Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) means to be the king of several car categories. This means it will need to crush some huge competitors. It is not the first time new CEO Jim Hackett has forecast a future he cannot know, and not the first time he has opened the door to disappoint investors. Hackett may want to show Wall Street that he can make a dent in Ford’s near-term future before he makes comments about what Ford may become.
Investors are already skeptical about Hackett’s plans. The company’s stock is off 13% in the past year and 12% in the past three months. During the 12-month period, Toyota’s shares have risen 15% and GM’s are up 2%.
Hackett and his senior management laid out plans for Ford that include an “onslaught” of connected new trucks, sport utility vehicles and hybrids. This, Ford management says, will give it the “freshest” line up of vehicles sold in the United States by 2020. The comment:
Ford brand targeting North America’s freshest lineup among full-line makers by 2020, replacing more than 75 percent of its current portfolio and adding four new trucks and SUVs.
Hackett must have been given the product release plans of all his competitors.
The new SUVs, connected vehicles, upgrades to cars made over-the-air hookups, a new Transportation Mobility Cloud (which is ill-defined), new driver assist technology and hybrids are the keys to Ford’s future. As a group, the features are so powerful that, according to Hackett:
Our passion for great vehicles is stronger than ever. This showroom transformation will thrill customers, drive profitable growth and further build toward our future of smart vehicles in a smart world.
Thrilling customers will be a challenge. Ford recently posted mediocre results in the J.D. Power 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study and the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Customer Service Index Study. Ford also received mediocre scores in the Consumer Reports Annual Brand Survey of cars and light trucks.
Hackett has a series of problems to face this year. Ford’s 2018 U.S. sales through the first two months are off 6.6% to 353,773. That performance is below those of GM and Toyota.
In the car industry, 2020 is a long time away. Based on Ford’s current performance, Hackett has a long way to go to get there successfully.