Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally said on Tuesday that the U.S. economy is “clearly a concern” and the automaker will cut production as needed if market demand for vehicles weakened.
“For us, any slowdown in the economy — the housing industry, financing of vehicles, tightening of credit, housing starts — it puts a lot of pressure on consumer confidence to buy big-ticket items,” Mulally told reporters at a dinner ahead of the North American International Auto Show.
Ford has forecast that U.S. demand for light trucks and cars could dip below 15.5 million units on an annualized basis over the next six months.
In 2007, U.S. sales dropped almost 3 percent to 16.14 million vehicles, the lowest since 1998 and down from 16.55 million a year earlier.
“A lot of people are concerned about the value of the dollar,” Mulally said. “People are concerned about the U.S. economy. I think the whole (stock) market reflects uncertainty in the U.S. market.”
Ford, which lost $12.6 billion in 2006, is in the midst of a multiyear restructuring that aims to return its money-losing North American operations to profitability in 2009.
Ford President of North America Mark Fields said earlier on Tuesday that the automaker was on track to achieve that profitability target.
At least eight automotive stocks fell to lows of 52 weeks or more Wednesday on worries about a possible recession and lower-than-expected auto sales this year.
Ford dropped 28 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $5.82, passing a nearly 22-year low of $6 set Friday.
Meanwhile, General Motors Corp. shares tumbled $1.18, or 5.1 percent, to $22.12 after falling as low as $22.05 earlier in the day and passing its previous 52-week low of $22.87.