Ford's Latest Setback Hints at Leadership Issues

The news that Ford vehicles are the target of the second-biggest car recall in history -- 1.2 million trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans -- is the least of the company's problems these days.

Since CEO Bill Ford unveiled the company's turnaround plan -- dubbed "The Way Forward" -- in January, Ford has taken several steps backward.

Its share of the U.S. car market has fallen from 17.4 to 15 percent, pushing the No. 2 automaker into third place this month behind Toyota. And the company's stock price has tumbled as well -- down 13.5 percent in just six months.

"The way forward is not the way forward at all," said Pete Morici, professor of business at the University of Maryland.

Many lay the blame on Bill Ford and the Ford family for mismanaging the company's legacy.

"Many people do not believe Bill Ford would have his current job if his name were not on the building," said Csaba Chetta, editor at Car and Driver magazine.

Morici agreed. "It's an absolute national tragedy that an industrial icon like this one, so important to the employment prospects of the Midwest, is being handled as a family hobby," he said.

The Ford family controls 40 percent of the auto company's stock. Analysts said management has not moved quickly enough to get labor and production costs under control, and that the company needs to become less dependent on big trucks to make money.

But the crisis is so deep that Ford is reviewing all options, including the possible sale of prize acquisition Jaguar, among others.

"I do think there is a clock ticking on the current management, said automotive analyst John Casesa.

Analysts said that with $24 billion of cash in the bank, Ford can continue to lose money and stay in business, but not indefinitely.

Ford told ABC News in a written statement that it has no plans to change the leadership of the company. And as for losing its No. 2 standing to Toyota, it said, "We will not be distracted by a sales race when we have more important matters at hand."

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