Ford's plan to fast-track its new 2009 F-150 pickup truck has hit a big snag: $4-a-gallon-gas. As a result of booming gas prices, the company will delay the launch of the new truck by several months.
Ford said in a release today that it is taking "decisive action to respond to this accelerating shift in customer demand away from large trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and crossovers." In addition to cutting production of other large trucks, Ford will push back the launch of the new F-150 by two months, putting it in showrooms in late fall.
"Our plan all along has been to introduce the new F-150 after our dealers had a chance to sell down inventory of the existing model," Ford president Mark Fields said in a release, "and - with the current slowdown in the marketplace - we decided it was prudent to adjust the start of public sale for the new truck by about two months."
Ford needs the time to clear inventory of 2008 models, but the move will almost ensure that the company will turn a loss for the fourth consecutive year. The company will also idle truck plants in Kansas City and Dearborn, and cut a production shift at both plants, while it adds production for the Ford Escape, Edge, and Flex crossovers. A third shift will be added to the Focus plant as well, giving Ford more compacts to sell as its newly updated 2008 Focus stays an unexpected hit.
Ford also confirmed today that its European Ford Focus will replace the current car in late 2010, and will be built in North America. Four- and five-door versions of that new compact will be offered for sale in the U.S.