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Just How Bad Is It At Ford?

Have you driven a Ford lately?

Sure, that was a commercial tag line several years ago, but it's a rhetorical question that bears asking right now. And the answer is not a pretty one for the folks in Dearborn. Last month Ford's sales fell 10.4% in large part because dealers are struggling to move the company's trucks and suv's.

Need proof?

Ford's incentives last month, according to the research firm Autodata, jumped 49.6% to $4,231 per vehicle. Despite throwing that much cash on the hood, Ford's retail days supply as of last Friday was 126 days, according to the CNW marketing research. Automakers would like to have 60-70 days supply, and red-hot Toyota ended last month with 49 days supply.

So Ford faces the sad fact that even with the sweetest deals among the major automakers, it's still struggling to move the metal. Partially because GM's redesigned suv's, which came out last spring, and full size pick-ups, which are just hitting showrooms, are winning over buyers.

Ford has long said, "quality is job 1". Right now, job 1 should be getting out fresh products as quickly as possible. Company executives tell me they are sprucing up the current line-up, and there are new models on the way. But the urgency is growing. With it's latest round of borrowing, Ford's bought some financial breathing room. Now if it can only breathe some life into it's line-up we may actually have more people saying they have in fact driven a Ford lately.

Autos