Ford's 2009 F-150 is being delayed by two months due to "market conditions".

The current Chevrolet Suburban may soldier on for a few more years due to fuel prices.

The Ford Verve concept car foreshadows the upcoming 2010 Fiesta
Domestic auto giants take drastic steps to deal with rising fuel costs.

Large vehicles are taking a serious hit with the rise in fuel prices. DailyTech reported earlier this month that Ford's F-Series was knocked off its perch as the country's best selling vehicle in May. The F-Series was dethroned by not one, but four Japanese sedans (Honda Civic and Accord, Toyota Corolla and Camry) -- this was the first time that the F-Series wasn't at the top of the monthly sales chart since late 1991.

Auto manufacturers and dealerships are fighting back with schemes promising free gas for a year or discounted pricing on future fuel expenses. Ford, for example, is offering 0% financing on nearly all of its vehicles and employee pricing on the F-Series -- presumably to help boost the truck back into sales lead for the month of June.

GM is taking a more drastic step that will affect its future product plans. The current lineup of GM full-size pickups and SUVs was scheduled to be redesigned for 2012. Due to the changing market conditions, GM has suspended plans for this move and is instead shuttling its engineers to other projects. The "other projects" in this case will be the development of more fuel efficient cars.

"We're going to leave all of our options open, but this is a direct result of the market conditions we are facing," said GM spokesman Tom Pyden.

The move is not surprising at all considering that company sales of trucks, SUVs, and full-size vans tumbled 37 percent during the month of May. To make matter worse, GM is even having trouble selling its more efficient, hybrid full-size SUVs. GM projected to sell 12,000 of its Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid full-size SUVs during all of 2008 -- through the first five months of 2008, the company only managed to move a combined total of 1,100 vehicles.

GM is also on track to close four of its plants that produce full-size SUVs and pickups by the end of 2010. This will reduce annual production of said vehicles by 700,000 units per year. GM, however, will also boost car production by an additional 200,000 units per year to somewhat blunt the impact. "Somewhat" is the key word as GM makes three times the amount of profit for each full-size truck or SUV that is sells versus a compact or mid-size sedan.

GM isn't the only feeling the effects of the gas crunch, however. Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of Marketing and Communications sent out an email to dealers earlier this week with regards to a two-month delay in the introduction of the all-new, 2009 Ford F-150.

"In parallel, Ford is adjusting the public introduction timing of the new 2009 Ford F-150 by approximately two months due to the industry-wide slowdown in the U.S. truck market and the need to sell down dealer inventory of the current model," said Farley. "The new F-150 now will go on sale in late fall."

With dealers having so much trouble finding buyers for the old '08 F-150, it doesn't really make sense to drop an all-new model onto dealer lots for the buyers that are looking to buy a truck.

Ford also announced that its Dearborn truck plant will be idled for much of Q3, while the line speed will be reduced for two additional full-size truck/SUV plants. A fourth plant, the Cuautitlan Assembly Plant in Mexico, will cease building full-size trucks and will ramp up production of the all-new sub-compact Ford Fiesta in 2010.

Luckily for GM and Ford, help is on the way with new car models due in the next few years. GM hopes to gain some mindshare with the American car-buying populous with the Chevrolet Volt. The vehicle is due in 2010 and can travel 40 miles on battery power alone thanks to its lithium-ion battery pack. The company is also banking on its next generation Chevrolet Cobalt to boost small car sales.

Ford on the other hand is finally coming around to embracing the idea of shared global vehicle platforms and will provide a single Focus for all global markets (Ford’s home market has been saddled with the nearly decade-old Focus platform while other markets received a second generation platform a few years ago). Ford will also bring the aforementioned Fiesta in 2010 to the U.S. to do battle with the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. The Fiesta will take styling cues from the Ford Verve concept car.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki