Ford drafts cost-cutting plan, halts sedan sales in North America

The front grill of the 2014 Ford Fusion is displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Tuesday Jan. 15 2013

Last year, the company sacked its Chief Executive Officer and replaced him with Jim Hackett, a more practical cost-cutter known for taking hard decisions and chances that could turn the auto company around. In a reply to a comment on Twitter, Michael Martinez said the next-gen model was supposed to go into production mid-2020 as a 2021MY, but plans to develop a new one were scrapped in December previous year.

While scrapping several sedans continues to pay off for Fiat Chrysler - the Italian-American automaker nearly halved net industrial debt in the first quarter - the moves aren't without risk for Marchionne or Ford's Hackett. Revenue rose 7 percent to $41.96 billion. Crossovers and SUVs have quickly come to represent more than half of the total industry's US sales, while sedans and small cars have been sinking.

"We have looked at every single part of the business", Shanks said.

Ford made $1.74 billion from January through March, or 43 cents per share, compared with $1.59 billion, or 40 cents per share a year ago.

But now, one of the great engines of 20th Century American industry, Ford, will be doing something very different.

A factor that's been contributing to investor pessimism has been commodity costs, which Ford expects will be a $1.5 billion headwind this year.

Shanks wouldn't say if employees would be cut but said nothing is off the table.

Shanks said that rising costs for commodities, such as aluminum, steel and copper, were a almost $500-million drag on Ford's performance for the quarter.

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It's no secret Ford is now focusing on crossovers, SUVs, pickup trucks, and commercial vehicles to increase sales in North America.

Ford has hinted it might decide to retire much of its sedan portfolio.

"The company is also exploring new "white space" vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility", Ford said.

That means the end of the road for slow-selling sedans such as the Taurus, Fusion and Fiesta.

Which is the same place we'll be seeing more SUVs. "We're starting to understand what we need to do and are making clear decisions".

However, Advertising Age noted that analysts predicted the future of the Lincoln Continental and MKZ sedans remain in doubt because they share platforms with numerous Ford marques that are due to be scrapped.

"The hand-wringing that has been around in our business is gone", he said.

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