Ford currently sits amid a major product lull, a strategy partially employed by former CEO, Alan Mulally, who focused on a major overhaul of the F-150. The product drought shows no signs of lifting until 2019, per two sources familiar with the company’s plans. In the meantime, it has left Ford vulnerable to rivals, especially General Motors.
GM, which has seen a resurgence in recent years, plans for five new vehicle launches in 2018 and eight more in 2019. In comparison, Ford has two vehicles expected to launch in 2018 and possibly six in 2019. The investment in new vehicles can be traced back to Ford’s decision to borrow heavily during the global financial crisis last decade. While Ford avoided bankruptcy, it also has left the automaker with less capital. GM exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy nearly debt free.
“Ford needs to move faster,” said RBC auto analyst Joseph Spak.
Faster isn’t likely, though. Any product changes newly-minted CEO, Jim Hackett, were to make today likely wouldn’t show face until 2021 at the earliest, considering traditional development periods.
Add in the fact GM continues to pull larger profit margins per vehicle compared to Ford and the situation dims further; Ford made, on average, $2,891 per vehicle in 2016, while GM made $3,044 per vehicle.
“GM seems to be getting more for its money and realizing the results sooner,” said Joe Langley, an analyst with IHS Markit.
In the short run, Ford will have to fend off GM’s redesigned, full-size pickups expected to debut next year and continue missing out on the mid-size pickup market the reborn Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon ignited. Ford’s U.S. sales and marketing chief Mark LaNeve acknowledged the company had missed an opportunity by “not participating in” the mid-size pickup and compact crossover space.