DEARBORN - Last week, Executive Chairman Bill Ford joined the Ford Retired Engineering Executives (FREE) club as the guest speaker at the Dearborn Country Club for their monthly luncheon.
Ford discussed the state of the business with the retiree group – not only the Ford brand, but the future of Lincoln as well.
“We believe that we can and will credibly make Lincoln a premium brand – but it does require a complete rethinking, which starts by identifying Ford and Lincoln as separate and unique brands.”
Ford said that right now he is having the best time of his career. And a lot of that comes from the success of the team working together in the company.
“It’s wonderful to see how the team is all working together. Like you, I’ve seen a lot of different politics and personalities in my 30-plus-year career. In the past, there were a lot of conflicting agendas and egos.
“Now, it’s not just diminished, it is actually gone. When issues come up, there are no heroes or villains. There’s no finger pointing. When we have an issue, we accept it and we collectively figure out what we are going to do about it.”
As the team continues to move forward, there will be challenges ahead, Ford said.
“The introduction of new technology is just one of those issues. We’ve placed big bets on electrified vehicles, but no one really knows how quickly customers will embrace them; much of it is not in our control.
“One of the things we can say is that when the infrastructure is ready, we will be there with the technology – whether that’s electrification, biofuel or hydrogen.”
Another issue on the rise globally is the future of urban transportation. Ford said that as the population looks to increase exponentially by midcentury, transportation within urban centers will be a concern.
“We’re going to have enormous urban centers with 10 million people or more around the world. Most have inadequate infrastructures and can’t handle today’s traffic requirements. What’s going to happen when the population starts doubling and tripling in size? We need to start thinking about how we are going to move around and get from point A to point B.”
Ford also touched on how the company is working to deliver not just great vehicles, but the technology that will make the world a better place.
“I think back to my great-grandfather. People remember him for the Model T, assembly line, $5 a day wage, but really what he brought was freedom to the middle class. He made people’s lives better.
“Prior to the Model T, most people never traveled more than 25 miles from home in their entire lifetime. The Model T really allowed people to choose where they worked, played and also where they lived. That’s our history. Our history is making people’s lives better.
“That, to me, is what we’re all about today,” said Ford.
“Yes, we make cars and trucks and we do it very well. But it’s really about making people’s lives better. And that’s when I think about the future problems, and how we can help solve them.
“And I’m really proud of the team with the progress we’re making on that.”