The perception that Ford doesn't have new products in the pipeline and is too slow to restructure is incorrect, Mark Fields, the company's executive vice president and president of the Americas, claimed yesterday.
He insisted more new vehicles are on the way for the States starting next year.
While he wouldn't identify the models, he said there were a lot of developments that hadn't been announced.
"We haven't really talked about, obviously, the launches coming up in '07," said Mr Fields, whose mantra has been "change or die" since he took up the post in October.
Ford has been battered by critics, much of it due to the automaker's reliance on trucks and SUVs and the slow speed of replacing its existing model lineup.
On Friday, Moody's Investors Service lowered Ford's credit rating further into junk status, saying the market shift from big SUVs to cars was hurting the company's recovery prospects.
Merrill Lynch, in an industry overview last week, said it expected Ford to continue to lose market share because its products are older than its competitors and won't sell as well.
The average showroom age for Ford products from 2007 to 2010 is 3.5 years, the oldest among all manufacturers, Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy said. That compares with an industry average of 2.8 years.
"The pace of Ford's new product introductions is well behind the industry average, which is an ominous sign for Ford's market share and leaves its current restructuring efforts short of rightsizing the company," Mr Murphy wrote.
Ford plans to replace only 60 per cent of its models with new ones from the 2007 to 2010 model years, Mr Murphy claimed, versus the industry average of 70 per cent. General Motors, on the other hand, will replace 75 per cent of its models, and Toyota 83 per cent.
Replacement rate is a major factor in market share gains and losses, with buyers going for the newer models.
Merrill Lynch said it based the study on industry contacts, auto show visits, trade publications, supply chain relationships and its knowledge of management and product cycle planning.
US sales for all Ford brands, including Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, dropped 7.1 per cent last month from June 2005. For the first half of the year, sales were off 4.1 per cent when compared to the same time last year.
Market share for all Ford brands rose from 17.2 per cent in June of last year to 17.9 per cent last month, but the share dropped from 18.8 per cent during the first half of 2005 to 18.4 per cent during the first six months of 2006.
However Ford division car sales were up 10.7 per cent in June and 8.8 per cent for the first half of the year, and Mr Fields said that showed the company was headed in the right direction.
On the cost side, Mr Fields said Ford was well on its way toward its goal of cutting 30,000 hourly jobs and closing 14 facilities by 2012. By the end of this year, he expects 12,000 workers to take buyouts or retire, he said.
Mr Fields said he under-stood critics' impatience, which he experienced as he led a turnaround at Mazda, where he was president and chief executive officer.
"I understand there will be a certain level of skepticism," Mr Fields said.