AutoWeek reports that Ford has delayed the shipment of its newest vehicles—the 2005 Ford Five Hundred sedan, Freestyle sport wagon and Mercury Montego sedan—to dealerships.
Ford COO Jim Padilla would not specify last week why Ford is holding on to the vehicles. “When it’s ready, we will ship it,” Padilla said. “And we are very damn close.”
Sales are still planned for September, though volume sales are not expected until October, after dealers build inventory and advertising begins.
To date, the company has built 3,627 Five Hundreds, 2,316 Freestyles and 915 Montegos.
Sources say they are not aware of major quality problems. One source said Ford is just being extra careful.
Ford Division car sales plunged to 45,298 in August, apparently the division’s lowest monthly car sales total since the build-up days following World War II. Ford has fallen to fourth place in car sales for the year to date behind Chevrolet, Toyota and Honda.
It is sounding a bit grim. This is supposed to be the Year of the Car at Ford, but apparently not yet. The delivery of the new standard vehicles may perk things up a bit, as should the Escape Hybrid. But Ford in the US needs better marketing focus and definition in addition to banging out new products.
I’d argue, of course, that the focus should be green. It certainly now has some credentials in that area with the Escape hybrid, and it would map to Bill Ford’s basic inclinations, despite the company’s being tarred with the worst fuel economy of any fleet.
When a product or a division is failing, one has a greater opportunity to gamble on reinventing it to save it. At a certain point, what’s to lose? Unfortunately, from its internal perspective, certainly, Ford is not there yet.