Ford Says It Will Be Fit Enough To Weather Sales Drop-Off in 2001
                    December 5, 2000

                    By JOSEPH B. WHITE
                    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

                    DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Jacques
                    Nasser said he expects U.S. vehicle sales in 2001 to ease to about 16.5
                    million vehicles, but he expressed confidence Ford will weather the
                    slowdown in good shape.

                    Ford last week issued a warning that its
                    fourth-quarter profit would be about 75 cents a
                    share, or 10 cents below previous Wall Street
                    forecasts. Mr. Nasser wouldn't comment on
                    projections for the first quarter or all of 2001.
                    Analysts are projecting earnings of 84 cents a
                    share for the quarter and $3.39 a share for the
                    year, according to a survey by First Call/Thomson

                    Mr. Nasser said the economy appears to be heading
                    for a soft landing after a series of Federal Reserve
                    rate increases. "For our industry, it's soft, but it's
                    sudden," he said. "Many companies were surprised
                    and were left with unusually high inventories," he said.

                    The slowdown in the U.S. vehicle-sales pace from annualized levels close
                    to 19 million vehicles earlier this year happened "very quickly," Mr.
                    Nasser said. Auto makers had to rapidly overhaul production plans
                    geared to higher volumes.

                                         "We should be able to adjust quickly and align
                                         production with demand," he said. Actions Ford
                                         has taken to slow production should be "what's
                                         needed if the market doesn't deteriorate any
                                         further," he said.

                                         But Mr. Nasser said he is optimistic that Ford
                                         will weather the slowdown well. He said several
                                         new products are due to hit the market this
                                         year, including a new Ford Explorer sport-utility
                                         vehicle, the Escape compact SUV, and the
                    Jaguar X-Type entry-level luxury car.

                    "There's very little that can substitute for strong products," he said.
                    "The weak suffer first. We've got the strongest brands, and they're
                    diverse in demographics and appeal."

                    In addition, Mr. Nasser said Ford will be slowing factories from speeds in
                    excess of rated capacity to a more normal pace. That could help Ford by
                    giving suppliers and factory workers more time to attack problems that
                    have hampered the launch of some key Ford vehicles, notably the new
                    Escape, he said. The slowdown "gives us an opportunity to take some
                    tension out of the system," Mr. Nasser said.

                    Mr. Nasser added that Ford will look for ways to cut costs further, but
                    he declined to outline specific new actions, noting that Ford has cut
                    operating costs significantly during the past several years.

                    "I see opportunities in every area of the business: costs, investment,
                    revenue growth," he said. "I wouldn't look at it as a need only to reduce

                    Write to Joseph White at