. These same baby boomers are now have become the mainstay of RWD BMW & Mercedes Benz premium buyers huge profit generators today, Ford just don't offer a fuel efficient RWD car to buy of end of story it's as simple as that, BMW & Mercedes have just filled the void. Mass producer Ford just become low volume seller behind RWD Mercedes Benz last month just add insult to it all, FWD Opel mass producer are just a $25 billion $ loser thats sad as well, RWD BMW overtook them in sales in Europe last month. Its very sad to watch this happen, and its gonna get worse.
    Last edited by Oldsmobile stopped; 05-27-2017 at 01:39 PM.
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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by jalberda View Post
    Enough with the RWD pitch! Not going to happen with fossil fuel cars.
    Mercedes and BMW are embracing FWD, and not just in Europe. They can ask higher prices, because their image is better. And sometimes the product is.
    Now, for electric cars, the playing field is wide open.
    LOL wash you mouth out with soap FWD garbage Ford Focus crap low priced junk with a huge loss on the roof 61 European Sales v 15,451 RWD premium priced Tesla sales in 2016, surely it will be goodbye out of touch Ford of Europe hello Tesla in Europe in the future when fossil fuels run out?

    Automotive News...

    Ford ends Focus EV production in Europe

    Nick Gibbs
    Automotive News Europe
    April 12, 2017

    LONDON -- Ford Motor has ended European series production of the full-electric version of its Focus.

    Ford began production of the Focus Electric at its plant in Saarlouis, Germany, in 2013, alongside internal combustion engine versions of the compact model.

    "Volumes are not strong enough. We will revisit when the market matures," Graham Hoare, Ford's head of global vehicle evaluation, told journalists on the sidelines of the Connected Car conference held by UK industry association SMMT earlier this month.

    Ford sold just 61 Focus Electric models in Europe last year, down from 70 in 2015, according to market analysts JATO Dynamics.
    LINK

    Only teasing you a bit with some true facts, gotta say you could put my name down for an awesome RWD/4WD Ford Ranger hybrid or awesome RWD hybrid/v8 Stang thats gonna be sold by Ford both in the US/EU or an awesome RWD/4WD F-150 hybrid in the US the only one model that keeps Ford in massive profits globally the way to go, at last biggest earner at Ford the F-150 finally gets a hybrid offering that stands to gain the most in fuel saving, and about time to. Ford can't run a piss-up brewery fancy making a boring low rent FWD garbage Focus an EV first thats normally fleet dumped at Hertz at a huge loss in Europe.

    61 Focus EV sales comical Ally, and now Ford of Europe have pulled the plug on another potential huge loss maker, meantime RWD Mercedes Benz/RWD BMW both with 800,000 sales in Europe making billions and billions mainly on RWD 2.0L diesels get to live another day now the Focus EV is still born dead in water with 61 sales losing huge money on roof, you could make up some of the crap people like you post on GMI.
    Last edited by Oldsmobile stopped; 05-27-2017 at 05:42 PM.
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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Last time I checked, Tesla wasn't exactly raking in the profits....
    Sure, the Electric Focus was a half-assed effort. I'm guessing it was more about gaining experience with EV's than making a profit. Hell, who DOES make a profit from EV's these days?
    It's all about positioning in that space right now. And Tesla is doing a very good job at that.
    The drive train in EV's is way more compact/flexible than petrol or diesel engines, so there might be some more RWD cars in the future.

    But stating that going back to RWD cars would have helped Ford in Europe is just ridiculous. They might have sold more Cortinas back in the day, but giving the size creep of new generations, that space is now occupied by the Focus.
    And may I remind you that Audi hasn't been doing too shabby with FWD (and a few 4WD) cars?
    In the end, it's about image. The world has become obsessed with brands. The premium brands are riding that wave, kind of diminishing their brand, but raking in the profits.
    Ford, and even more so Opel, didn't have and never will have that image. The attention span and management changes at American-led companies are way too short for that. Quarterly reports aren't helping with long term strategy.
    VW, being secure with their shareholders and the longer term strategies that go with it, could do it. They have taken the long view on Audi for the last 25 years. They are doing the same with Skoda now, morphing it slowly into the space Volvo used to occupy.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by jalberda View Post
    In the end, it's about image. The world has become obsessed with brands. The premium brands are riding that wave, kind of diminishing their brand, but raking in the profits.
    It could be interesting to watch how long that wave will hang? Diminishing the image of the brand for more popularity and profits,being more common will hurt in the long-term. Seeing a janitor or a gardner owning a BMW might hurt the pride of a CEO who own the same BMW.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by Stéphane Dumas View Post
    It could be interesting to watch how long that wave will hang? Diminishing the image of the brand for more popularity and profits,being more common will hurt in the long-term. Seeing a janitor or a gardner owning a BMW might hurt the pride of a CEO who own the same BMW.
    Absolutely. That's why the non-premium brands must play to their strengths. Like Citroen has been doing recently.
    Thing is, Citroen does have a well-known reputation for comfort and quirky. Ford and Opel are less well-defined. Since the first Mondeo, driving dynamics have been a focal point for Ford, but a lot of people don't realize that yet. Opel used to be dependable, but hasn't been anything to write home about in that regard. So I wish PSA good luck with that.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Some food for thoughts, if Ford decide to sell Ford-Europe; who could be interested to acquire Ford-Europe?

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by Stéphane Dumas View Post
    Some food for thoughts, if Ford decide to sell Ford-Europe; who could be interested to acquire Ford-Europe?
    Kind of hard to imagine, the name being the same worldwide.
    Cars don't rebrand well.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by jalberda View Post
    Kind of hard to imagine, the name being the same worldwide.
    Cars don't rebrand well.
    And to that point, GM's badge engineering of the 80's.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Not sure what Ford is going to do, but leaving Europe would be a HUGE mistake and will not help the Stock price.

    Ford has to increase top line revenue to increase Stock price, and leaving the third largest Auto Market in the world is not the way to get there.

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Ford isn't leaving Europe. Its products are too integrated in their worldwide portfolio.
    Just because GM couldn't make Europe work for them and threw in the towel, means that other manufacturers should follow that example. Toyota isn't quitting. FCA isn't. Honda isn't. Hell, even Tesla is setting up shop in Europe!

    Ford started rationalizing in Europe somewhat earlier than GM and didn't do such a half-assed job. And the products are sold all over the world. Essential vehicles like the Focus and Fiesta probably wouldn't be economic without the European sales. And yeah, just because the F-series is more relevant in the US, doesn't change that. The world is a bit bigger than just the US. And these days, let's be glad for that.
    Last edited by jalberda; 05-29-2017 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    Re: Ford's leadership reboot brings focus on Europe

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    It will be interesting to see what changes Ford makes. 2.3% margin in Europe is not worth the investment in the continent; obviously they need to figure out how to improve that and it will be interesting to watch them do it. And sentiment doesn't put bread on the table, I'd think stock holders will want to dump Europe....

    I didn't know Ford left Japan... I wonder when Trump will go after Japan and their unfair trade practices, he has been totally mum on them as far as I know. I wonder if we keep quiet about the trade imbalance to help out Japan with their staggering debt and trying to keep them from imploding as I assume it will not be pretty for the global community if that happens (though I know much of the Japanese debt is held by the Japanese).

    Do you think Ford should exit Europe?


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