2011 Ford ExplorerEnlarge Photo
With a brace of new products arriving in the 2011 model years--the Fiesta, the F-150 and a Focus lineup coming soon--Ford is planning more new vehicles for its namesake and Lincoln brands.
In the future, though, the number of models the company sells could fall dramatically, according to CEO Alan Mulally.
In a press conference on Monday in London, Mulally told reporters that Ford is on its way to trimming its model lineup from the 97 different vehicles Ford sold in 2006, to 30 in the near term. In the longer term, Mulally says the company is "on our way to 20 to 25," Bloomberg reports.
In 2006, Ford still had possession of all the brands it's since divested, including Jaguar/Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Mercury.
The attrition from those brands alone will get the company within the range of 30 vehicles. Ford will also prune some models from its current portfolio as it brings out new vehicles in 2011 and 2012. The Ford Explorer is new this year, for example--but the Explorer Sport Trac pickup version has been cancelled, and production is ending at its assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky.
Reducing the number of models it sells will help Ford boost its efficiency in manufacturing--a specialty of Mulally's, since he arrived at Ford fresh from Boeing where he rationalized production of that company's airliner fleet after its merger with McDonnell-Douglas.
Mulally's success at Ford--the only domestic automaker to steer clear of accepting federal loan guarantees--has led to speculation he might be asked to return to Boeing, which is experiencing lengthy delays delivering its 787 Dreamliner jet to its first customers. Fox Business' Neil Cavuto has asked Mulally if he's been sought out for a position in the Obama administration, a question Mulally deflected in an interview last month.