With investors questioning Ford's near-term outlook, the American automaker heads into the fourth quarter needing a shot in the arm from its bread-and-butter truck: the F-Series.
The new pickup, which is a dramatic shift incorporating aluminum panels, rolls into showrooms later this year and comes at a time when Ford is dialing back earnings expectations.
Monday afternoon the automaker told analysts it expects to earn at least $1 billion less in 2014 due to a series of setbacks, including weaker profits in Europe and the recall of 850,000 vehicles with defective air bags. The recall will cost the automaker $500 million.
"We're looking at about a $6 billion year with very strong cash flow and continuing to invest in a future that, as we outlined today, is going to be much better in 2015," Ford CFO Bob Shanks said.
Ford may be optimistic about growing its business in 2015 and beyond, but in the near term, investors have decided to park the stock. It finished Monday down more than 7 percent and was down more than 2½ percent Tuesday morning.
If ever there was a time when Ford needed its bet on an aluminum F-Series to pay off, it's now.
While Ford is careful to say the new truck's official fuel economy has yet to be established, the expectation is the new, lighter F-Series will deliver at least 27 or 28 miles per gallon on the highway.
That fuel efficiency is one benefit of having a lighter pickup with aluminum, not steel panels.