Ford Surrenders

When U.S. automakers (allegedly) hit the skids during the financial crisis of 2008-2010, U.S. taxpayers came to their rescue.  The Curmudgeon has no intention of tackling the question of whether this was a good idea or not; he’d have to do a lot of homework before giving Regis his final answer on that one.

Ford ponied up to the bar and took a $5.9 billion loan that the Congressional Research Service says saved 33,000 jobs.  Was that a good investment?  Two observations here:  first, again, The Curmudgeon doesn’t know enough to say; and second, Ford isn’t expected to finish repaying the loan for another four years, so for at least that part of the transaction the jury is still out.  At the time Ford borrowed the money, it said it needed it, in part, to retool its manufacturing plants to make more fuel-efficient cars.

But Ford recently announced that in the coming years it will stop making all but two models of passenger cars, the Mustang and the Focus, and focus instead, no pun intended, and on manufacturing trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.

So much for fuel-efficient cars.

Ford never really got over the idea that this is the car Americans want

In hindsight, Ford never had a chance.  Foreign companies, mostly Japanese, outclassed the folks at Ford in every way:  they designed better cars and they did a better job of building them. When we wanted smaller cars, they were ready with the cars we wanted while Ford took years to catch up. When we wanted better cars, more reliable cars, they were ready with the cars we wanted and Ford never caught up. Oh, you could still order your Ford in any color in the rainbow, but what you were ordering was a decidedly inferior car because Ford was more interested in selling you a car in the color you wanted than in selling you the car you wanted:  one that got good gas mileage and was reliable.

About ten years ago The Curmudgeon went on vacation to Florida and reserved a compact car for his six-day visit.  As has happened about 50 percent of the times The Curmudgeon has reserved a compact rental, when he reached the reservations desk the sales representative told him they were out of compacts and upgraded him to a mid-size:  the Ford Taurus. When The Curmudgeon found his car in the lot it was absolutely eerie:  the car was the same color as the Camry The Curmudgeon then owned, both the interior and the exterior.  He slid into the driver’s seat and felt right at home.

But before The Curmudgeon even left the mile or so access road leading into and out of Tampa International Airport – spring training! – he could feel, without question even for a non-car guy like himself – how totally inferior this Taurus was, in every way, to his Camry.

So in the end, Ford realized it couldn’t compete and decided to give up even trying.  It’s probably for the best:  after 40 years of pretending to try and 30 or so of actually trying, it’s become abundantly clear that the folks who run and work for Ford simply aren’t up the challenge.  They just aren’t smart enough.

 

 

 

 

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