February 26, 2020 / 12:57 PM / a month ago

Ford's incoming COO focuses on cost cuts, launches, change

DETROIT, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co’s incoming chief operating officer will outline on Wednesday his priorities for the company’s turnaround, including cost cuts and more efficient new-vehicle launches in a year that includes the introduction of a redesigned F-150 full-sized pickup truck.

Strategy chief Jim Farley, who begins his role as Ford COO on March 1 after being appointed earlier this month, is scheduled to speak at a Wolfe Research conference in New York early on Wednesday. Slides for his presentation showed other key parts of his strategy, include speeding up Ford’s push in vehicle connectivity and its commercial vehicle business.

The slides also show a focus on growing the battery electric vehicle business of the No. 2 U.S. automaker.

Ford has acknowledged that mistakes had hurt its introduction of the redesigned Explorer SUV.

The company named Farley its COO on Feb. 7, and promised investors it would kick a slow-moving turnaround into higher gear.

On Tuesday, shares hit their lowest in more than a decade as a rapidly escalating coronavirus epidemic that began in China threatened sales outside the United States.

Ford is in the midst of a global restructuring and faces slumping demand in China, its second-largest market. Chief Executive Jim Hackett has said the No. 2 U.S. automaker needs to move with greater speed.

It has booked $3.7 billion of a projected $11 billion in charges it previously said it would take, and expects to book another $900 million to $1.4 billion this year.

As part of its restructuring, Ford formed a wide-ranging alliance on commercial, electric and autonomous vehicles with Volkswagen AG and sold its money-losing operations in India to a venture controlled by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra.

In China, Ford lost $771 million last year, about half the 2018 loss, and its market share there has shrunk. Ford has been struggling to revive sales there since its business began slumping in late 2017, and prospects look more cloudy now that the world’s largest market has been hit by a fast-spreading coronavirus. (Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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