That could mean a modification to some of Ford's much-hyped new mobility initiatives. Prior to its shareholder meeting earlier this month, board members and shareholders questioned Ford's investment in mobility and autonomous vehicles, since it's likely to take years before the company sees a return on the billions it's pouring into those areas.
Under former CEO Mark Fields, Ford invested in shuttle service Chariot and Motivate, a San Francisco bicycle-sharing program. It also launched FordPass, a do-it-all mobility app that includes a physical brand experience center in the bustling World Trade Center Oculus.
Parts of Chariot's business are profitable, according to Barclays analyst Brian Johnson, but Ford has not commented on the bicycle business. It does not sell anything in its New York brand center, despite maintaining a 2,900-square-foot space alongside retailers such as John Varvatos, Apple and Hugo Boss.
"Maybe you don't have to be a player in all aspects of mobility, through bikes and everything else," Schuster said. "You could see Ford's broad definition of mobility being adjusted."
Virtually all of Ford's profits today come from its core business of selling cars and trucks. Analysts have suggested that as Ford has spent on new technologies, it's put product development on the back burner and let vehicle quality languish.
"It looked as though Fields left manufacturing and day-to-day product development decisions on cruise control," Dave Sullivan, analyst at AutoPacific, said last week. "Recalls and quality issues dragged down earnings while spending increased on new business ventures."
Earlier this year, the company said executives missed out on hundreds of thousands of bonus dollars because they failed to meet internal quality targets set by the board of directors.
"Quality is something we're always looking at," Bill Ford told Automotive News. "Recently, we've not been terribly happy with some of the rankings and reports that have come out. When we talk about sharpening operational excellence, that's a good example. We have a lot to do, and some of it is in that area."
Product development could be on the table, too. Ford has promised five new SUVs by the end of the decade and 13 new electrified vehicles by 2021.
But it's entering several key markets, including compact crossovers and midsize trucks, years later than its competition. "They're looking to spread out and adjust their model-year life cycles, which may require some investment," Schuster said.