Ford profits soar as problems mountMon, 19 Aug 2013 16:01:00 EST
Ford is doing well. It can't make enough examples of its new Fusion, it can barely make enough of the aging F-150, it's getting good brand rankings, people like its turnaround story, it's selling oodles of product and its quarterly profit numbers end in the word "billion." As other high-flying examples have demonstrated over the past few years, though, big numbers can come with problems that aren't exactly small.
Automotive News has published a good "nutshell" report of Ford's progress and problems. The Dearborn automaker's optimistic "general label rule" determination of gas mileage for the C-Max Hybrid has led to lawsuits, hybrid software updates, a downward revision of C-Max fuel economy and millions in rebates. AN notes the C-Max was the "worst-scoring model in this year's J.D. Power Initial Quality Study," but Ford will probably be happy that it managed not to be mentioned further in the study's results after last year's mediocre showing. Its MyTouch and SYNC systems, the bugbears sabotaging Ford's J.D. Power results, have also led to lawsuits, software updates, more software updates and a center console rethink. On top of that, the 1.6-liter EcoBoost in the 2013 Ford Escape that Ford called a "hero" was soon catching fire for three different reasons. And let's not even get into the troubled launch of the Lincoln MKZ.
The Automotive News piece notes that industry observers have been surprised at Ford's stumbles because everything has been looking so good. Nevertheless, there is still the issue of those billions in profits – the company is doing plenty of things, plural, right. Ford says it is tackling its problems, hiring engineers and instituting new quality control processes as part of its effort to find solutions. The test will be to see if in a year from now we begin the discussion of these issues with "Remember when Ford...", or "Problems continue at The Blue Oval."
By Jonathon Ramsey
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