Fords Comeback Lacks Momentum

By: Jenny Mclane

General Motors Corp. is heading toward recovery. And Ford Motor Co. is expected to follow after. Though it is apparently exerting efforts, they still lack momentum to save the sputtering automaker.

Ford earlier announced its campaign involving zero-percent financing and $1,000 savings on range of brands. These strategies are aimed at increasing the February sales by 3.4 percent. But February sales turned out to be a frustration. But Mark Fields, the Ford Americas president, is still confident the automaker could still achieve its turnaround goals for the year.

The automaker received more bad marks on its latest internal report card. The report card was shared to ford's employees following Fields' weekly Webcast. The report card reflects that the automaker's February retail sales in the United States were worse than the company projected they would be a month ago.

The recovery plan require for the company to hold onto just over ten percent of the domestic retail market in February. Last month, it said that was improbable but it contended the company could hold the line at ten percent. Nevertheless, Ford only managed to claim a 9.8 percent share in February, missing the target by about 1,900 units.

The automaker blamed the results on weaker than expected sales of the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle, Ford Mustang sports car and the F-series pickup. But with the new ad campaigns, executives are confident that sales will return to the right track. The ad campaign challenges consumers to compare Ford products to the product line of rival manufacturers.

Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said the numbers presented to employees only show part of the picture. "This is not a comprehensive look at everything affecting the business," Suris said in an interview. "There are other areas where we are ahead of schedule. Overall, we are where we expected to be at this point."

According to the report card, 39 percent of those surveyed said they had an "excellent" view of Ford. "That's better than our domestic competitors," Suris said, though he said the company still has a ways to go before catching up with Japanese brands like Toyota. "We don't want to stay there." The document also showed that financial weakness at many of Ford's suppliers continues to be a challenge.

During his webcast, Fields said improving brand favorability is a key objective of Ford's recovery plan. Fields also challenged employees to talk up the company's new products with everyone they know, saying word-of-mouth marketing can help change the way people look at Ford.

Ford is motivated to make a moving change this year to alleviate its standing. This change could be triggered by powerful campaigns, auto parts upgrade, and efficient work plan. The heat of the auto competition is getting hotter to test not just the performance of but the survival instinct of the automakers.

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