Industry Headlines

Ford Turned a Profit in Tumultuous 2009

January 29, 2010
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SANTA MONICA, CA - Today Ford Motor Co. reported a $2.7-billion profit for 2009, one of the worst years in decades for global vehicle sales and auto company profits. The automaker boldly declared it plans to be profitable for all of 2010.

In 2009, Ford gained market share for the first time since 1995 by posting sales only 15.6% lower than 2008, compared with the industry average drop of 21.2%.

In the last quarter of 2009, Ford vehicles took about 44 days to turn – that means it took about 44 days for a Ford vehicle to be sold after being delivered to a dealership. That was below the industry average of 48 and far below Ford’s average of about 92 days to turn in the first half of 2009.

Relatively brisk sales and tighter inventories have allowed Ford to lower costly incentives. Ford’s incentives in 2009 were only 19.2% above the industry average, whereas in 2008, Ford spent 29.7% above the industry average, according to’s True Cost of Incentives analysis.

As a result, Ford is discounting the price of its vehicles less. In December, Ford’s average discount was 14.4% off the sticker price, according to’s analysis; the industry average was 12.4% and Ford discounts had been running as high 20% in some months during the past year.

“The company is the first of the domestics to really turn around, perhaps because Ford started the process several years ago when its product pipeline was so clearly lacking compared to GM’s and Chrysler’s,” says Karl Brauer, editor in chief. “An automaker does not turn around on a single product; it turns around by introducing a string of successful products. Only a consistent level of quality and design excellence can change consumer perception and convert buyers from other brands, particularly in an atmosphere as competitive as today’s automotive market.”’s Brand Interest metric, which looks at customer consideration for new models over a four-week period, shows Ford rose to the number two spot as of January 24, moving ahead of Honda and Chevrolet, which were second and third in the previous four-week period.

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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