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Do You Think Ford Can Survive?

2008 Ford F-Series

2008 Ford F-Series

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Ford's decision to delay by two months the launch of the new 2009 F-Series pickup is news in and of itself. But in the broader scheme of things, it's just one step in a dramatic remake that could, arguably, be the automaker's last big battle.

With the automaker's plants mortgaged up to the proverbial hilt and a growing number of investors eager to walk away, Ford has precious little time to catch up with what one senior executive has described as a "watershed" shift in the American automotive market. It also has a diminishing stockpile of resources to achieve a dramatic transformation from a company largely dependent upon light trucks, such as the F-Series and Explorer, to one where smaller, fuel-efficient passenger cars and crossovers dominate its lineup.

There's little doubt that the Ford of the future will be smaller than it has since the company's patriarch, Henry Ford I, devised that game-changing technology, the moving assembly line. Just how much smaller is uncertain, but the company's market share, which peaked around 25 percent in the ‘90s, will be hard-pressed to hold at 12 to 14 percent, even if some of the new products on the drawing board click with consumers. It seems difficult, at least for now, to imagine any of the new offerings hitting the sort of home runs Ford once swatted out of the park with the likes of the Explorer and F-150.

Yet the Fiesta and several other small products have been game-changers in Europe, where Ford is in the midst of a nascent turnaround. And history shows that the company can pull off some pleasant surprises when need be, such as the legendary first-generation Ford Taurus of 1986.

Do you think Ford has the staying power to pull off the long-awaited turnaround? Will it be able to regain its No. 2 status, or slip into the second tier of automotive manufacturers, such as its Asian affiliate Mazda?

Readers, sound out!

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