Bitter lesson was costly
The dot-coms and other outsiders that fomented the retail revolution brought changes to the industry. But traditional dealers triumphed, and Ford had to admit it needed its conventional dealer network to bring its vehicles to market.
Soon after becoming CEO in 2001, Bill Ford admitted that the company had wandered "too far away" from its core business. "You can't rebuild the business if you don't have strong partnerships," Ford wrote in a memo to the company's dealers.
In 2000, Ford scored worst in dealer input among 34 makes in the National Automobile Dealers Association's annual dealer attitude survey. Mercury and Lincoln had the second- and third-worst scores.