Ford Lost Money in the Third Quarter as Costs Surged

Ford Motor on Wednesday said it lost money in the third quarter as rising costs took a toll on the company and it wrote down the value of an investment in a self-driving technology business.

The automaker said it lost $827 million, compared with a profit of $1.8 billion in the third quarter of 2021. Its revenue in the three months from July to September totaled $39.4 billion, compared with $35.7 billion in the year-ago period.

Ford said it shipped 1.1 million cars and light trucks in the quarter, compared with just over one million in the same period last year.

The company’s operating profit in North America fell and it lost money in China and in its mobility division, which has been trying to develop self-driving cars and other new lines of businesses. Ford said it was winding down its self-driving technology business, Argo AI, which also counts Volkswagen as an investor, to focus on driver-assistance technology that the company is building internally. That decision led to a $2.7 billion write-down of Ford’s investment in the business. The company said it would hire some employees from Argo.

John Lawler, Ford’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call on Wednesday that the company was shifting its focus away from fully autonomous vehicles and toward advanced driver-assistance systems that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel while still keeping their eyes on the road.

“It’s clear that profitable L4 systems are a long way away,” he said, referring to technology that allows drivers to rely on the car to drive itself in certain areas or under ideal weather conditions.

Last month Ford signaled that costs were rising fast in the third quarter, warning that spending on parts and materials would be $1 billion higher than expected. At the time, it said adjusted earnings before interest and taxes would be between $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion in the three-month period. A year ago it had adjusted earnings of $3 billion.

Like other carmakers, Ford has struggled to adjust to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including a global shortage of computer chips. The company’s production has bounced up and down from month to month as parts have become easier or harder to come by.

Ford said it expected full-year adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $11.5 billion. It had previously expected adjusted earnings of $11 billion to $12.5 billion.

Separately on Wednesday, Ford said it had reached an agreement to sell its 49 percent stake in a Russian joint venture, Sollers Ford. Ford suspended operations in Russia after the country invaded Ukraine. Another automaker, Mercedes-Benz, also said Wednesday that it would withdraw from Russia and sell its assets in the country.

Ford’s partner in its Russian venture agreed to buy the stake for a nominal price, although the company retained an option to buy it back within five years.