Ford Motor Co. saw its market share in the United States drop by 1.4 points in the first quarter of 2012 and admitted that its executives underestimated US demand, resulting to supply shortage, according to Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas. The company, however, has learned its lessons and is now working to solve the supply problem.
Ford is adding shifts and is shortening summer shutdowns. Ford is preparing to produce more cars at a site it shares with Japanese carmaker Mazda Motor Corp. The company is also planning to speed up the line at a plant that is already operating on three shifts. Fields told Automotive News that the market “got a little bit ahead of [them]."
Fields said that those production moves and capacity increases will occur in the second half of 2012. But those changes may just help Ford a little to recover its lost market share, as the company officials have changed their guidance on market share.
In a first-quarter analysts' call, Ford officials said the company will lose share this year, rather than hold steady as previously forecasted. Despite the forecast change, Fields believes the company could eventually regain its market share with its strong lineup and with the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion and Escape at the frontline.
Fields is making sure that even if production capacity is increased, Ford still has factory flexibility to be able to respond to shifts in consumer demand.
Part of the company’s plans is to reintroduce three shifts at its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant to produce the 2013 Fusion later this year. According to the plan, the Hermosillo plant will produce all five Fusion powertrain configurations -- three gasoline engines, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The plant currently builds the Lincoln MKZ sedan.
Also part of the plan is to add a second shift and start building the 2013 Fusion at the AutoAlliance International Inc. site in Flat Rock, Mich. in mid-2013. According to Fields, the site, which Mazda co-owns, will produce the gasoline-engine versions of the Fusion on the line where the Mazda6 sedan is being assembled.