Blog: Dave LeggettFord's UAW dissidents

Dave Leggett | 30 October 2009

There was more good news for Ford on the product quality front in the US this week from Consumer Reports which confirms the strides in build quality/reliability made in recent years. And Alan Mulally is right to accentuate the positives in Ford's corporate performance. There are some encouraging signs of progress. But there could be a UAW sting in the tail as an agreement between Ford and the UAW leadership faces ratification.

Some at the UAW, it seems, are certainly getting the message that Ford is different and hearing the positive noises coming out of Dearborn. However, they are then making the connection that Ford doesn't need the same concessions as those given to GM and Chrysler. That's dangerous thinking that could tempt Ford to greater outsourcing to maintain cost competitiveness.

Ford's relative success in Detroit terms is just that. Yes, it has stayed out of Chapter 11 and is forging a strategy to get back to full-year profitability in 2011. But it isn't quite there yet and 2010 won't see a sharp bounce-back to the US auto market. It will be a slow recovery, subject to uncertainties over what happens to the global economy.

Where do you want to be in five or ten years time? This is an industry with too many players, global overcapacity and some relatively new entrants from emerging markets coming up fast.

In many parts of this industry – and especially in the US - we're still in a recession-induced crisis, even if it's not as bad today as it looked a year ago. It's still not over and anyone who thinks that we're getting back to the 'good old days' could be in for a rude awakening.

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