SHANGHAI, China — Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally received a rousing reception from approximately 700 employees as he outlined his vision and provided a company update during a town hall meeting at Asia Pacific and Africa headquarters today.
Mulally discussed the status of Ford’s global operations and also praised the week of exciting announcements in China, which included the news that the Lincoln brand will be coming to China in the second half of 2014.
He was joined by Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing Sales and Service, Bob Shanks, chief financial officer, Raj Nair, group vice president, Product Development, and Robert Brown, vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, and Dave Schoch, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor China.
“The event in Beijing was really neat. We had the chance to show the Lincoln concept car to the journalists and the brand awareness here is phenomenal,” Mulally said.
During his trip to China, Mulally attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a third assembly plant in Chongqing – the largest manufacturing site outside of Michigan – made the Lincoln announcement at a historic 600-year-old temple in Beijing, joined a groundbreaking ceremony for a new plant in Hangzhou, and witnessed China’s approval to restructure Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co. Ltd.
Mulally also discussed business operations around the world.
He said that global economic growth has slowed dramatically, and while the U.S. is recovering from its worst recession ever, the challenges in Europe remain very difficult.
He added, however, that Europe remains an incredible market for Ford.
Mulally said in APA some are worried about a slowdown in the region and in China, but add that economic growth of 7-8 percent in China – compared to 9-11 percent previously – “is fantastic and probably a lot more sustainable.”
“We have two great partners in China, Changan and JMC and with the economic growth here in China, we are definitely not going backwards,” he said. “I think China and Asia Pacific will continue to lead the way, but there is a lot of work to do for growing profitably.”
Asked about his vision for Ford over the next 5-10 years, Mulally said it would continue to be about accelerating Henry Ford’s vision and also rebalancing Ford from a company dominated by large SUVs and trucks in the U.S. to a company which is truly global.
“So my vision is we are going to finish implementing this fantastic plan and serve everybody around the world … so that everybody, everybody gets a chance to appreciate Henry Ford’s original vision,” he said.
Farley and Nair were quizzed about introducing Lincoln to China and how it can compete with strong competitors such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, which already have a strong foothold in the market.
“We really do feel like Lincoln is finally ready to be a compelling choice to all the brands you’ve mentioned because there’s a new opening market here in China,” Farley said, adding that there’s a new emerging customer in China that wants to a more personal experience.
“From the styling of the vehicle, we’ll have centralist athletic graceful styling, from the technology side, it’s not about offering every feature, but offering a real seamless experience to the customer,” said Nair.
During the town hall, Mulally and Hinrichs also recognised the four APA teams who were awarded the President’s Health and Safety Awards:
— Ford of India Manufacturing team for implementing a “Die Bolt Error Proofing” safety improvement in the Ford of India Stamping Operation.
— The Ford of Australia team for implementing a “Pedestrian Exclusion Zone” safety improvement within the Stamping Operations in Geelong.
— The Ford Lio Ho team for implementing an “Employee Personal Health Promotion” program in Manufacturing.
— The Ford Philippines team for implemented a “Health and Wellness Fair” program in Manufacturing.
They also handed out 30 long service awards.