Time is not Fords Ally

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Struggling automaker, the Ford Motor Company is currently pushing the implementation of its turnaround plan. After losing billions last year, the most that the company has lost in its lengthy history, Ford is now looking to increase sale and stabilize its market share. For the past decade or so, Ford has seen the decline of their market share. Ford is hoping to stop the slide by their vehicles for the 2008 model year lineup.

The company though is facing an uphill battle since many American auto buyers are still caught in the perception that Ford vehicles lag behind their Asian counterparts in terms of reliability. This is because of the fact that Japanese carmakers such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan have proven years ago that they produce durable vehicles. Today, Ford and other American car manufacturers are battling this perception.

Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas. said that they are already making a good start in the implementation of their turnaround plan. According to Fields, Ford is already on its way to stabilizing its market share between 14 to 15 percent. Stopping the shrinking of their market share is the first move that the company needs to take in order for that market share to increase in the future.

To catch the attention of American auto buyers, Ford has been aggressively advertising their new vehicles. The Ford Fusion is being pitted against its established competitors, the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, in the Fusion Challenge. The ad campaign is based on actual drive tests where real life consumers rated the Fusion higher than the Camry and the Accord in certain areas.

The result of this aggressive ad campaign is positive for the company as increased sales for the new Ford Fusion shows. Aside from the Ford Fusion, the Mercury Milan also showed increased sale as a result of the aggressive marketing campaign of the Dearborn-based car manufacturer. According to Fields, the Ford Edge, the automaker's entry to the midsize crossover SUV segment is doing well. In fact, according to Fields, the Edge is outselling the Toyota Highlander.

Aside from these nameplates showing increased sale, Ford's luxury brand Lincoln is also showing signs of growth. In the past, the Lincoln brand is one of the more popular luxury brands in the country but its popularity has been declining in the past years. Recently though, the brand is being touted as one of the fastest growing luxury brands in the market.

Other nameplates which are doing well in the market aside from the best selling Ford F 150 and its are the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner. These crossovers have given Ford a foothold in the growing crossover market. The segment in the past has been dominated by Asian carmakers but now, Ford is making a niche in the said market with the Escape and the Mariner.

But while these nameplates and the Lincoln brand are showing promises of resurgence for the company, they are still facing problems. For one, they are still in the process of repaying their $23 billion loan last year. "Time is not our friend," said Fields. In order to bring the company back to profitability, Ford needs car buyers to not only say that their vehicles are competitive but buy them.

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