DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is getting religion about American consumers' lack of appetite for trucks.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally now believes U.S. truck sales are in rapid and permanent decline. That means small and mid-sized vehicles — both cars and crossovers — ultimately will dominate the U.S. industry and Ford's lineup. Last week's sweeping production cuts torpedoed the automaker's long-promised plan to return to profitability in 2009.
"It appears to us that fuel prices are not going to come down," Mulally said last Thursday. "You just cannot make cars that people don't want."
The pullback came just four weeks after Ford announced a surprise $100 million first-quarter profit amid glowing media reports about the automaker's turnaround. But Ford soon found that consumers wanted dramatically fewer pickup trucks and SUVs as gasoline prices topped $3.50 a gallon.