Ford Motor Co's
Ford, the only U.S. automaker not operating with emergency U.S. government loans, also has continued to consolidate its dealer network, but sees no need for the type of aggressive culling that rivals General Motors Corp
Not only do we have sufficient liquidity to finance our plan, but we are staying absolutely on our product transformation, Mulally said.
Mulally said there have been some positive signs on the economy from housing, construction and bank stability, with credit starting to loosen up a little bit, but whether Ford can begin to add jobs would be determined by the economy.
I think our forecast for things starting to turn in the second half of this year, we are kind of on track for that, he said of the automaker's forecast for U.S. auto industry sales.
Mulally also said Chrysler's bankruptcy has not led to difficulties with parts supplies so far, but the health of the interconnected supply base in the United States is critical to Ford's restructuring.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford told reporters the Chrysler plant shutdown for the duration of its reorganization, and GM's plan for broad plant idling this summer posed a risk to the auto parts supply base.
Obviously we have been doing a lot of planning with our supply base and, in certain cases, we have been helping them through it, but our ability to unilaterally carry the supply base, we can't do it, Bill Ford said. We clearly need a more comprehensive approach.
The government is keenly aware this is a major issue, the task force understands that. How they are planning to address it, that's really up to them.
The automaker has been talking to the U.S. autos task force overseeing the restructuring of the industry about the need for a comprehensive approach to the supply base, he said.
The executives spoke to reporters following a Ford announcement of $550 million of investments in a former truck plant near Detroit being converted to produce small cars.
The investment in the United Auto Workers-represented plant comes at a time when restructurings by Ford's U.S. rivals GM and Chrysler include plant closings and reworked labor deals.
Ford has already reached labor cost cuts with the UAW, but has said its agreements must remain competitive with rivals.
In wide-ranging comments, Ford's president of the Americas, Mark Fields, said the automaker has ongoing discussions with the UAW and would look at the details of the GM and Chrysler agreements with the UAW to ensure competitiveness.
We have to see the specifics, but very clearly, it is an ongoing dialogue we have with the UAW and it's about being competitive and not being disadvantaged, Fields added.
(Reporting by David Bailey and Soyoung Kim; Editing by Andre Grenon)