Ford CEO Alan Mulally said Wednesday after a popular keynote address that press reports, namely one in The Detroit News, were untrue regarding the likely replacement of Mark Fields and sales/marketing chief Cisco Codino would likely be replaced soon.
It’s true that Mulally is evaluating internal executive talent, but it’s also true that Mulally isn’t looking for scapegoats for Ford’s current sales situation. Ford lagged sales targets in January and February, but made up ground in March. Overall, ssaid Mulally and Fields, it’s share of U.S. retail sales—Ford, Lincoln and Mercury—, the metric they are watching closely, has stablized at around 11%.
Mulally is under pressure to shore up revenues. But he’s being thwarted by rising gas prices and a housing downturn that is hurting sales of Ford F Series and Ford Explorer. Fusion and Edge are doing well, especially the trio of Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ. Combined sales of those models are up up 35% for the first quarter.
Mulally called such reports “hurtful.” Privately, the CEO says he isn’t scapegoating anyone, and that the executives are executing against the turnaround plan together. Mulally gives every indication of meaning what he says about supporting Fields. Ford could always buy share and sales though mega discounts and fleet sales. But Mulally is holding the line for the good of the brand, residual value, et al.