DETROIT -- The marketplace's shift away from full-sized pickups is driving Ford Motor Co.'s Way Forward restructuring plan back to the garage for a six-month tuneup.
Ford executives say they anticipated a number of the factors -- higher gasoline prices, lower SUV sales -- that have complicated 2006 results. But they now say they didn't realize back in January just how severe those problems would get.
Most important, Ford didn't count on any kind of a hit to its large pickups, the automaker's biggest profit generator. In April at the New York auto show, Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, even boasted that Ford once again would sell more than 900,000 units of the F series in the United States in 2006.
Barely three months later, company leaders are backing away from that pledge.
"I think 900,000 F series would be a real stretch, quite honestly, given where we are today and where the market was in the second quarter," Ford CFO Don Leclair said in an interview last week.
U.S. sales of full-sized pickups have dropped almost 10 percent during the first half of this year. F-series sales declined 1.9 percent during the same period and fell 9.7 percent in June.
Many buyers -- particularly business users stung by the spike in gasoline prices and higher operating costs -- are avoiding full-sized pickups. Some personal-use buyers are giving up their pickups altogether.
The segment's share of industry sales plummeted to 12.8 percent in the second quarter, its lowest quarterly mark in more than three years.