By Jeff Gilbert

TRAVERSE CITY, MI — (WWJ) Ford’s top manufacturing executive says they are working to fix their problems in Europe, but they are not yet ready to say if it will mean plant closings.

INTERVIEW: Ford’s John Fleming talks with WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert

“It is more difficult,” says John Fleming, Ford executive vice president, Global Manufacturing. “There’s legislation in many countries. But I think the principal still applies.”

Principals, Fleming says, that were learned, and worked as Ford turned around its North American operations. And, he says, there are things they can do to take capacity out of their European operations without closing plants.

“Whether it’s shifts, whether it’s laying off people, looking at all elements of cost.”

Fleming is not ready to say when Ford will announce a plan for Europe, and says no strategy has been decided upon.

Ford and GM have both lost hundreds of millions of dollars in Europe, and have seen their profits and stock prices suffer because of it.

However, Fleming points out that—even with the challenges in Europe—the auto industry is growing globally.

“We’re a growth industry,” Fleming told the Management Briefing Seminars. “Even with the current issues, the outlook is that this industry is going to grow two-fold and double in its size been 2000 and 2020.”

That, Fleming says, creates opportunities going forward. He says his company’s “One Ford” philosophy has saved money and time by standardizing operations around the world, and will result in more products being created at lower cost.

Last year’s contract with the UAW, says Fleming, is allowing Ford to operate more efficiently in the United States.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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