Ford Hits a Ditch

Recent plans to improve performance at Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) have been met with a good deal of skepticism. That is because so many have gone off track. Executive Chair Bill Ford must have become impatient. This year was supposed to be the one that showed how Ford could march forward and beat the competition in areas like electric vehicle (EV) sales and progress. The result of the stumbles is that Ford’s stock is down 25% in the past month. That is a much greater slide than the S&P 500 and much more than crosstown rival General Motors.

Jim Farley, Ford’s relatively new chief executive, made a strange comment recently. He said Ford was not responsible for its condition, but its suppliers were. He told Yahoo! News, “I have stopped forecasting. I mean, bottom line is we think it’s going to happen continuing in the foreseeable future. I think we’re very good at dealing with these now.” Presumably, that is why Ford, very late into this quarter, discovered its expenses were $1 billion more than expected, and it did not anticipate running out of the blue badges that show consumers that a Ford is a Ford.

Another supply chain issue Farley did not anticipate was the cost of components for EV engines. He missed the number so much that he had to raise the prices of the Mustang Mach-E and the Ford F-150 Lightning. Ford has had to stop orders for the electric pickup because it does not have enough of them. And Ford suddenly raised the prices of the two vehicles by thousands of dollars, another announcement made without warning.

Although other large car companies, and Tesla, have said they have supply change problems, they have not made specific accusations about poor execution at their sources. They understated they have at least a hand in the debacles and how they managed them. GM CEO Mary Barra has not framed her problem as entirely one of her suppliers. She takes very little time coming up with excuses that she repeatedly repeats to the public and investors.

Ford’s problem has gone beyond the details of why it is not doing well to a concern that Farley is not the right person to handle it.

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