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 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Searching for new technologies, such as marketable electric vehicles, seeking ways to expand in Asian markets and focusing 25,000 dealer and company employees in California to serve customers even better are three of Ford's biggest challenges in the mid-1990s, said Alex Trotman, chairman-elect, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F).
 Trotman told the Comstock Club here that a Ford team of advanced research engineers is spending millions of dollars seeking ways to improve electric vehicle functions to make them more marketable. In the coming weeks, the team will be delivering to customers Ford Ecostar electric vans that will provide 2 million miles per year of actual on-road testing and evaluation.
 Ford will deliver the first of 105 electric vans next month to utility company fleets in seven U.S. cities -- including Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles in California.
 "We're proud of what our electric vehicle engineers have been able to accomplish, but right now we have two big obstacles, both related to the battery," Trotman said. "The first is high cost -- about $46,000 -- and the other is short range -- about 100 miles at normal urban speeds. That's like having a compact car with a three-gallon fuel tank."
 Among other challenges the Ford chairman-elect listed for the 1990s were participation in the growth markets of the Asia-Pacific region, and delivering superb service and customer satisfaction worldwide and in California through the efforts of 25,000 Ford Motor Company and Ford dealer employees.
 Trotman noted that Ford is the car market leader in Australia and Taiwan and the best-selling foreign nameplate in Japan.
 "Ford is the No. 2 automaker in the world," Trotman said. "But we won't remain No. 2 in the world if we don't participate actively in Asia where the greatest prospects for growth will occur."
 Trotman outlined steps Ford was taking to strengthen its competitive stance in the Japanese market including important right-hand-drive Ford cars such as the Ford Probe from the United States and Mondeo from Europe by mid-1994, taking steps to sell components to Japanese automakers and being the first foreign automaker to station a corporate officer in Japan.
 In North America, Ford is focusing on increasing customer loyalty as one way of improving its position in the market.
 "We believe that superb service is going to be the key battleground in the future for customer loyalty and repeat sales," Trotman said. "Customer satisfaction is not a slogan or a buzz word. It's a comprehensive program with specific objectives that are measured and evaluated regularly. Each dealer knows how well he or she is doing month by month."
 As part of that effort, Ford is counting on the strength of its dealers in California, Trotman said.
 In California, Ford has 299 Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers, with a combined employment of more than 20,000 people and sales of more than $6 billion. Ford also bought some $400 million from California suppliers in 1992. In addition to the automotive business, California is home to two Ford financial subsidiaries, First Nationwide Bank and U.S. Leasing, both headquartered in San Francisco.
 -0- 10/18/93
 /CONTACT: Bob Bierman, 714-939-3699, or Judith Muhlberg, 313-322-9600, both of Ford/

CO: Ford Motor Company ST: California IN: AUT SU:

SB -- DE017 -- 3337 10/18/93 11:15 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 18, 1993

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