Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Robert Rapier on May 22, 2008 with no responses

Ford Awakens from a Slumber; Post Office Rejects Ethanol

It seems that the reality of our situation is sinking in at Ford:

Ford’s trouble: $4 gas is here to stay

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Ford Motor Co. executives say they believe that $4 gas is here to stay, resulting in a fundamental consumer shift away from gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups and causing continued losses at its core North American auto unit.

The company said it expects gas prices to remain in the range of $3.75 to $4.25 a gallon through the end of 2009. And that expectation prompted the nation’s No. 3 automaker to announce deep production cuts for what has been its best selling and most profitable vehicles for several decades and could lead to more plant closings and job cuts down the road.

The company plans to ramp up production of smaller cars and crossovers: Ford Focus, Fusion, Edge and Escape, the Mercury Milan and Mariner, as well as the Lincoln MKZ and Lincoln MKX. These models generally cost less and have lower profit margins than the light truck models for which Ford is cutting production, such as the F-Series pickup, still the nation’s best selling vehicle.

I think that’s good news for everyone, except Ford shareholders and some Ford employees.

And a feel-good story about the ethanol industry:

Ethanol Vehicles for Post Office Burn More Gas, Get Fewer Miles

May 21 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Postal Service purchased more than 30,000 ethanol-capable trucks and minivans from 1999 to 2005, making it the biggest American buyer of alternative-fuel vehicles. Gasoline consumption jumped by more than 1.5 million gallons as a result.

The trucks, derived from Ford Motor Co.’s Explorer sport-utility vehicle, had bigger engines than Jeeps from the former Chrysler Corp. they replaced. A Postal Service study found the new vehicles got as much as 29 percent fewer miles to the gallon. Mail carriers used the corn-based fuel in just 1,000 of them because there weren’t enough places to buy it.

“You’re getting fewer miles per gallon, and it’s costing us more,” Walt O’Tormey, the Postal Service’s Washington-based vice president of engineering, said in an interview. The agency may buy electric vehicles instead, he said.

Perhaps I should have said, “feel-good story for me.” After all, when corn-fueled cars are traded in for electric cars, that feels pretty good to me. In fairness though, I should point out that it does say that the ethanol-fueled vehicles they bought had bigger engines. Not sure why they went that route.