DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is undergoing wrenching production changes — fewer trucks, a lot more cars — to become a little bit more like Honda.
Last week, Ford announced plans to slash truck production while boosting output of the Ford Focus and Fusion, and also the Mercury Milan.
Asked whether Ford's model mix should be more like that of Toyota and Honda, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said: "Absolutely. We just don't have enough of those small or medium-sized vehicles yet, and that's what we need to concentrate on."
With its fuel-efficient vehicle lineup — and with gasoline prices edging toward $4 a gallon — Honda brand last month overtook Ford to become America's No. 3 brand in retail sales. Through April, here's the new pecking order: Toyota, Chevrolet, Honda, Ford.
Retail sales do not include sales to corporate fleet customers like Wal-Mart, or daily rental fleets like Hertz. According to Ford analyst George Pipas, retail sales account for 65 percent of Ford brand's total sales.
If so, the Ford brand's retail sales through April were approximately 421,000 units. Honda brand — which says it doesn't sell vehicles to fleets — sold 437,102 cars and trucks.
Ford isn't about to abandon trucks — not with a redesigned F-150 appearing this fall. And the Ford brand still leads the Honda brand in overall sales. Through April, the Ford brand sold 647,140 cars and light trucks, compared with Honda's 437,102.
But Honda has sales momentum, while Ford is in turnaround mode.