Mark Fields is Ford’s President of the Americas. Fields gave a scrum recently in Dearborn, MI.
The journalists were gathered for a briefing on Ford’s new technology that is going in Ford cars syncing app links to the vehicle. Secretary Ray LaHood has questioned the need for technology in cars. Ford’s job is to provide customers with the vehicles that are safe, comfortable and convenient for them. LaHood’s job is to make sure all drivers on the road are safe. How does Ford talk to LaHood about technology in the car?
In the scrum Fields said that Ford “more than tripled their capacity for electric vehicles” (in between hybrids and electric vehicles) and in doing so decided to nix the seven-seat C-Max minivan gasoline version. Available now will be the electrified five-seat C-Max. Fields says it was a conscious decision, that by listening to their customers preferences they decided not to ramp up capacity but to stay with the electrified versions.
Bernie Woodall from Reuters asked Fields about moving production of the Ford Transit Connect to the United States. Fields nixed that idea, saying the Transit production would stay in Europe.
Consumer Reports downgraded Ford’s quality, because of innovation and technology in the car, and Fields was asked about it. Fields didn’t say that Consumer Reports was not the holy bible of quality, but he did say that Ford “took input from all their customers (not just the ones that were members of Consumer Reports – ouch to CR!) and that they had their own quality assistance call center and that they listened to the feedback from their dealers.
He had to admit that the quality calls had gone “off-track”, but now they were back on track, after making improvements around MyFordtouch and a few of the powertrains.
Fields said that they have listened to their customers and that the customers like the innovation and technology in Ford cars.
Let me just put it this way, I’m also skeptical of all the technology in cars. But,
1. When I see what Ford is implementing it is kind of neat.
2. When I get behind the wheel of my car and my blackberry buzzes, or rings, I have to stop myself.
3. I still see people on their cell phones and texting in the car.
I’m not sure LaHood and the Congress drive to work, but you do, so you draw your own conclusions – Ford has.
Any thoughts on bringing the KA to America? The KA is a European A-segment car that could compete against the Fiat 500.
Fields says that they are happy with the Fiesta and Focus sales. In May Ford’s small car share of the market was about eleven percent of the market, the highest it’s been since 2002! And the Fiesta best selling region is in California, so Ford is doubly happy. Fields gave the perfunctory we’re watching our competitors as well answer.
And when Fields was asked about June sales it was hard for him to keep the cheshire grin off his face, “I think you’ll see sales as good as May, if not a little better, retail sales will be up”.
Lincoln as well? “Actually, the last couple of months our marketshare for Lincoln has been up”. That didn’t answer whether they would be up in June, though. Time will tell.