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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Ford strives to speed up inventory flow

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Ford strives to speed up inventory flow

Jamie LaReau

Automotive News -- February 22, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

ORLANDO -- Ford Motor Co. executives told dealers that the automaker is working on ways to get them a steadier supply of products.

Ford leaders confirmed here at the make meeting that Mercury will get a new small car in 2011.

Some Ford dealers say they are having trouble getting hot-selling vehicles such as the Taurus sedan in stock. Even dealers in metro areas complain they cannot get enough Fusion and Taurus sedans, although the automaker says it is boosting production in the first quarter. The problem is in the ordering system and parts supply chain, executives say.

"We're not perfect by any means, but we're working collaboratively with dealers on this," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.

Fields said Ford is trying to simplify the ordering system so that products get to dealerships faster. Ford is working with a committee of dealers to speed up the ordering system. Ford also wants to reduce bottlenecks with parts suppliers.

That means "making sure the supply chain is as efficient as possible," Fields said. "A big piece of that is making sure we reduce the complexity so that our suppliers are able to deliver the parts when we want them and when we want to deliver the cars to the dealers."

Ford dealers could start ordering the new Fiesta small car on Feb. 15. The Fiesta will arrive in showrooms this summer. More than 60 percent of dealers have indicated they will order high trim levels of the car that includes leather seats, said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.

Dealer Martin Gubbels, owner of Big Sky Ford in Torrington, Wyo., said he will order two Fiestas immediately, but added: "That doesn't mean I'll get anything."

At the meeting, Ford also confirmed it will give Mercury a new small car in 2011.

Two dealers who attended the meeting said the car will be called the Mercury Tracer. It will be a version of the Ford Focus small car that Ford will launch in the early part of next year, dealers said.

Ford wants to train dealers to sell and service this year's launch vehicles: the Fiesta, Focus and Super Duty pickup, dealers say.

Ford told dealers it is considering more online training to save dealers money.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Ford is working to get a better product flow that will boost dealers' inventory.

• Mercury will get a version of the Focus in 2011.

• Dealers will get sales and service training on newly launched vehicles.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100222/RETAIL06/302229993/1379#ixzz0gGrmNZ5A

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