Ford's Business plan submission



Ford Motor Company this morning submitted to Congress its comprehensive business plan, which details the company’s plan to return to profitability and outlines a request for potential access to a temporary bridge loan in case the current economic crisis worsens or there is a bankruptcy of a major competitor.

In the plan, Ford said the transformation of its North American automotive business will continue to accelerate through aggressive restructuring actions and the introduction of more high-quality, safe and fuel-efficient vehicles – including a broader range of hybrid-electric vehicles and the introduction of advanced plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles.

Ford is asking for access to up to $9 billion in bridge financing, but reiterated that it hopes to complete its transformation without accessing the loan should Congress agree to make the funds available.

Despite the serious global economic downturn, Ford said it does not anticipate a liquidity crisis in 2009 – barring a bankruptcy by one of its domestic competitors or a more severe economic downturn that would further cripple automotive sales and create additional cash challenges.

Comment: Link below is full PDF (33 pages). Interesting comments on the economy.



The forward economic outlook is also negative, with a wide range of possible outcomes due to the uncertain financial market environment. Real GDP is projected to decline significantly in the current quarter, as much as 4% or more as compared to the prior quarter (at an annualized rate). Consumer confidence is the weakest since the early 1980s, with nearly three in four consumers expecting the recession to deepen in the months ahead, according to the recent Survey of Consumers report released by Reuters/University of Michigan.

The economy is projected to contract through the first half of 2009, with a peakto-trough decline in real GDP in the 2.0% to 2.5% range. The housing sector decline, as measured by housing starts and sales, is expected to weaken somewhat from already low levels.

Spending by consumers has already fallen at an annual rate of nearly 4% in the third quarter (as compared to the second quarter). A further contraction in consumer spending is underway in the current quarter, with an additional step down likely in the first quarter of 2009. Consumers are weighing likely further employment declines and responding by increasing their saving rates and pulling back on purchases, especially of durable goods such as automobiles.

The financial crisis, now 16 months old, persists. Despite the actions taken by the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve (and other governmental institutions around the world), there is no near-term end in sight.

... we are acutely aware that our supply base, our labor structure, and our dealer network, among other factors, are sized for an industry and a market share that the domestic companies can no longer support.

there are other important policies that will help enhance the industry’s global competitiveness. First, Ford was proud to support stronger CAFE standards, and we are absolutely committed to meeting them. However, we urge Congress to maintain one economy-wide set of national standards on fuel economy. A patchwork of standards would place enormous financial and engineering burdens on manufacturers and have the effect of reducing consumer choice -- all for little or no environmental benefit.

Throughout the 1990s and into this decade, we became increasingly dependent in the U.S. market on trucks and large SUVs, which were in heavy demand by consumers and generated large profits. Many of our competitors, both foreign and domestic, likewise followed market demand and added more truck and SUV products to their lineups. Our focus on these vehicles, however, left us exposed in the event of a market shift to smaller, more fuelefficient vehicles. In anticipation of such a shift, and inspired by the compelling vision outlined by our Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, we began to refocus our portfolio earlier in this decade, introducing a new line of mid-size cars (the Fusion, Milan, and MKZ) as well as the first hybrid sport utility (the Ford Escape -- still the most fuel efficient sport utility available with an EPA city mileage rating of 34 miles per gallon). When fuel prices shot up rapidly earlier this year, the shift occurred much more quickly and was much more pronounced than we or anyone else in the industry anticipated.

In addition, we had, over a period of many years, created a labor structure that was uncompetitive with the foreign-owned transplant operations that had been established in the United States. And, we made small cars in the United States largely because of a requirement to meet federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

Comment: A worthwhile read.

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