Drive Type: Automatic
Model: Model A
Southwest Iowa, United States
Analysts are saying that Ford Motor Company may have earned a record $2.7 billion pretax profit in North America during the first quarter of 2013, a number that represents its highest first quarter profit ever. The impressive earnings are further proof that the American automaker is making a solid comeback as the economy begins to recover.
Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase are estimating that Ford's first quarter North American profit may have topped 12 percent. The firm cited the automaker's fresh lineup, but noted that CEO Alan Mulally needs to uphold the pace as the company works to gain ground in the car and utility segments.
Ford's success has been led by increased demand for its F-Series pickup, the best-selling vehicle in the US for 31 years, and by the Fusion sedan that recently recorded its best-ever quarterly sales in the domestic market. Ford is expected to release its first-quarter revenue on Wednesday, of this week.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation into 2008 Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickups, which was originally opened last year, has now ended without a recall. NHTSA was looking into steering failures on some 336,000 trucks.
The issue rested with the steering gear - NHTSA received five complaints of failures - which was redesigned in 2005. According to the report on the matter, investigators "found evidence of broken sector shaft gear teeth and piston damage consistent with incidents of single event overload."
NHTSA investigators, however, "found no evidence of fatigue or material property defects in any of the fractures. Analysis of complaint rates by vehicle build month showed no patterns indicating potential manufacturing quality issues and no difference before and after Ford introduced design changes to the input shaft and sector shaft seals in July 2007 to address potential leak concerns," according to the report, obtained by The Detroit News.
While most of us believe that small, fuel efficient cars are the key to global expansion for US automakers, Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of Global Marketing, thinks otherwise. Last week, we attended an exclusive sneak preview of the Ford Edge Concept in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Farley told us that it's actually utility vehicles that will help the Blue Oval gain market share overseas. "There is no other segment in our industry that is growing like utilities," he said. "We expect over the next five years this full family of [utility] vehicles to really drive our growth as a company."
And Farley has the numbers to back it up, too. Ford projects overall automotive sales to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2017, but the company's utility vehicles are expected to boom by an impressive 41 percent during that same period. Much of that growth will be in China, where Ford estimates its utility sales will explode. "The biggest opportunity for us globally for utilities is in China," Farley said. "China utility growth is expected to more than double from where it is today to 2017, which isn't that far away." Most astounding is that Ford projects its own utility sales in China will eventually increase by more than 2,000 percent when smaller crossovers, such as the EcoSport and Kuga (sold as the Escape in North America), and the Edge and Explorer, are factored in.
Ford's VP also expects utilities to lead the way in the struggling European market. "With all the difficulties of the European market, there is one segment that has actually expanded in volume over the last several years even though the market is way down, and that's utilities," Farley told us. Ford estimates that their utility sales will grow 65 percent in Europe from 2012-2017. "The utility segment is projected to grow we think about thirty percent between now and 2017 in Europe, and we think we are going to grow twice that rate as a brand," Farley continued.