Wednesday, 10 October 2018 20:32

Despite Trade Pact, Jittery Days Remain for U.S. Auto Industry

Written by Bill Koenig, AdvancedManufacturing.org




Section 232 is the term the U.S. Commerce Department uses for investigating whether tariffs should be levied.


Déjà Vu


Trade isn’t the only worry.


Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI), a decade after avoiding bankruptcy, is again looking to revamp itself and cutting jobs.


The automaker relies heavily on large pickups for the bulk of its profit. Its CEO, Jim Hackett, who took command of the company last year, talks about making Ford more fit.


In early October, the company told salaried employees that cuts are coming. For now, there’s no hard timeline.


“We are in the early stages of reorganizing our global salaried workforce to support the company’s strategic objectives, create a more dynamic and empowering work environment, and become more fit as a business,” the company said in a statement. “The reorganization will result in headcount reduction over time, and this will vary based on team and location. We will announce more specifics at the appropriate time.”


During the 2000s, Ford had a series of restructuring plans that cut thousands of jobs. The company recruited Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally as CEO in 2006. He sold off European luxury brands and got rid of Mercury. The company was able to avoid bankruptcy, unlike General Motors and Chrysler, because it borrowed using its assets (including trademarks such as the Ford blue oval logo) as collateral.


Mulally at the time was hailed as a turnaround artist. But that was then. The automotive world has gotten more complicated since Mulally retired in 2014. Now, there are issues such as self-driving cars and ride-sharing services to deal with.


Mulally’s successor, Mark Fields, was found wanting by the company’s board. Now it’s Hackett’s turn. The outcome isn’t assured. Once more, Ford employees brace themselves for cuts.


Jittery days.


We thank AdvancedManufacturing.org for reprint permission.

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