Long dependent on big trucks and SUVs to bolster its profit line, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler are being severely impacted by the recent run up in fuel prices. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford appears to be making the most aggressive move toward retooling its line up, and will be switching production capacity from trucks to cars as soon as it can.
Though details are still to be worked out, Ford may begin building several of its European models at North American plants, replacing some of its slow-selling models. With dollar-euro exchange rates being highly unfavorable, importing cars from its European factories isn’t an option. Agreements made with the United Auto Workers will allow the switch over, a move that will save jobs, but cost the company money in retooling and reduced profits.
One of the vehicles expected to be built stateside includes the Transit Connect, a small work van currently produced in Turkey. The company began importing the vehicle earlier this year, a vehicle that should meet the cargo requirements of some contractors who don’t need the footprint and cargo area of a Ford F Series truck or E Series van.
The Detroit News says that Ford isn’t likely to announce whatever changes are being planned until later this summer, with implementation many more months away. Once done, Ford will be in the position of building most of its fleet on fewer platforms, a feat Toyota has perfected over the years.
Ford announced recently that the company will not return to profitability before 2009 with a possible further delay as the company absorbs billions of dollars in production changes. Some analysts worry that Ford will not be able to survive the financial hardship these changes will bring, but few believe that Ford has a choice either.
F-150 photo courtesy/copyright the Ford Motor Company.