DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. would like the U.S. government to sponsor an automotive stimulus program to help the industry get back on its feet after the coronavirus crisis abates.
“We think some level of stimulus somewhere on the other side of this would help not only the auto industry and our dealers, which are a huge part of our overall economy, but will help the customers as well,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a phone interview. “We’re in discussions about what would be the most appropriate.”
Those discussions are internal at Ford for now, but are eventually expected to involve the government, LaNeve said. One model being considered is the government’s “cash for clunkers” program of more than a decade ago, which helped stimulate auto sales following the global financial crisis by encouraging drivers to turn in older cars in exchange for money toward buying new ones.
“Cash for clunkers was very effective at that time,” LaNeve said. “It would be nice to think we could have something equally as effective for 2020 when we get out of this because it was a great program.”
In a statement to Automotive News, Ford spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said: "The auto industry is America’s economic engine.We are encouraging Congress to look at a variety of ways to drive job creation, increase demand, support customers and provide long-term stability for the entire auto ecosystem."
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., told Automotive News Thursday that Congress is focused on the entire automotive ecosystem and any additional assistance may be something “short term, midterm or long term,” depending on the needs of that ecosystem.
“Cash for Clunkers is a title and a program that worked in the past, and we’ve got to see where we are when we go back to work, with input from everybody — the OEMs, the suppliers, the dealers, the consumer, the UAW, the workers,” she said.
Ford reported a 12% drop in first quarter U.S. sales on Thursday. Automakers sold cars and light trucks in March at the slowest pace since 2010, and analysts expect worse results for April.
Audrey LaForest of Automotive News contributed to this report.