Updated with CEO Alan Mulally's comments on conference call.DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- Everything was falling into place for Ford ( F) even before Toyota ( symbol) said it would halt sales of eight vehicles. Now, auto buyers will likely be even more willing to consider Ford vehicles, CEO Alan Mulally said on an earnings conference call Thursday, after the company reported strong fourth-quarter profits and said it will be profitable in 2010 and 2011. "It's going to depend on how this all plays out and how fast Toyota gets this behind them," Mulally said. "With the void right now, I am sure there is going to be more interest in Ford, but the cool thing is it's going to be an opportunity for our products to be viewed again. "The way we are approaching it (is) we are really focused on the customers and what they want," Mulally said. "Clearly everybody realizes that we are competing with the best in the world, including Toyota (and) we anticipate we will see more and more interest in Ford in 2010." Ford is expected to benefit from Toyota's woes. However, in response to concerns regarding accelerator pedals, Ford said Thursday that it has halted production in China of the diesel version of the Transit Classic, which is built by a Chinese joint venture. Only about 1,600 have been produced, and Ford partner Jiangling Motors Co., said there has been no problem. "Our assessment is it's very isolated," Mulally said. "Following our normal process, when anybody has an issue in the industry, we check everything." He said the joint venture switched suppliers in December."
|Alan Mulally, Ford CEO|