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From articles that I've read, Ford has ethanol and fuel cell vehicles test driving at various times, but the only plans I've heard from Ford is that they will introduce a plug-in vehicle in 2012.

Any info or bets on Ford's prognosis?
 

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From articles that I've read, Ford has ethanol and fuel cell vehicles test driving at various times, but the only plans I've heard from Ford is that they will introduce a plug-in vehicle in 2012.

Any info or bets on Ford's prognosis?
Apparently, Ford's current problem is that they haven't got the manufacturing cost on their hybrid system down to the point where it's reasonably inexpensive to build. This is holding them back. It's too bad, because the Escape hybrid (and the Escape, generally) is really a pretty good vehicle.

And Ford doesn't have the financial resources for a Volt-scale project.

It looks to me, and feel free to argue (like you need an invitation), that Mullaly's view is that "traditional" ICE vehicles will be the least expensive car to manufacture for a while, so Ford will build the best ones that it can, carefully managing the processes and costs, sell them at very reasonable prices for the traditional value of the car (seats, performance, comfort), gain market share and profitability with these vehicles and then move towards advanced tech.

I don't think I'd care to risk my money in Ford stock at this point but I do think Mullaly's strategy is going to work for Ford. If their financial position looked a bit better, I'd buy some of their stock but they could be hammered to death by any single external event, additional oil price shocks, a few more quarters of bad US economy, interest rate increases, raw material price spikes... pretty much anything could take them out in spite of good execution of what I think is probably their best plan, stick to the knitting, build good, affordable low-risk cars.
 

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Apparently, Ford's current problem is that they haven't got the manufacturing cost on their hybrid system down to the point where it's reasonably inexpensive to build. This is holding them back. It's too bad, because the Escape hybrid (and the Escape, generally) is really a pretty good vehicle.

And Ford doesn't have the financial resources for a Volt-scale project.

It looks to me, and feel free to argue (like you need an invitation), that Mullaly's view is that "traditional" ICE vehicles will be the least expensive car to manufacture for a while, so Ford will build the best ones that it can, carefully managing the processes and costs, sell them at very reasonable prices for the traditional value of the car (seats, performance, comfort), gain market share and profitability with these vehicles and then move towards advanced tech.

I don't think I'd care to risk my money in Ford stock at this point but I do think Mullaly's strategy is going to work for Ford. If their financial position looked a bit better, I'd buy some of their stock but they could be hammered to death by any single external event, additional oil price shocks, a few more quarters of bad US economy, interest rate increases, raw material price spikes... pretty much anything could take them out in spite of good execution of what I think is probably their best plan, stick to the knitting, build good, affordable low-risk cars.
If Ford continues to limp on the ICE crutch, they will fall. I posted an article today on this site that showed how much sales of the Honda Civic has gone through the roof compared to last year. The Japanese have cost reduced the ICE vehicle more than any American automaker will ever hope to, so Ford will lose to them without much of a fight.

Ford MUST launch a Volt scale development effort by any means necessary, or they won't be here in a decade.
 

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If Ford continues to limp on the ICE crutch, they will fall. I posted an article today on this site that showed how much sales of the Honda Civic has gone through the roof compared to last year. The Japanese have cost reduced the ICE vehicle more than any American automaker will ever hope to, so Ford will lose to them without much of a fight.

Ford MUST launch a Volt scale development effort by any means necessary, or they won't be here in a decade.
Ford can't afford that. Ford must execute a plan that fits within their resources.

Long-term, we'll be doing lots and lots more alternative vehicles. But that will take a long time. A very long time.

Remember Lutz said 10K Volts inthe first year? Many people presume that means 2010, when GM says they'll first deliver it. I offer you an alternative view of Lutz' remarks... 10K Volts in its first twelve months. That's a year, too.

Henderson was asked, yesterday, "how much production did the Board approve?" He wouldn't answer with specifics but he did describe a picture of very gradual increases in production, focussed on trying to bring the cost down in the first two years with incremental improvements to the vehicle and process. If you are thinking that's a warning sign that the early Volts will be very costly to produce, then you are thinking what I'm thinking. Under such circumstances, it has lately been GM's practice to... not build very many vehicles.

I think it unlikely the Volt will reach 100K/year in a big hurry.

Ford, like GM, is already way behind Toyota. It really doesn't matter if Ford gets into the arena in 2012 or 2013 or even 2014, they'll be way behind whenever they do it.

And the Volt is not gas-free. To get there... Look at a few of the hurdles:
- Hydrogen? No "filling" stations and no production facilities.
- Electric? Still range-constrained. Battery tech improves only slowly. The 400-mile EV battery is not on the horizon.
- No coherent marketing plan for off-peak charge pricing.
- No infrastructure for daytime charging.
- No infrastructure for rapid charging.

The near-term strategy of winning in the conventional arena is a good one. Many, many, many people aren't going to look very far past the purchase price and if Ford offers a conventional car in each class with very good fuel economy (Ford is introducing Eco-Boost engines to help address that), good looks and good reliability, there will be buyers for it.

Oil is not suddenly going away, it's just going to get more expensive. If Ford can deliver good transportation value, they should be able to hang on until they have the resources to do a proper job with an EV.
 

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If it's possible to pull it off Mullaly is the right man for the job. Ford is in great hands right now. I'm not worried about them, even if they have to go into bankruptcy for a few years for protection from creditors.

I predict that Ford will be the first (or one of the first) major auto manufactures to embrace the light car, great aerodynamic paradigm. Ford might be the first with a high volume, carbon fiber (or other new technology) car body in production. Mullaly knows exactly what needs to be done in that sense. I'm sure his pet project is well underway. Might be a bit slow because of financial pressures but if there is only one advanced project being funded... It will be that one. Bank on it.
 

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Ford's Future

Oil is not suddenly going away, it's just going to get more expensive. If Ford can deliver good transportation value, they should be able to hang on until they have the resources to do a proper job with an EV.
Oil may not go away but if it stays at $4/gallon, Ford will be hurting. You can keep cutting and cutting but sooner or later you go from cutting fat to cutting muscle. Credit markets, expensive gas and shifting product mix will result in 2-3 bad years.

If the dollar stays devalued, foreign car manufacturers will look to expand quickly in North America. What better than a lame, broke car company with existing capacity? Then the question becomes, how much of the current brand and product remains.
 

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I think you will continue to see Ford being tight-lipped about any future developement of product vehicles, as part of the internal change about releasing vehicle information closer to launch. Thats about all I can say.

What I can say though, is that until price comes down into the 20-30k range, where the current Prius is retailed at we wont see market penetration in the 10-20% range. HEVs have only penetrated less than 1-3% of the U.S. light vehicle market, depending on how you calculate it.

What is publicly available though, is one can look at Ford sourcing larger percentages of vehicle materials from lightweight alloys and composite materials, use of turbochargers, offering smaller vehicles, aerodynamic improvements, diesel engines, advanced power steering.

In addition the press release on blueprint for meeting CAFE standards notes " Aggressive development will continue on plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology for future applications."
 
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