Ford may cut lineup to as few as 20 nameplates, Mulally says
Mulally: “It was absolutely clear that we had to simplify Ford dramatically."
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“There will be less than 30, on our way to 20 to 25,” Mulally said in response to questions on the future lineup of nameplates after addressing the Confederation of British Industry in London. “Fewer brands means you can put more focus into improving the quality of engineering.”
Ford offered 97 nameplates when Mulally became CEO of the company in 2006. The lineup has since been reduced by terminating some products and selling luxury brands Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin.
“It was absolutely clear that we had to simplify Ford dramatically,” said the CEO, who is in Europe prior to visiting the Paris auto show later this week.
Ford also has simplified component specifications for each product, so that the Fiesta model, which has about 10 variants worldwide, now has about 65 percent of its parts as standard.
“It helps all of our distribution, Ford store owners, suppliers, employees and consumers to know exactly what they're getting,” Mulally said.
As part of his push to cut the number of brands and nameplates, Mulally has dismantled the luxury Premier Automotive Group formed by CEO Jacques Nasser in 1999 and embraced by Bill Ford after he took over the top post.
Mulally, who joined Ford from planemaker Boeing Co., completed the sale of Sweden's Volvo Cars to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. of China for $1.3 billion last month, having sold the Jaguar Land Rover unit to Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd. in 2008 and disposed of Aston Martin a year earlier.
Ford is also discontinuing the mid-level Mercury line in North America and intends to put more resources into its upscale Lincoln brand.
Mulally said Ford's sales prospects depend largely on economic recovery following the termination of government cash-for-clunkers programs that spurred demand last year.
“The key thing now is to keep the economy going,” said Mulally, who turned 65 last month. “All the fundamentals say that we are moving in the right direction.”
Prospects for expansion are bolstered by the Asian market, which is “just a phenomenal growth engine right now,” he said.
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