Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ford to cut up to 30,000 jobs over 5 years.

Bidness: Ford is looking to be aggressive in trying to right the company, the problem I see looking at the plans so far is the same ole same ole. Cut workers, plants, costs, and go after the youth market. The only thing I think could be a quick turnaround is the idea by Jim Hall about bringing over some international brands that Ford could market as some sort of hip Euro-chic must have.

DEARBORN-- Ford Motor Co. executives will present a restructuring plan to the company's board of directors today that calls for closing at least 10 assembly and component plants and eliminating 25,000 to 30,000 hourly jobs in North America within five years, according to people familiar with the plan. The cuts would be deeper than many had expected, signaling the urgency of Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr.'s push to restore the automaker's ailing North American operations. Bill Ford has promised the impending moves, expected to be announced Jan. 23, will affect all levels of the company. As such, the automaker will announce the departure of as many as seven top executives in the coming weeks, according to the people familiar with the plan. The broad outlines of Ford's plan -- dubbed the "way forward" -- were approved by directors at an off-site meeting in October with top executives in South Carolina. ....On Jan. 4, Fields is likely to outline Ford's new brand strategy in his keynote address at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. While the details are still being worked out, Fields is expected to outline a comprehensive strategy to attract young buyers to the Ford brand. "Ford definitely needs a youth strategy," said Jim Sanfilippo, an analyst with AMCI Inc. in Detroit. "Ford can't continue to operate without more volume at the low end of the market." While Ford once had a solid hold on the bottom of the market with vehicles like the Fiesta and Escort, that grip has been broken in recent years as competitors have rolled out more targeted products. Toyota Motor Corp. has led the charge with its new Scion brand. Jim Hall, an analyst with AutoPacific in Southfield, said Ford has several interesting international designs that could appeal to younger buyers in its home market, but most do not meet U.S. safety standards. "There's nothing that's an easy pull off the shelf," Hall said. "Expediency will be difficult." Ford may unveil a youth-oriented concept car at the Detroit auto show, but that will take some time to develop into a production vehicle. "There are some products that would fit with a youth strategy that Ford has in its pipeline," said Michael Robinet, an analyst with CSM Worldwide in Farmington Hills. In the meantime, Ford will likely use new marketing strategies and trim lines to draw younger buyers to its existing products.

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