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Ford Latest Victim of Record Oil Prices

The automaker said it likely will not return to profitability in 2009, as it shifts production to more fuel-efficient vehicles to satisfy consumer tastes.
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High gasoline prices are moving

Ford

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to alter its production plans to stress smaller cars, which the automaker on Thursday said will prevent it from becoming profitable next year.

Ford said it will increase production of smaller, hotter-selling vehicles like the Ford Focus, Fusion, Edge and Escape, while cutting back on gas-guzzling SUVs and large trucks as consumers "move quickly" to more fuel-efficient vehicles. The company also said it would cut overall production of vehicles for the rest of the year, which will impact its

earlier forecast

of returning to the black in 2009.

"Unless there is a fairly rapid turnaround in U.S. business conditions, which we are not anticipating, it now looks like it will take longer than expected to achieve our North American Automotive profitability goal," CEO Alan Mulally said. "Overall, we expect to be about break-even companywide in 2009 -- with continued strong results in Europe and South America."

Crude oil has set several records this week, soaring to more than $133 a barrel Wednesday.

Ford shares were down 4.4% to $7.45 after Thursday's opening bell and rival

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General Motors

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was down 1.2% to $18.89. Japanese competitors

Toyota

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and

Honda

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were up slightly.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.