Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ford -- Their own fault

While watching coverage of work shutdowns at local Ford plants one worker summed up the situation perfectly. He said that Ford has relied too much on gas guzzling SUVs and Trucks at the expense of developing smaller and more fuel efficient money makers.

I've read that domestic car companies make little if any money on the small car segment. Indeed, the competition is brutal, with Toyota, Honda, and Nissan putting out nice small and midsize cars that are relatively cheap and reliable. Ford's Focus was introduced to great reviews, but Ford's bad habit of keeping the same sheet metal on cars year after year (Taurus anyone?) without a major redesign makes them look dated. Oddly Ford's Mazda has some very sharp looking cars that look fresh year after year.

While it is easy to blame unions and gas prices for domestic automaker's woes, the reality goes much deeper. Domestic models are still not as reliable as their foreign counterparts, their exteriors are often uninspired and their interiors often look, feel, and are cheap. Technology that comes standard on foreign models is optional or non-existant on domestic models. Heck, even something as simple as an interior opening fuel door is tough to find on domestic models.

While I hope Ford recovers, I don't think they'll do it by praying for a miracle or keeping their extensive model lines intact. And I certainly hope things work out for the people they employ and support.

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