DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally says a new Taurus sedan will debut next year.

“The new Taurus we’ll be receiving next year is the one we should have made originally, and it’s just fabulous,” he says at the Automotive News World Congress here.

In a discussion with reporters following his speech, which largely concentrated on Ford’s strategy to integrate its global product lineup, Mulally declines to reveal details about the new Taurus, saying he “probably said too much” already.

While Mulally generally is pleased with the performance of the Taurus and Taurus X cross/utility vehicle that shares its platform, sales have not picked up since the names were changed from the Five Hundred and Freestyle, respectively, last February.

In December, Taurus sales were 6,312 vs. the 6,689 Five Hundreds delivered in like-2006, Ward’s data shows. The Taurus X fared a bit better, with December sales of 4,679 surpassing the 3,290 Freestyle deliveries in like-2006.

Meanwhile, Mulally expresses optimism over the Federal Reserve’s decision today to cut the federal funds rate to 3.5%.

“I think the cut is going to be positive, but I also like the (ongoing) dialogue toward all the pieces of the economy, because there’s a lot of elements that can be worked,” he says. “But to move decisively like this is a positive thing for all of us.”

Mulally says he likes some of the economic stimulus packages being bandied about in Washington, noting it’s refreshing to see the nation’s leadership “dealing with the (economic) situation.”

Meanwhile, Mulally reveals details involving additional plant closings and personnel reductions will be released Jan. 24, along with the auto maker’s fourth-quarter earnings.

Regarding Ford’s ongoing efforts to pare back its U.S. dealer ranks, Mulally says the glut is centered in urban areas, noting the auto maker has the right number of stores in rural regions of the country.

Ford’s plan on thinning its dealer ranks largely will be completed through attrition, Mulally says, nothing that under-performing stores will be the ones to be shuttered.

“We deal with reality; the (sales) data tells you everything,” he says.

Mulally says he was taken aback by Ford’s poor relationship with its suppliers after coming from the Boeing Co., where suppliers play an integral part in the aero giant’s success.

“Having very good relationships with suppliers is key,” he says. “One of my highest priorities is to take our working relationship with suppliers to a whole new level of productivity.”

Most of the friction stems from Ford’s volume decline, the CEO says.

“We were sized for about 25% market share, so we have a little bit of an issue,” Mulally says. “And we may have fed that complexity down through our supply chain, and we’ve talked about products that didn’t turn out the way they were talked about.

“We have significant overcapacity in our industry, and when you’re in a situation like that it becomes very stressful for everybody. So the most important thing to do is talk about what real volume is on each product and to take complexity out and simplify.”

bpope@wardsauto.com