Ok here are some more of my points from the point made
Rebates: New car buyers in the US (and now Europe) have become expectant of a rebate on a new car purchase and even Toyota is offering them more and more (averaging $2,900 per vehicle). This is an industry-wide problem but some manufacturers (esp the Japanese) are able to mange these because they are more efficient and productive in their plants - Ford can't afford this.
SUVs: The big three market share is being seriously eroded by the Japanese. Look at the roads. Ford market share is dropping - although that is not to say because their products are bad. The trouble is that they don't sufficiently fight the Japanese (and Germans) with equally good sedans. This is, to a degree, being rectified by Ford (and GM
Mergers: The best bits would be cherry picked first. All of the PAG could be sold off independently. Don't know about Lincoln. I agree DaimlerChrysler shows mergers can go wrong, but look at Renault Nissan (ok not a full merger) and you can see how very well they can go too.
Quality: This is becoming less of an issue. The defects per car has dropped dramatically from the worst offenders (although I still wouldn't buy a Fiat in Europe) so although the Japanese are ahead, it is nowhere near as much. Actually Toyota's reliability has dropped a very little recently.
Design: More and more car makers are designing niche models - in many cases thru platform sharing as well as pushing design. Look at Bangles new Bimmer 5 and 7 (and 6and Z4 even) for fresh design and the Golf platform for the Audi TT
and Beetle - lo production run/niche cars but cost little extra to make. This is what buyers want now. Actually the Golf 5 has sold about 20% less in 2003 than VW
anticipated and probably because it looks, well, dull, even if it drives (almost) as well as the Focus. I think Ford has made strides here in the US but not in Europe - a big bad money hole for Ford - where they have no 7 seater mini-MPV, no roadster, no convertible, no coupe.
PAG: I say again, Volvo is the only profitable part of it. Jaguar is hemorrhaging money. The new big (aluminum) Jag is a beauty, for sure, but it will never get close to the Merc S-Class. Aston is well run and has 3 great cars, but for Ford is is a drop in the ocean - 1/2% of total production?
Current cars: I guess there is an element of personal taste here (new Mustang, Thunderbird, F-350 excluded as everyone should love all 3) but as lovely as the Town Car is to look at it is rubbish inside and drives like a barge. I can think of 15 same class cars I'd rather have. There are other nice cars - I love the Lincoln LS
(a Jaguar S-Type underneath) but they are still not up with the best. In Europe Jag, although a lovely range, has real street credibility problems against Merc, Audi, Jag and (sadly) Lexus.
Bill Ford: Is not the man for the job. You need a horrid, cost cutting, factory improving, supplier beating CEO who, at the same time, cherishes design. He is not that. Being a Ford is great, sit in on the board meets, show an interest, have an important position, but what the company needs right now is a car exec with real real long term experience. I'd give the job to Reitzle.
I better stop, if I had been in a Ford I'd have broken down a long time ago.