Roulston Research June 28th Automotive Lunch with Former Ford President

July 2, 2013

On June 28th, Roulston Research held a lunch on the automotive industry with Steve Lyons.  Mr. Lyons is the Former President Ford Division, Ford Motor Company and Former President and CEO, Ford España.  Topics that were discussed include the differences between GM and Ford, the future market for automobiles in China, and the future of electric cars, among other things.

A majority of his insight came in comparing Ford to GM.  In his opinion, Ford is positioned more favorably in the U.S., with better margins, and the U.S. market is expected to perform very well in the coming years for both companies.  In Europe, the market outlook is much bleaker, with consolidation and downsizing nearly a necessity for all manufacturers.  Ford has done a better job of closing plants in England, and has a clear plan for consolidation, whereas GM has only managed to close one German plant.  In China, where there is the most room for growth, GM is in a much better position than Ford, owning the second largest market share in the country, only behind Volkswagen.  They have a much better dealer network than Ford, something that will be increasingly difficult to improve, since the Chinese government has stopped giving licenses to new dealers.  In the future of automobile types, it seems difficult to imagine electric vehicles becoming more than merely a niche vehicle, unless better technology is developed for improving the ability of batteries to hold their charge.  On the other hand, natural gas power may become possible on larger vehicles, such as trucks, though remains a remote possibility for smaller automobiles.  Finally, Mr. Lyons sees the American market as being able to support up to new 16 million units per year.  If the industry eclipses that number, it may be prone to a market correction, as happened in the mid 2000’s.  If you would like to hear the whole podcast, or engage in a 1 on 1 discussion with Steve, please email

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