Fuel Pumps vs. Flacks: Is it crazy to suggest that Ford’s recent lower-than-expected profits (including a 39% decline in net income) had something to do with the company’s products–in particular their continuing failure to achieve competitive reliability? According to the latest Consumer Reports survey, “[A]most two thirds of the 34 Fords and Lincolns in our survey got [reliability] scores that were much worse than average. GM fared much better ….” Toyota, Subaru, and Mazda fared better still. **
For several years now, Ford’s PR department has been dancing around their company’s inability to fix this giant, embarrassing problem despite pledges to do so. Mainly, the flacks pretend the reliability glitches are confined to the hated Ford MyTouch touch screen system. Not true–Consumer Reports notes that Ford’s “EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engines have landed on the bottom reliability rung,” with problems that include old-school items like fuel pumps.
Ford recently raised its warranty reserve by $400 million, perversely allowing it to take cover behind GM’s better-publicized Cobalt ignition switch difficulties and to claim, ‘Hey, everybody’s doing it.’ From Reuters:
”Across the auto industry, safety recalls and warranty costs have received increasing attention as cars have become more complex and loaded with technology, Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said.
“‘Everybody is generally reacting, and certainly we do, as soon as we find a problem,’ he told reporters at the company’s suburban Detroit headquarters. ‘And you’re seeing that across the business. It’s not any particular company.‘” [E.A.]
Yes it is! Despite making several fun-to-drive cars, Ford finished dead last in CR‘s brand rankings (tied with Jeep). They’ve even managed to produce an unreliable hybrid, the C-Max. Is it crazy to think this is one reason Ford might have had to offer more profit-sapping incentives than in the past?
P.S.: Why hasn’t this story gotten more attention? I think it’s because it contradicts the MSM’s semi-official Ford Narrative–accepted on the right even more than the left–which is: ‘Unlike GM and Chrysler, they were well-managed. They didn’t take the bailout! They’re America’s automotive champion!’ They’re certainly the PR champion.
**– “Average” reliability for cars these days is pretty good, but I wouldn’t buy a car with a “much worse than average” rating.