As he delivered his first detailed vision for the company on Monday, Mark Fields, Ford’s new chief executive, stood between two of the company’s big gambles. To his right at the company’s Investor Day was a new, radically different version of the F150 pick-up truck, part of the F-Series pick-up range that some analysts calculate accounts for 90 per cent of the company’s net income. To his left was a Lincoln MKC, the latest model from the struggling luxury brand on which Mr Fields nevertheless promised to spend $2.5bn by the end of this decade.
If the various gambles inherent in the vehicles around Mr Fields pay off, Ford should be able to grow faster than the wider auto industry over the rest of this decade. It will significantly reduce its dependence on the core North American market and the Ford Credit financing arm. Those two together in recent years have produced more net income than the company as a whole – dragged down by some unprofitable segments – produced.
If the plans go wrong, however, Mr Fields faces more uncomfortable announcements like those that Ford was forced to make alongside its strategic announcements on Monday. The company said pre-tax profits for this year would be around $1.5bn less than previously projected – around $6bn, instead of the previously forecast $7bn to $8bn. The announcement sent the company’s shares tumbling nearly 8 per cent.