By Bernie Woodall and Joseph White
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co <F.N> will seek to raise about $2 billion in long-term debt, a senior executive said on Monday, the first time the company is endeavoring to increase its automotive debt in nearly four years.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas region, said the funds would largely go for investment in new technology including electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles, and mobility efforts such as ride-sharing and ride-hailing.
"It’s an opportunistic time," Hinrichs told Reuters in an interview on Monday morning. "It’s a supportive marketplace for long-term debt given where rates are, and we want to make sure that throughout the cycle of the industry we have the flexibility to do what we need to do and want to do, especially in the emerging part of the business.”
More details on the debt, including the final size of the issue, were due to be released later on Monday, Ford said.
Hinrichs, who has led Ford's Americas region for four years, said Ford has the manufacturing flexibility to make more of its Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs as the two models undergo their first total makeover in 14 years.
Hinrichs did not say how many of the new models it hopes to sell. "Suffice to say it is a big opportunity for us," Hinrichs said of the new versions of the large SUVs.
General Motors Co <GM.N> has dominated the large SUV part of the U.S. auto business in recent years, although Ford invented the segment about two decades ago.
This year, through November, GM's four large SUVs have outsold Ford's two entries more than 3-to-1. But Ford's big SUV sales are up 33 percent this year, to GM's rise of 18 percent.
It is too early, Hinrichs said, to determine the impact of any changes that may come to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which President-elect Donald Trump has said he will renegotiate.
The debt issue would have two segments -- one maturing in 10 years and the other in 30 years, according to a Ford filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Last week, as the U.S. unemployment rate showed a nine-year low, economists said the path is clear for an interest rate hike this month by the U.S. Federal Reserve. [nLNN2NEC8H]
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Joseph White; editing by W Simon and Diane Craft)