Friday, February 27, 2009

The Amazing Ford

Here and abroad, car companies are on their knees, begging for assistance from government so they can stay in business.

Ford? They cut their sales estimates again today, and still they say, "Nah. Thanks anyway. We'll pass".

Ford's new industry sales forecast matches the worst-case scenario the automaker outlined in a restructuring plan it submitted to Congress last fall. At the time, Ford said that if sales fell to that level, it could need up to $13 billion from Washington. However, Ford said Thursday that it can withstand an even steeper drop -- to 9.2 million cars and trucks -- without needing federal aid.

"Our position on government loans hasn't changed at all," said Ford spokesman Mark Truby, noting that Congress had asked the company to state how much additional funding it might need in each scenario. "That doesn't mean we would ask the government for that. We have no plans to ask for a bridge loan."

Not only that, but they will be re-opening the Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 this spring to produce the EcoBoost engine, putting 250 people back to work.

The Cleveland factory, which opened in 1951, was idled in 2007 -- three years after Ford invested $200 million to transform it into a flexible manufacturing facility. That flexibility has allowed the company to produce the new engine there with an investment of $55 million.

EcoBoost combines turbo-charging and direct fuel-injection to deliver more power from a smaller engine. It will be offered in the Lincoln MKS sedan, MKT crossover, Ford Flex crossover and Taurus SHO sport sedan this year, and is expected to be available in 90 percent of the company's lineup by 2013.

Plant manager Jan Allman states, "We're delivering good news in the middle of this industry turmoil." Yes, you are. Quite amazing news. Ford apparently borrowed the right amount of money at just the right time, and has managed it well. Stroke of genius or pure dumb luck, whichever it is- kudos to them.