Ford has cut back production for the second quarter ahead of model changeovers and slower sales for the first few months of 2003 and the threat of war.

American manufacturer Ford has cut back production for the second quarter ahead of model changeovers and slower sales for the first few months of 2003 and the threat of war.

The 17 per cent cut is one of the largest in the manufacturer’s history. Ford will build 980 000 cars and trucks between April and June after building 1,18 million in the same period a year ago.

Ford is also switching production from the current F-150 pickup to a new 2004 version in the second quarter. Ford will stop production at the Norfolk assembly plant for nearly a month to retool for the changeover. A number of other plants are likely to be shut down for a period to accommodate the cuts in production.

Ford sales analysis manager George Pipas said future one-week shutdowns will be announced on a week-by-week basis.

Pipas said more car plants were likely to have shutdowns as Ford plans to make 665 000 light trucks, which include pickups, minivans and sport-utility vehicles, accounting for a little more than two-thirds of the quarter's scheduled production.

"Given the slowing sales, sketchy consumer confidence and war, I think Ford decided there was enough uncertainty to slow down the train," said Jeff Schuster, director of North America forecasting for JD Power and Associates, told . "This is a time of uncertainty."

"Right now we are in a period where consumers are very cautious," Pipas said. "There is yellow flag out and right now we are running caution laps. Still, we feel very positive about the position we are in."

Original article from Car