Like the competition, Ford Motor Company is devoting time and energy to ensure it’s healthy enough to thrive in an industry currently undergoing a sales slump. To outline for investors how Ford is preparing to meet these obstacles, company President and CEO Jim Hackett held his first strategic update session, where he spelled out the automaker’s future plans in some detail.
Ford is in the midst of a “fitness push” that will see it pursue new cost-cutting avenues in the pursuit of an 8-percent operating margin on its traditional core business. The automaker wants to reduce automotive cost growth by 50 percent through 2022, targeting $10 billion in material cost reductions, and an additional $4 billion in engineering cost reductions over the next five years by increasing parts-sharing between products, reducing ordering complexity, and cutting down on the number of new-vehicle prototypes.
As a matter of fact, Ford says it’s identified a ten-fold reduction of orderable configurations for the next-generation Escape crossover, and plans to move from today’s 35,000 different Ford Fusion configurations to just 96 when the next iteration arrives.
Product development is undergoing some changes, as well, as Ford incorporates new tools and technologies like “virtual assembly lines” – something that’s already enabled Ford to cut new model changeover time by 25 percent. Scaling 3D printing, robotics, virtual reality, and big data will all continue to contribute to raising manufacturing efficiency and cutting costs.
Ford’s planned steps to improve the fitness of its business, in conjunction with the strides the company is taking in the mobility space, bode well for its future as US sales continue to track downward.