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Ford to Make Fewer Cars in the First Quarter

Ford Motor expects to produce 685,000 vehicles in North America during the first quarter of 2008, 55,000 fewer than the first three months of last year, the company said in a report filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ford announced today that it is cutting production by 21% resulting in downtime at the assembly plant in St. Thomas Ontario on Friday Aug. 18, 2006. Ford Motor Co. announces sharp cuts in its North American production that would force it to partially shut down plants in the U.S. and Canada in the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Canadian Press, Geoff Robins)
Geoff Robins
Ford announced today that it is cutting production by 21% resulting in downtime at the assembly plant in St. Thomas Ontario on Friday Aug. 18, 2006. Ford Motor Co. announces sharp cuts in its North American production that would force it to partially shut down plants in the U.S. and Canada in the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Canadian Press, Geoff Robins)

Ford's automotive sector should generate 2008 pretax results, including special items, that are better than last year, though still a loss, the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker said in its annual report filed with the SEC.

Results should be boosted by an expected $3 billion improvement in Ford's operating costs for the sector.

"We remain committed to our plan to return to profitability in North America and in our total automotive operations in 2009," Ford said.

The company estimated that U.S. market share for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands in 2008 will be in the low end of a range of 14 percent to 15 percent. Ford's capital spending will be around $6 billion, it said.

In its financial services sector, Ford Credit should be profitable this year but at a lower level than in 2007, according to the report. This is down from the company's outlook of "about equal" announced on Jan. 24.

From 2007 through 2009, Ford Motor anticipates cumulative operating-related cash outflows of $7 billion to $8 billion in its automotive sector and cumulative cash expenditures of $5 billion to $6 billion for personnel "separations."

Ford does not expect the benefits of its recent labor agreement with the United Auto Workers to substantially boost cash flow before 2010.

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