Ford Lowering Sales Goals

May 30, 2008
Days after telling its senior managers to expect cuts of at least 10 to 12 percent in the white-collar workforce, Ford has revealed that it won’t be able to meet the even modest sales targets it had set for itself as part of a broad turnaround plan.

Capturing 13 percent of the U.S. retail motor vehicle market has “become inoperable,” said Ford’s chief sales analyst, George Pipas, during an interview with the Detroit Free Press.

That’s backed up by data from R.L. Polk & Co., which just released its tally of passenger car and light truck registrations for the first three months of the year. Ford came in at 12.6 percent, Polk revealed, down from 12.9 percent – still short of the corporate goal – during the first quarter of 2007.

And recent sales trends didn’t bode well for Ford. The company is especially dependent on SUVs and pickups, the latter class of vehicles plunging from 11 to just 9 percent of the American market in recent months. That decline is a major reason why CEO Alan Mulally acknowledged, during a media conference call last week, that Ford is all but certain to miss another goal: turning a much-needed profit in 2009.

Ford isn’t the only U.S. maker on the down slope, however. GM’s share declined from 22.3 to 21.7 percent during the first quarter, while Chrysler slipped a full point, to 10.2 percent. All the Big Three makers are in the midst of rethinking their strategies and are expected to pull back on trucks, while focusing more of their efforts on high-mileage passenger cars. But production cuts are considered likely to trigger further reductions in blue-collar employment.

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