Ford Sees Itself as a Technology Company

Wall Street Journal

Tak­ing a for­ward look, Ford Motor Co. exec­u­tives say they are con­fi­dent they can sus­tain a robust pace of growth over the next cou­ple years, and beyond.

Find out more about what Ford exec­u­tives think of the automak­er.

Ford Motor Co’s mes­sage to the world is, “we are a growth com­pa­ny.”

Ford said today its rev­enues leapt 12% in the third quar­ter from a fair­ly healthy base a year ago.

What’s more? Ford exec­u­tives say they are con­fi­dent they can sus­tain a robust pace of growth over the next cou­ple years. Ford is like­ly to fin­ish 2013 with around 6 mil­lion in vehi­cles sold world­wide – in two or three years Ford expects to be sell­ing 8 mil­lion vehi­cles a year – an implied annu­al growth rate of rough­ly 10–15%.

Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer Mark Fields said Thurs­day he felt good about that pre­dic­tion, assum­ing no big finan­cial melt-down.

Ford isn’t a “mature com­pa­ny,” says Chief Finan­cial Offi­cer Bob Shanks, in an exclu­sive inter­view. Instead, Ford exec­u­tives think of the auto mak­er as a tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny.

“That’s exact­ly how we see the com­pa­ny inter­nal­ly,” he said. “It cer­tain­ly is any­thing but a rust belt indus­try com­pa­ny from the ‘80s and ‘90s.”

What about Tes­la Motors Inc.? The elec­tric lux­u­ry car start­up led by tech­nol­o­gy bil­lion­aire Elon Musk has a mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of $19.9 bil­lion — rough­ly 28% of Ford’s $69 bil­lion val­ue — and it has yet to record a full-year prof­it.

Ford’s push to roll out new prod­ucts around the globe is part of the rev­enue expan­sion. Its port­fo­lio in Chi­na is rough­ly tripling from 2011 to 2015 and it is adding new prod­ucts in Europe, South Amer­i­ca, Rus­sia and the U.S.

Mr. Fields said Ford expects 4% to 5% annu­al vehi­cle sales growth for near­ly a decade in the glob­al indus­try. This year, auto mak­ers will sell about 84 mil­lion new cars and trucks. That fig­ure will vault over 109 mil­lion by 2020, dri­ven most­ly by Chi­na, but also by the increas­ing motor­iza­tion of small­er coun­tries in Africa and Asia.

 

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