Many changes are currently being put in place regarding Ford (F), which will have far-reaching consequences for stockholders. CEO Alan Mulally appears to be the catalyst behind these changes. The first part of the makeover involves producing smaller cars. In order to get ahead of the game, Ford has come to the conclusion that it needs to start focusing more on sustainability, and is therefore working on increasing the fuel efficiency of its vehicles.
Although the larger cars will still be produced, they will be geared toward greater fuel efficiency. The overall image of Ford will eventually be that of a company which mostly makes smaller cars. It will certainly be a change of pace for Ford, who for years stood behind its F-line of trucks. The process involved in moving from being a trucking company to one that produces smaller cars primarily will be a huge adjustment for the company and this may have ripple effects in the stock market. Even truckers want to see fuel efficiency in the vehicles they use these days, with gas prices being where they are.
In terms of going green, Ford has introduced a new battery powered Ford Focus hatchback. The company as a whole is more than prepared for the potential of gradual growth in this market, and intends to continue production, even if initial sales of the car are well below desirable levels. CEO Alan Mulally says that at first he is expecting sales to be slow and says that the viability of electric cars for the average man on the street will increase in the years to come, along with improvements in battery technology. It is important to note that the price of batteries used in these cars has dropped substantially over recent years. Electric cars are a long-term investment, but they may well be the trend to look out for in the future.
However, it cannot be stressed enough that these developments in electrically powered vehicles will take time. For example, Ford's trucks and larger vehicles will not be converted to electric power any time soon based on the costliness of the batteries needed to run them at this stage.
Other competitors currently working towards "green" endeavors are General Motors (GM) and Toyota (TM). General Motors recently announced the release of a bi-fuel pick-up truck which is aimed at better fuel efficiency and sustainability. Though the trucks are being released at a higher price than initially anticipated, the introduction of this new option has been received well among consumers and may represent one of the company's better products to date.
Toyota plans to establish a "research and development center for advanced automotive technology" that focuses on the use of electricity in cars, among other things. Toyota will be working alongside Tohoku University in this endeavor, and the hope is that the combined skills of the university and Toyota will yield fantastic results.
Lastly, Ford is focused on growing at a global level. Ford plans to expand from being primarily a US company to having a global presence. One way in which Mulally has attempted to achieve this is by expanding the company's production of smaller cars, specifically in international markets. International automobile consumers have never taken well to the brand's line of large semi-trucks. In Europe and Asia, it's no secret that small cars sell better. Not to mention, with gas prices in these regions being much higher than the US, a line of fuel efficient cars should sell better.
The main way in which Ford intends to achieve global status is by reducing the number of different cars that they produce and creating one line of products that can be marketed the world over. This trend to go global has already met with some success as it is a far more financially viable route to pursue. It has even inspired competitors such as General Motors to imitate the strategy.
Although the plan seems like a huge departure from Ford's previous strategy, there is plenty of evidence in support of the claim that Alan Mulally has the right idea when it comes to the future of his company. In the time since he became the CEO, the company has once again succeeded in becoming profitable, and its stock price has increased significantly. It has also brought other companies success along with it, like Sirius XM (SIRI), whose installation deal with Ford has brought new subscribers for the satellite radio service, and possibly some new drivers looking to tune in while they ride.
Ford's other competitors have also been making big moves recently. Audi, owned by Volkswagen, is in the process of acquiring Ducati for the price of $1.2 billion. BMW (BAMXY.PK) has very recently suffered a run of bad luck having had to recall its Rolls-Royce Ghosts luxury models and top-of-the-line V8 and V12-powered BMW's due to a faulty circuit board in the water pump which can cause smoldering and sometimes even start a fire in the engine. Following closely on the heels of this setback, BMW was then required to announce the recall of the Mini Cooper S and Mini John Cooper Works models due to a problem with the water pump.
With a few of its competitors struggling, now is the optimal time for Ford to take an aggressive step forward. Ford is ready to capitalize and grab some more of the market share, and it has its new products ready for launch. With additional research and development underway, Ford is looking brighter than ever.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.