In a classic good news/bad news situation, Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally balanced the announcement of the firm's record $8.7 billion second-quarter loss with word of a comprehensive realignment in corporate operations. This accelerated transformation plan is destined to replace its long-time reliance on large pickups and SUVs with a host of new, greener and more fuel-efficient products, including the U.S. introduction of several high-mileage vehicles from its current and future European portfolios.
Key among the numerous changes that Ford plans to undertake will be the widespread implementation of its turbocharged/direct-injected EcoBoost gasoline engines starting in 2009. Ford data indicates that EcoBoost can help raise overall mileage by up to 15 percent while trimming CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and it intends to offer this technology on over 80 percent of its U.S. products by the end of 2012. More -- and more fuel-efficient -- four-cylinder engines along with new six-speed automatic transmissions are also in the works.
Mulally also confirmed that, in early 2010, a new version of the European Fiesta based on the Verve concept shown at last-year's Detroit Auto Show will be joining the American lineup. Several months later, a common-platform version of the next-gen Focus will go on sale here as well -- although both will be limited to four and five-door body styles for the U.S. A new small car for Mercury and a separate Euro-designed small vehicle that will slot into what Ford refers to as a currently unpopulated "whitespace segment" also are in the updated mileage-making product pipeline. Finally, Ford's Hybrid lineup is due for a boost early next year, when gas/electric versions of Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan to go on sale as 2010 models.
While large trucks and SUVs will no longer occupy center stage in Blue Oval land, they won't disappear entirely. However, the upcoming incarnations will reflect a new level of eco/econo orientation, starting with a revamped 2009 F-150 that will deliver seven percent better fuel economy and a 2010 Explorer that promises up to 20 percent better mileage using EcoBoost power.
Mulally stressed that the new "One Ford" strategy relies on leveraging its global personnel and engineering assets to develop more vehicles from fewer core platforms; an approach that offers reduced cost and enhanced economies of scale by increasing the number of shared components. "We are accelerating the development of the new products customers want and value," he said. "We sell some of the best vehicles in the world in our profitable European and Asian operations, and we will bring many of them to North America on top of our already aggressive product plans." To that end, Mulally indicated that all FoMoCo vehicles competing in any "global" segment will be common across all three primary markets within the next five years.