Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ford Motor Company Announces 2008 1st Quarter Profit

I never realized I was a harbinger of economic fortunes. Ford Motor Company reported a net income of $100 million, or five cents per share, in the first quarter of 2008. That’s lots different from the net loss of $282 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier. I wish we could afford to buy a new Ford but we are very happy with our old one.

Two years ago when we needed a new car, I blanched white when my wife suggested we look at a one-year old Ford Crown Victoria. I wondered if there was something strange in the water. Appearance-wise, the Ford Crown Victoria was the direct opposite of what we’d been driving. The Hondas we bought had been reliable and were even a little bit fun to drive. If I were going to buy a Ford, it would have to be something like the one in the photo above. The enduring Ford Mustang Shelby GT. The Ford Crown Vic looked like a police car. At my wife’s insistence, I began to do research and learned a great deal about the Ford product.

The Crown Vic was the choice of police departments because it was a safe vehicle and could take a hit. It was also the car least likely to flip when the cops practiced that spin move where you completely reverse direction 180 degrees.
The car was a rear-drive vehicle which represents a different handling mentality but I’d driven plenty of them and was familiar with ass-end steer. Besides, it has some advantages so long as there’s no snow on the ground.

Traction-control and snow tires make the car tractable and practical even in the snow. We have a four-wheel drive truck for when the snow gets really deep and we simply park the Ford and wait until the plow comes through our rural area.
The Ford Crown Vic, even in the civilian version, has a small 8 cylinder engine that puts out plenty of power on the highway. We jokingly refer to it as “the highway cruiser,” but that is a fit appellation. It’s annoying as a rally car but you can’t beat it on the straights where you get comfort, stability, power, reliability, and between 21 to 25mpg depending on how much you want to push it.

The car’s twin is the Mercury Marquis, built on the same platform. Whatever it is, you get Lexus quality at Ford prices. The car has been absolutely reliable and bullet-proof. Our biggest regret, upon buying the car, was hearing a year afterward that Ford would soon stop selling the civilian Crown Vic except as the twin Mercury Marquis. A limited number of Crown Vics would be produced as fleet cars. Too bad. I like the traditional blue oval much better than the medallion in front of the Mercury.

This seems a long introduction when my point is to tell you that Ford is a comeback fighter:

Ford is still a leader in the small trucks area with its F-x50 line in spite of the high gas prices. Tough and durable are basic requirements in construction work.
Ford is also doing well with a small SUV called the Edge. The Fusion sedan is selling well—it’s reliable, nimble, clean, and gets great numbers in the crash safety tests. The Focus is a good choice in the economy class. For a car of its size it also takes a good hit in the crash tests. The Focus takes advantage of a joint Microsoft-Ford development called Sync which appeals to the millenials who are big on tunes. It only makes sense to operate your booming audio system by issuing voice commands. Focus sales are up 23% this year. I know what you’re thinking: “Whatever!...”

A permanent Ford strength is the legendary Mustang brought out in one version or another since 1964 ½ or 1965. There have been some anemic versions but the Mustangs always had pedigree going all the way back to the Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra of the sixties, a gas-pumping, flame-eating, street sweeping monster that could burn its wheels as if they were made of candle wax.

I think Ford is doing a good thing by getting back to its core business of producing Fords. Most likely, Ford will get rid of the yuppie high-priced and finicky Volvo brand. CEO Mulally, according to the Wall Street Journal, has already dumped Aston-Martin, Jaguar, and Land Rover.

No comments: