Customers show tremendous confidence in an auto maker when they buy one of its vehicles, says James J. Padilla, president of Ford Motor Co.
“It's the most expensive suit of clothes they'll ever buy and they want to wear it proudly,” he says.
It's up to the auto maker to develop and produce a product that not only inspires consumer loyalty and confidence, but also pays mind to costs — “or you end up upside down real fast,” says Padilla. “In the end, the guys with the best product and execution wins, and we intend to win.”
Padilla, who rose from the manufacturing ranks, says Ford is refining a production process that stresses flexibility, speed and commonality “while protecting unique brand identities.”
That's why three cars within the Ford domain — the Ford Focus, Volvo S40 and Mazda3 — share the same platform, but not the same styling, rides and powertrains.
Such flexibility in manufacturing controls costs and responds more nimbly to market demands. That affects what happens in showrooms, says Padilla.
“We're looking to go from ‘the deal’ to the appeal approach,” he says.
Ford is curtailing production so supply doesn't overwhelm demand. Controlling output avoids discount pricing, low residuals and brand degradation, says Padilla.
“This is the right move even though we may take it on the chin,” he says. “And, by the way, our profits are up.”