Ford formed a team this week, called it the “Enterprise Product Line Management (EPLM) group,” and put it to work with the company’s marketing, engineering, mobility, and product development arms to overhaul the company’s product lineup. The goal is to study what customers want and use that information to build more profitable, competitive vehicles.
The team is split into ten smaller divisions that will focus their efforts on a specific model or product group — including everything from electric models to rugged off-roaders. However, EPLM won’t simply be responsible for their development — it’s also in charge of making sure customers are engaged with everything Ford offers, and that the products are brought to market swiftly, sell well, and remain profitable to manufacture. That’s a pretty full plate, if you ask us.
Ford’s profit margin for its global operations sank to less than 3 percent in the second quarter of this year, while North American margins slipped to 7.4 percent. Ford hopes to get a handle on that and raise its profit margin to 8 percent globally by 2020, with North American sitting pretty at 10 percent. EPLM is expected to be a large part of that process.
“Our most successful franchises — from F-150 to Mustang to Transit — are anchored in an obsession for the customer, deep product expertise and an unyielding commitment to strong returns,” explained Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets. “By taking this approach, we can raise the bar across our product lines. Each team will have clear accountability for winning in the marketplace and delivering profitable growth.”
Headed by Jim Baumbick (pictured), vice president of EPLM, the ten teams will be responsible for Ford’s F-Series, urban utilities, rugged utilities, family utilities, performance vehicles, commercial vehicles, electric vehicles, compact trucks, luxury vehicles, and emerging market vehicles. And those people will be incredibly busy, as the automaker intends to increase its number of nameplates by 2023. In doing so, Ford wants to possess the most new models of any manufacturer — targeting an average vehicle age of 3.3 years for its future fleet.
However, those models will also serve as a precision strike, focusing on the kind of vehicles people are most likely to buy as Ford goes about culling sedans and hatchbacks from its lineup. It places a lot of pressure on Enterprise Product Line Management, as any failures stemming from the strategy could be placed directly upon its shoulders.
a version of this article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com