Reasons Beyond The Stock Price That Ford Might Have Ousted Mark Fields

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Last week, Autoweek published a list of five factors beyond Ford’s steadily-declining stock price that might have prompted the automaker to ask for CEO Mark Fields’ resignation.

It’s an intriguing list. But to be honest, we rather feel that the first three items, which dealt with Ford’s lack of a US-market entrant in the subcompact CUV, mid-size truck, and BEV segments, could all fit neatly under the umbrella of item #5: Poor Preparation.

That single item is key. Ford won’t be ready to launch the EcoSport (subcompact crossover) in the US until later this year, and a new US-market Ranger (mid-size pickup) isn’t expected to go on sale until late next year. The Ford Focus Electric, a battery-electric compact car, has been selling at a rate of approximately one unit per millennium – probably because its embarrassingly short range of 76 miles leaves it uncompetitive in the segment. (The updated, 2017 model has a longer range of around 100 miles.)

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The automaker’s first serious contender in the BEV (battery-electric vehicle) space – a small electric crossover with a range of 300 miles or more – won’t be ready until 2020. As a reminder, the Chevrolet Bolt is on sale as we write this, in the year 2017.

So that’s three big, glaring holes in Ford’s US model lineup that won’t be filled for some time yet. Two of them – the subcompact CUV, and the mid-size truck – are segments that Ford had even filled already in other markets. On top of that, Autoweek‘s Wes Raynal writes that some analysts allege the automaker is guilty of continuing to “stubbornly” overproduce car models like the Fiesta and Fusion even while sales shifted more toward SUVs and crossovers.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford has indicated that the board felt the company wasn’t reacting quickly enough to changing currents in the industry. Clinging to declining car models would certainly be a prime example of that.

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As for Raynal’s final remaining point, that Ford’s communications strategy was faulty, we’re prone to agree. “Ford’s inability and/or unwillingness to communicate exactly what it intends to do is striking and has been a problem for years,” he writes. It’s likely the reason that, like CEO Mark Fields, Ford Vice President of Communications Ray Day also lost his job.

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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One Comment

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  1. The hole in the mid-sized truck lineup for Ford has always been a mystery for me. Some people just do not have room in the garage for the full-sized truck and just like driving something smaller.
    On the other side of the coin, Ford did an outstanding job on the new super duties and has what looks to be a class leading group of full sized SUV’s coming very soon.
    Regarding the new Ranger, I think it will be a failure as it is too big and too close in size to the full sized truck without enough margin to go to an aluminum body like the F-150.
    On the car side, drop any spending on NASCAR, which is nothing but a bad joke, having no resemblance to the current technology leaning forward.

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