Benzinga Exclusive - Interview with Ford CEO Alan Mulally: Ford Has a Car for Everyone
Welcome to Zing Talk, where Benzinga brings you the biggest names and brightest minds from Silicon Valley to New York City.
Today, Benzinga's Jason Raznick sat down with Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), at the North American International Auto Show.
How are you doing today?
Alan Mulally: I'm doing great.
Things have really picked up at Ford, not only sales but also the stock price, which our listeners are interested in. What do you think, going forward, 2011 is going to be bringing?
Alan Mulally: I think we've shown everybody a glimpse of what 2011 is going to be. One of the things we did was describe the complete family of vehicles: small, medium, large, utilities and trucks.
What we focused on today was the C size, which is like the Focus size, we showed the new platform – the most efficient in the world – and we showed 10 different models off of that. So a four-door, a five-door, a hatchback, a small SUV, a wagon, the ST. Then we showed the electrification of Ford, so you can get a hybrid, which we have led in the United States.
You can also see a plug-in hybrid, which has a little bit bigger battery, and you also can choose an all-electric vehicle, in the C size. So our strategy is to give the power and choice to the consumer so they can choose the vehicle they want depending on the infrastructure, and their charging, and their lifestyle.
How long until that's available?
Alan Mulally: All this year and next.
Really? That quickly?
Alan Mulally: Absolutely. And we're standing in front of the Transit Connect, which is all-electric. So we were the first ones with the all-electric vehicle here.
With gas prices expected to grow, do you see that as the new green market?
Alan Mulally: I think so. The neat thing about the Ford plant is that we wanted to have a very robust portfolio of products that, as energy prices increase we'll have a full portfolio. We want people to still have choices – Ford cars and trucks, whatever works for their lifestyle. And also, no matter what the size of the vehicle is, whether it's a Fiesta, Focus or F-150, every vehicle will be the best in fuel efficiency in its class.
How long do you give a car before you decide if it's a no-go? You come out with a new design, give it 12 months, 18 months, or is it just something with no science to it?
Alan Mulally: I think it's a little more fundamental than that. Every vehicle we have we continuously improve every year. One reason we brought back the Taurus was because that was kind of the old Ford. ‘Cause we had made a couple of them that kind of looked like a football. They didn't sell very well, so we stopped it.
Well, here's a brand where we made seven million Tauruses. They loved the vehicle. It was the number-one vehicle in the United States. So what you're gonna see out of Ford is absolute focus on consistency and purpose. So everyone of those – the Fiesta, the Focus, the Fusion, the Taurus and Mustang and all the way up, every year we're going to improve every one of those and they will stick really close to the customers and do that in a decisive way.
What's really neat is that the consumers around the world have really come together on what's important in quality, fuel efficiency, safety and smart design. Remember when small vehicles used to be cheap and cheerful? Well, now people are making a lifestyle decision by the size of their car. So you're gonna see every vehicle that we make [will] have the same quality, the best fuel efficiency, across the line.
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