For most of my life, people said that if I cut myself, I would bleed Ford blue. I worked at and/or owned Ford dealerships for over 30 years. I was the first two-time Chairman of the Ford National Dealer Council. I was the largest Ford dealer/owner in Texas for 7 straight years. So, why in hour 2 of last Saturdayís show did I tee off on the company I represented for decades?
It is simple: I still care and have fond memories of the Blue Oval. However, I canít stand to see some of the mistakes the current CEO is making-in my opinion.
It started because of disgust that Ford did not report its 2019 sales by Friday, January 3rd like every single one of the other 31 brands that sell vehicles in America. I would have loved to have had that information for you last Saturday. The nationís economists needed the information last Friday, Wall Street was waiting to report 2019 auto sales, but Ford held everything up until this past Monday.
That led me to the CEO, Jim Hackett, of whom I have not been a fan, and I truly gave him a chance in the beginning. I admit I was skeptical from the start because his claim to fame was running a desk manufacturing company into the ground. Still, there was hope because the best CEO in Ford history in my opinion, Alan Mulally, came from outside the auto industry.
My biggest complaint with Hackett was the decision to abandon the car business, and by car I mean sedan and hatchbacks. In the radio clip below, I talk about how the market can change due to gas prices escalating. Iíve seen it many times starting in the early Ď70s. People tend to panic and trade their big trucks and SUVs for cars, particularly fuel-efficient ones.
Since the sales numbers are out now, I looked at Ford CAR sales for 2019. The four Ford cars sold in 2019 were the Fiesta, the Fusion, the Taurus, and for part of the year, the Focus. Total sales for the year of those four? 252,096. To be fair as we look ahead, Fusion will have some sales in 2020 before it gets hacked by Hackett.
Question for Mr. Hackett, should he see this: Where are you going to make up that quarter of a million sales?
Observation for Mr. Hackett: Did you know that your four dying cars combined outsold the lineups of Acura, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, and Chrysler in 2019? The Ford cars you have pronounced as dead sold over twice the total number of Lincoln cars and SUVs in 2019.
Where are the loyal people who bought Ford cars over the last decade going to end up? They will likely visit for the first time a Toyota dealership, or their local Honda store, maybe Hyundai, Kia, or Nissan. Does it concern you Mr. Hackett that those millions of people may discover what great cars those automakers sell? Once they figure that out, when itís time for that next truck or SUV, they may well not visit their favorite Ford dealership.
Mr. Ford, I shall always remember the day you called first to tell me you were firing Jac Nasser. Feel free to call me to discuss that you are firing Mr. Hackett. Youíve made some great hires, like Mr. Mulally. Now it is time to admit you made a mistake with Hackett.
If you missed my on-air comments, no problem, you can grab them here:
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When the current model Ford Fusion came out it was ahead of its time. In 2013 the new sleek and sexy design set a standard for 4 door sedans. I bought a 2019 Accord and it has similar swept back coupe styling that ford introduced in 2013.
These are the sales figures when the car was introduced:
Annual Ford Fusion sales jump from 142,000 vehicles in 2006, the popular midsize sedan's first full year on sale, to 306,000 in 2014 when the new model debuted. 100% gain
Over the same period, Honda Accord went from 354,000 vehicles sold to 388,000, while Toyota Camry sales fell, from 448,000 vehicles sold to 428,000
Fusion had much higher increases than both those popular vehicles.
What does ford do then? Nothing. They proceeded to let the fusion die. Not one chance or update. By 2019 it had a dated interior compared to rivals. While the accord improved its interior to near luxury ford changed nothing. When it was time for me to buy, I looked at both because they were similarly styled and good looking. That is until I sat in them. That made my decision.
Here is a little news flash from a business man outside of the auto business. If you don't market a product and you don't continually update it to keep it current, sales will drop. Not rocket science.
Tell Mr ford I can send him my Resume. I would be willing to relocate if necessary. I don't have experience, but from what I can tell you don't need experience to run a one great American icon into the ground.
Good luck Mr Ford, when you have a stockpile of electric vehicles nobody wants.
January 16, 2020 @ 11:08pm
The Car Pro
Right on. Same thing I've been saying. If you don't upgrade models, they die. I've said on air many times Honda and Toyota continue to improve cars and they continue to grab market share. Even Corolla and Civic sales are up, in a down car market because they try.
If you get that job at Ford, I'll be your biggest fan. You CLEARLY don't need any car experience based on what Ford has for a CEO now.
January 15, 2020 @ 6:56pm
Hi Jerry - i completely agree with your assessment of Ford's decision not to offer cars in their lineup. I have been a loyal Ford customer all my driving life (almost 50 years). I don't know where I will turn when I need to replace my Focus, but it won't be Ford.
January 11, 2020 @ 9:19am
Once Upon A Ford
My wife owned her 1986 Taurus for 19 years when we stopped into the local Ford dealership to check out the new ones. Discontinued. Wonder what exec got a Huge bonus for that decision. She bought an '05 Camry. Couple (few/some # of) years later there it was back in the Ford lineup. Wonder what exec got a Huge bonus for that decision. Hope that Ford is not holding their breath for my wife to stop in at any Ford dealership in their lifetime. Just sayin'.