Ford suspects it may be getting squeezed out by its Japanese rivals. With the fall launch of the gas-electric Mercury Mariner, Ford is tripling its hybrid SUV lineup over three years. But its transmission supplier, Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd., can boost deliveries by only 20 percent, to 24,000 transmissions annually.
"Aisin, which is minority-controlled by Toyota, has interesting shareholders they have to answer to," said Mary Ann Wright, director of Ford's hybrid programs research and advanced engineering.
I am surprised by the blatant hammering of Aisin in the public press. These are heavy handed tactics. What does Ford expect--that a Toyota supplier, which is probably much better treated by Toyota than by Ford, would choose to give more business to Ford over Toyota? If Aisin has limited capacity, wouldn't they give the business to their best customer?
This may be a ploy by Ford to deflect criticism from the Greenies that it is not producing enough hybrids.
Also, given that the profit margins on hybrids tend to be negative, does Ford really want to dramatically increase production?