Ford Cutting Way Back On Production, Postpones F-150 Launch

Ford model F150Ford is now at pains to reduce current-model F-150 inventory. The company last week said it will postpone the launch of the new F-150 to create more time to sell current versions of the truck.

The company said it will make greater third- and fourth-quarter production cuts than it announced last month. In May and early June, Ford and General Motors, respectively, said they would cut production and product development of big SUVs and haulers to focus on small cars and fuel-sippers.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based company said in May that it would cut production in North America by 15% in the second quarter, 15% to 20% in the third quarter, and 2% to 8% in the fourth quarter. Last week the company announced it will cut third-quarter production by 25% through an additional cut of 50,000 units, and fourth-quarter production 8% to 14% by cutting an additional 40,000 units from earlier plans.



Ford will also postpone the launch of the latest version of its highest-volume vehicle, the F-150 pickup. Ford is pushing back the truck's launch--originally slated for September--to late fall in an effort to reduce inventory of current F-150's, and perhaps get a break at the gas pump.

Meanwhile, Ford is ramping up production of Ford Focus car, and Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner compact SUVs.

General Motors in May announced a plan to cut truck sales and product development to focus on new cars and future products like the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. The company also said it would pull its advertising focus from trucks and SUVs to cars and crossovers.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally conceded, in a release, that $4-per-gallon gasoline and the stagnant economy has put the brakes on trucks. "We see June industrywide auto sales slowing further and demand for large trucks and SUVs at one of the lowest levels in decades."

In addition to the Flex crossover and Lincoln MKS sedan that are on sale this month, and the forthcoming F-150 truck, Ford will introduce a new raft of cars this year: the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ, plus hybrid versions of the Fusion and Milan. The company says that by year's end, 70% of its volume will be "new or significantly upgraded compared with the 2006 models."

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