Ford Motor Company

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Toyota reported a sales increase in May of 87% compared to the same month a year ago - when the company's vehicle production had plummeted due to the tsunami hitting Japan in March.  

There were more selling days this month than last May, but it is still a robust recovery from the disaster, which reduced inventories on Toyota dealer lots and sent some customers to other car companies.

Toyota remains number three in overall sales in the U.S., however, just behind Ford, which saw its sales increase 13% in May.

via Walter P. Reuther Library / Wayne State University

The UAW remembered the 75th anniversary of the “Battle of the Overpass” Friday.

Many union members see the event as a pivotal point in Detroit--and national--labor history.

On May 26th, 1937, UAW President Walter Reuther and other union leaders were trying to organize workers at the massive Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn.

A confrontation ensued, and some union leaders were badly beaten by members of Henry Ford’s security team.

Bernie Ricke is President of UAW Local 600, which represents Ford Rouge workers today.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company has its "Blue Oval" back, after a second ratings firm upgraded Ford to "investment grade."

The trademark and other assets were put up as collateral for loans in 2006. Those loans got the company through the recession and a restructuring without a bankruptcy.

Bill Ford, Junior is the Board's Executive Chairman, and the great-grandson of Henry Ford. He says it's a "once in a lifetime" event.

"When we pledged the Blue oval it was enormously emotional for me and my family," Ford said. "Because we weren't just pledging an asset, we were pledging our heritage."

The ratings upgrade means Ford will likely have a larger pool of bond investors. The company will also have lower borrowing costs.

Alex Schulte / Michigan Radio

90,000 white collar Ford retirees will soon have a big decision to make. Should they stay in the auto company’s pension plan? Or take their chances with a lump sum payout instead?

The offer Ford Motor Company announced in late April is believed to be the first of its kind for such a large ongoing pension fund.

Lump sum the buzz at Ford retirement clubs

In Michigan there are more than 30 clubs for Ford retirees. The lump sum option is the conversation at retiree club meetings right now.

“Retirees are going to have to make a decision about mortality, about death; their own. That’s not something we do every day,” Ford retiree Charles White said. White worked at the Dearborn campus for 29 years in engineering management. He retired in 1996.

Ford

Harold A. Poling, a former Ford Motor Company chairman and CEO who was credited for reviving the company in the 1980s, died at age 86. The Detroit Free Press reports Poling passed away on May 12 in Pacific Grove, Calif.

Ford Motor Company released this statement after the news of Poling's death.

“Red Poling was an extraordinary leader who had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company and everyone who worked with him.  With a list of accomplishments that span 43 years, including leading the company through a remarkable turnaround during the 1980s and 1990s, Red was respected by all for his leadership, his passion for being the low-cost producer and  his genuine affinity for people.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

The Detroit News reports Poling made difficult decisions in the 1980s, including decisions that led to plant closures and layoffs, that returned the company to profitability.

But earlier than most American car executives, he studied Japanese practices such as just-in-time parts delivery.

"I took some very harsh actions back then," he told The Detroit News in 1993. "Ford was losing large sums of money, and there were no road maps for turning a company around. So it was all up to me."

Poling focused on quality. During the 1980s, Ford was counting on the new Escort to shore up sagging sales. But Poling delayed the introduction of an automatic transmission for the car until quality problems had been solved.

He also delayed the introduction of the Taurus by nine months until quality issues had been resolved.

The Detroit Free Press reports when Poling retired in 1994 "the company was preparing to launch a new Mustang, introduce its first minivan with the Windstar and sell the tiny Aspire subcompact car," and that he was part of a management team that "approved $3 billion to develop the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable." 

As a child, Poling said he spent a lot of time with his father who was a mechanic. “We’d grind valves, change piston rings and clutches and do lots of other jobs. It was serious work but to me it was interesting.”

One of four children, he enlisted in the Navy and then went to graduate from Monmouth College before receiving his MBA from Indiana University.

The Freep reports Poling's "all-time favorite car was the 1932 Ford Model A, the first car he bought, used, but in good shape."

Ford Motor Company has teamed up with seven other car companies to develop a faster method of recharging electric cars.

Fast-charging could help reduce the problem of what some call "range anxiety." 

One drawback of an electric car is how long it takes to recharge the battery - up to 7 hours for some electric cars. And if you push the car to its range limit you risk being stranded; that causes range anxiety. 

Mike Tinskey is associate director of vehicle electrification at Ford. He says it's hoped that eventually, "We can get to a point when we can charge just as quick as you can fuel up a conventional car with gasoline."

The new system isn't that fast, but it's a lot faster than charging on a 120 or 240 volt outlet. 

It will take about 20 minutes to get an 80% charge on a depleted electric car battery .

Other companies involved in developing the new system are Audi, BMW N.A., Chrysler, Daimler, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen ...

Ford

Ford Motor Company celebrated the official opening of its Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) plant in Rayong, Thailand. It's the company's second plant in Thailand.

The $450 million passenger vehicle manufacturing plant "will serve as the foundation for Ford’s plan to introduce eight new vehicles to the ASEAN region by mid-decade," according to a company press release.

The ASEAN region includes the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and VietNam.

Ford officials said no other auto company has invested more in Thailand over the last five years:

“The opening of this new, world-class facility is the latest example in our aggressive growth plan for this region, which represents Ford’s largest industrial expansion in half-a-century,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. “The world-class One Ford vehicles produced here will be part of our plan to launch 50 new vehicles and powertrains in Asia Pacific and Africa by mid-decade.”

Ford officials said the new facility in Thailand includes "one of the world's fastest stamping presses, and the latest in automotive manufacturing robot technologies. The plant is capable of producing 6 different vehicles simultaneously.

This allows the company to bring new vehicles to market faster, and test new vehicles while maintaining full production speed.

 

The company released this video of the plant:

A French auto parts maker says it plans to buy a parts plant in Saline, Michigan. Faurecia SA says the interior components plant will be part of a joint venture.

From the Associated Press:

Faurecia and Rush Group announced Thursday that they're creating Detroit Manufacturing Systems, a joint venture to build and automotive interior components in Detroit.

The companies say the venture expects to employ about 500 people in Detroit within the next three years and will make parts at first for Ford Motor Co.

Here's more from a Faurencia SA press release:

Faurecia will acquire the Saline business, which generates $1.1 billion annual sales supplying cockpit modules, instrument panels, door panels and center consoles for 12 vehicle programs assembled at eight Ford plants throughout North America. With this acquisition, Faurecia’s objective is to create a new operation that is optimized for efficient production, in line with the Faurecia Excellence System.

In conjunction with the Saline acquisition, Faurecia will enter into a new joint venture with Rush Group Ltd., one of the Rush Group of companies that together comprise one of the largest Native American and woman-owned businesses in North America. The joint venture, called Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS), will do injection molding, assembly and sequencing of interior trim components from a new facility in Detroit. Rush Group will hold the majority of the capital and the management of DMS, while Faurecia – with 45% of the capital – will bring its technology and manufacturing expertise to the joint-venture. As a result, the Saline plant will focus in the future on core technologies such as injection molding, skin manufacturing and foaming operations with annual revenues of nearly $400 million.

Ford

The first bit... Profits.

Ford reported  first quarter income this morning. The automaker says net income fell by 45 percent compared to a year earlier. Overall, net income totaled $1.4 billion, compared with $2.5 billion last year.

Ford says European sales plummeted and the company paid higher taxes.

The second bit... Pensions.

The company is planning to offer up lump-sum pension payments to 90,000 U.S. salaried retirees and U.S. salaried former employees.

In a statement, the company said this was part of their long term strategy to "de-risk its global funded pension plans."

If an individual elects to receive the lump-sum payment, the company’s pension obligation to the individual will be settled. This is the first time a program of this type and magnitude has been offered by a U.S. company for ongoing pension plans. Payouts will start later this year and will be funded from existing pension plan assets. This is in addition to the lump-sum pension payout option available to U.S. salaried future retirees as of July 1, 2012.

The New York Times reports the plan is to reduce liabilities to its underfunded pension plans:

Ford’s global pension plans had $74 billion in liabilities at the end of 2011 but were underfunded by $15.4 billion.

And the third bit... Consumer Demand.

Ford acknowledged they likely would not be able to keep up with pent-up consumer demand because of production constraints. Again, from the New York Times:

Ford this month increased its industry light-vehicle sales forecast for the United States in 2012 to a range of about 14.3 million to 14.8 million. But it said it expects its market share to decline because it will not be able to raise plant output quickly enough to match the market’s growth.

“We just simply can’t keep up with what we think will be the level of consumer demand,” Mr. Shanks said. “It’s not going to affect profitability because we’ll still build what we thought we would or a little bit more.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. says its credit rating has been restored to investment grade by the Fitch Ratings agency.

The automaker's debt has been at junk status since 2005. The company had to mortgage its factories and other assets to borrow billions in order to stay out of bankruptcy.

Ford issued this statement:   

“We are very pleased with today’s decision by Fitch. It is an important proof point of the continued progress the Ford team is making with our One Ford plan. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders. In fact, our One Ford plan includes achieving strong investment grade ratings and maintaining investment grade throughout an economic cycle."

Company spokesman Jay Cooney says Ford's assets will be released as collateral once a second ratings agency boosts the company's credit rating.

(courtesy of CarDomain.com)

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 140,000 Focus compact cars because the passenger side windshield wiper can fail.

Federal Safety regulators say a seal in the wiper motor wiring may be missing. Water can get inside and cause the wiper to stop working, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford Motor Co. says there haven't been any crashes or injuries from the problem.

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford says it will spend $600 million to expand its factory capacity in China as it tries to play catch-up with competitors.

The company says it will add to its factories in Chongqing to handle growing demand. The additions will give Ford the ability to make 350,000 more vehicles per year by 2014. That will increase its
total to 950,000.

Ford Motor Co. says it plans to triple the cars in its Chinese lineup to 15 over the next three years. It also will add 20 new engines and transmissions.

The company will build a new assembly line, body shop and paint shop at the Chongqing site in southwestern China. The investment will be made with the company's joint-venture partner, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Limited.

user bull_doser / wikimedia commons

Ford Motor Company is being sued by a construction and landscaping company in New Jersey for selling trucks with defective gas tanks. Reuters reports the suit seeks class-action status for other vehicle owners.

More from Reuters:

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in a New Jersey federal court said fuel tank linings on 10 E- and F-series truck models made between 1999 and 2008 would "separate and flake off."

It said this would clog fuel systems with debris and rust, causing a sudden loss of engine power, and potentially causing vehicles to buck or kick or suddenly stall.

Ford in 2007 issued a "secret" technical service bulletin to dealers advising them of the problem, but neither recalled the affected trucks nor offered to repair them for free, the complaint said.

"Hundreds, if not thousands," of drivers have experienced the defect, it added.

A Ford spokeswoman did respond to the suit. She said the company had not seen the complaint yet.

2005 Ford Taurus / wikimedia commons

Update: March 13, 2:35pm

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expanded its investigation to include some Murcury Sable models in addition to Tauruses.

The investigation now includes vehicles from the 2001-2006 model years and could affect as many as 1.9 million cars.

--------

DETROIT (AP) - Federal safety regulators are investigating complaints of throttles sticking in some Ford Tauruses.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website that 14 people have complained about the cars from the 2005 and 2006 model years, about 360,000 in all. No crashes or injuries have been reported, but the agency says a driver ran a red light and entered an intersection before the car could be stopped.

The agency says the cruise control cable may become detached and hold the throttle open. Drivers have reported that it was hard to stop the car with the brakes, and several said they had to shut off the engine or shift into neutral to stop.

Ford says it is cooperating in the probe. The cars have not been recalled.

Douglas Sprott / Flickr

Japanese car sales in the U.S. have nearly recovered, a year after a tsunami devastated parts of Japan.  

The disaster affected many Honda and Toyota suppliers, and the companies’ car inventories in the U.S. plummeted. 

Michelle Krebs is with Edmunds.com.  She says Hyundai and Kia, along with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, all benefited from the situation.  

"The market share runs about 45-46% for the Big Three in the U.S.," notes Kreb.  "That shot way up to 50.3 % - a number we hadn’t seen in a long time."

Ford Motor Company

Ford is giving its touch-screen system, called MyFord Touch, a big upgrade.   The modifications will also be made to Lincoln vehicles.

The changes will be free to customers who already have the system in their cars.  Dealers will also upgrade new cars on their lots.

MyFord Touch uses a computer touchscreen to control things like the radio, IPod, cellphone, and navigation. 

Ford acknowledges the touchscreen had problems; it shut down unexpectedly, it took too long to respond to the customer’s touch, and there was too much information on the screen.  

Update 12:35 p.m.

Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all posted higher auto sales in February.

Ford sales were up by 14% compared with February 2011.   Chrysler sales soared by 40%.  GM posted a slight 1% increase.

Erich Merkel is an analyst with Ford Motor Company.  He says rising gasoline prices influenced which vehicles sold last month.

“What we saw was really strong momentum into more fuel efficient vehicles and toward smaller vehicles," says Merkel.

Ford

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co. says it will pump $3.8 billion into its global pension plans this year as it tries to get them closer to fully funding their obligations.

The company also says that it has raised the annual pay for its 16 directors by 25 percent to $250,000.

The disclosures came in Ford's annual report filed Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ford says it will put $2 billion into the U.S. pension plan, make $350,000 in benefit payments and put the remaining $1.45 billion into other plans across the globe.

The report says that as of Dec. 31, the U.S. plan was $9.4 billion short of its obligations, while global plans, which include the U.S., were short by $15.4 billion.

user silas216 / Flickr

Michigan Radio's Laura Weber has been looking into car theft in the state and she has some good news unless you happen to be the owner of a 10-to-15-year-old truck.

That's because, Weber says, according to a recent report from Michigan's Automobile Theft Prevention Authority, the number of car thefts in the state fell roughly nine percent between 2009 and 2010. But the top ten most-stolen vehicle's in Michigan in 2010 were all older model pickup trucks.

To add some context to these findings Weber spoke with Dan Vartanian from the prevention authority:

He said theft-prevention technology is becoming standard on newer vehicles, which helps bring down the number of break-ins, but he said auto-thieves are shifting tactics to steal cars.

“We’re finding car-jackings are becoming more popular, which is a more dangerous form of theft than a would-be thief coming by and picking up your car in the driveway or on the street," said Vartanian. "So we’re concerned about that, obviously, and we’re making efforts to curb that as well.”

Regarding pickups specifically, Vartanian told Weber:

“Well, they’re not always all pickup trucks. But for the last several years they predominant type of vehicle has been the pickup truck. Reason? Very simply, if you were to ask an auto thief what vehicle is the easiest vehicle to steal on the road, they would say various Chrysler products made up of pickup trucks. The parts are interchangeable with other vehicles, they’re easy to steal...Passenger vehicles become more and more sophisticated with anti-theft locking devices, with GPS devices and so-on that are installed in passenger vehicles. Older trucks lack this type of technology." 

Bellow is a list of the top ten most-stolen models in Michigan according to ATPA, which also found that the most popular color for stolen vehicles in 2010 was black.

  1. 2000 Dodge Ram Pickup
  2. 1999 Dodge Ram Pickup
  3. 2002 Dodge Ram Pickup
  4. 1998 Ford Pickup
  5. 1997 Dodge Ram Pickup
  6. 1998 Dodge Ram Pickup
  7. 2003 Dodge Ram Pickup
  8. 1996 Chevrolet Pickup
  9. 1999 Ford Pickup
  10. 1997 Chevrolet Pickup

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Ford Motor Company

Talking Points Memo, an influential political blog, is estimating that as much as $100 million could be spent on the recall fight involving Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Ford Motor Company posted its third consecutive annual profit last year.   

It’s another sign that the company’s massive restructuring effort, which began in 2006, has returned the company to financial health. 

"This was our plan," said Ford CEO Alan Mulally.  "This is our vision of growing a great company for the good of all of us." 

Ford made an $8.8 billion pre-tax operating profit last year, not including a one-time tax gain.  That compares to an $8.3 billion pre-tax operating profit in 2010.

A group of influential Michigan business leaders says Governor Snyder and the state legislature have advanced their plan to revive the state’s economy.a

Business Leaders for Michigan released its updated Michigan Turnaround Plan Tuesday.  Their goal is to make Michigan a top-ten state for job, economic and personal income growth.

Marcus Wong / creative commons

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford is giving pay raises and bonuses to about 20,000 white-collar workers, mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Letters sent to workers last week say they'll get 2.7 percent raises on April 1. They'll also get bonuses based on performance.

The raises are a sign that Ford is confident in its turnaround and in the U.S. economy. Ford Motor Co. made $6.6 billion in the first three quarters of last year. It reports fourth-quarter earnings this month. The company's U.S. sales rose 11 percent last year.

Spokeswoman Marcey Evans says the raises are needed to keep pay competitive with other Fortune 100 companies.

Salaried workers last got raises in 2010. Only performance bonuses were given in 2011.

Ford has made a huge turnaround since 2006, when it lost $12.6 billion.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Auto companies use words such as "affordability", "reliability", "high performance", "style" and "fuel economy" to sell you a car.  

Ford Motor Company thinks they’ve got it all. Of course, they do have some competition.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports:

Ford Motor Company is unveiling its new Fusion, hoping to topple the traditional midsize sedan leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The Fusion will also come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, with the plug-in getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon. 

Here's the splashy unveiling of the 2013 Ford Fusion at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Detroit automakers are introducing cars at this year’s Detroit Auto Show that could help them make gains against foreign-based competitors. 

Ford Motor Company is unveiling its new Fusion, hoping to topple the traditional midsize sedan leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.  

The Fusion will also come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, with the plug-in getting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.  

Ford CEO Alan Mulally says the company sold a record number of Fusions in 2011 -

"It had its best sales year ever," Mulally told reporters after revealing the Fusion at Joe Louis Arena.  "So the new Fusion is going to build on that success and be very, very popular with consumers."

But Ford Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, Jr., says the company is not going to pursue an increase in market share for the coveted midsize sedan segment just for the sake of market share.

"We are not going to play that volume game," he says.  "If it happens organically, great, but we don’t have some magic number on the wall that we’re all pushing toward."

Meanwhile, Cadillac on Sunday introduced a new small luxury vehicle, the ATS, to compete against BMW and Mercedes Benz.   GM North American President Mark Reuss says the car is a "true driver's car," and can compete head to head with the Mercedes Benz C class and the BMW 3 series.

BMW North America head Ludwig Willisch says a new competitor is always a concern, but he's confident that upgrades to the new 3-series will enable the company to keep its leadership position.

For its part, Chrysler introduced a new small car called the Dodge Dart.  The car will compete against small cars made both by its Detroit rivals and foreign-based companies including Toyota, Honda and Hyundai.

automotiveauto.info

The heads of two of Detroit’s car companies say they’re concerned about the debt crisis in Europe. 

European consumers are pulling back from buying cars because of fears about the Euro and the economy.   

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday said he’s hopeful the new leadership in Italy will help turn things around in that country.  But he says car sales in Europe could worsen through next year.   

At the Detroit Economic Club Thursday, GM CEO Dan Akerson said the crisis could damage more than car sales.  But he’s hopeful the U.S. economy has become more resilient.

"Could the United States withstand a recession in Europe?" he asked rhetorically.  "I think it could. "

Ford CEO Alan Mulally earlier this month took the most optimistic view, saying he expects some global economic growth next year, despite sovereign debt concerns.

General Motors made $1.7 billion in the third quarter of this year.

That's down from $2 billion in the same period of 2010.

Financial turmoil in Europe contributed to GM's continued losses in Europe, although GM did cut those losses in half compared to last year, to $300 million.

GM is also not doing particularly well in South America.  The company broke even in that region.  GM officials say that's due to increased competition in the region and an aging lineup there.

The CEO of Ford Motor Company says the company is well on the way to fixing quality problems in new Ford cars.

The problems resulted in a big drop in the rankings for Ford in Consumer Reports' 2011 reliability survey.

Customers are having problems with the company’s My Ford in-car communication system. 

Users found the touch screens hard to activate or they had to be rebooted frequently.  

Consumer Reports' David Champion said that’s a safety issue, if people are so distracted by the problems that they take their eyes off the road.  

The new transmission in the Focus and Fusion has glitches, too. 

CEO Alan Mulally said both problems are software related.  

"So it’s relatively easy and fast, to be able to make those improvements," Mulally told Michigan Radio.  "So we’ve already started to incorporate that in the products that are in the field but also in the new products coming out."

Mulally said Ford began working on the issue a year ago, right after customers started complaining. 

Ford fell from 10th to 20th place this year in the Consumer Reports reliability survey.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company reports strong profits for the third quarter.  The company made $1.6 billion, despite a stagnant U.S. economy.   

The company's profit was down a bit from last year, because of a charge related to commodities, not because sales have slowed. 

Ford also reduced its debt by another $1.3 billion.

CEO Alan Mulally says the improved balance sheet -- and the new contract with the United Auto Workers -- will result in job growth over the next three to four years.

Ford Motor Company fell from grace in a Consumer Reports survey this year.

The survey predicts reliability of new models, based on past performance of older versions of the cars.

Ford dropped from 10th place to 20th.

David Champion is with Consumer Reports. 

He says the MyFordTouch and MyLincoln Touch in-car communications systems work poorly.

And a new transmission in the Ford Focus and Fusion doesn’t work well, especially at parking lot speeds.

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