Monday, July 17, 2006

More speculation on Ford and a Global Partner at AutoBlog

The idea that keeps getting kicked around is Ford seeking a partnership like the possible GM/Renault-Nissan alliance. And comments made by Bill Ford Jr in a NYT interview keeps some people hoping.

Now I'm not convinced that Ford needs a global partner, but I'm willing to speculate like everyone else. Who would make a good global partner for Ford? Well, let's see who they're already working with around the globe, not who they own or control but who they're sharing technologies with. Ford is already working with PSA the French parent company of Peugeot and Citreon building Diesel powerplants for both company's brands. Ford is sharing platform and technology with FIAT as we speak. They share suppliers like Aisin with Toyota and others, for their Hybrid system's transmission. Ford has cooperated on shared platforms with Nissan in the past.

But what company could be a propper fit for an alliance/merger?
Vokswagen is out, they're having problems of their own, and Porsche is said to be taking more of a share in their larger partner. BMW? I don't think so, BMW would realize no real benefit from any such deal. Mercedes is already merged with Chrysler. Audi? See VW since they're the same company.

Maybe an Asian company? Well, I don't know, Ford already owns a controlling share of Mazda and it's been a profitable partnership for both. But if Ford were to have another Asian alliance, would it strain that relationship? Nissan is already spoken for. Mitsubishi? No, they're having problems of their own, and have nothing to offer FoMoCo.
Let's just cut to the chase on Asia/Japan the only major players worth looking at are Toyota and Honda.

Toyota competes too closely with Ford on trucks and Hybrids, and gains nothing from a merger.

Honda? Well, other than trucks what does Ford have that Honda would want? And as for trucks, they've been doing well enough with their Pseudo-Truck the Ridgeline and don't seem very interested in entering the traditional pickup market. Honda has very sucessful Hybrid models and gains nothing from such an alliance. Not in my humble opinion.

So who would be a fit for Ford? Aside from Nissan/Renault?

As I see it, Ford is better concentrating on their recovery plan, and bringing updated, more relivant models to the market. Ford needs to stay the course with some their promises, like the Hybrid production that they have backed off recently. Ford turns a profit overseas, they just need to get their North American unit back on track and quickly. They've got the partnerships they need already with Mazda and PSA. Maybe sell off Jaguar and Aston Martin, keep Volvo and Range Rover, and don't upset Mazda. Ford has the pieces of the puzzle if they can only assemble them in time. Diesels, Hybrids, some of their smaller Euro platforms and a new rear wheel drive replacement for Panther siblings. Learn to diversify away from dependance on trucks and SUVs, while keeping these fresh.

What do you think?

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