DETROIT - Sunday was a special day for Ford.
Nearly 2,500 people – Ford employees, retirees and alumni with many accompanied by family members and friends – gathered at Joe Louis Arena for an exclusive preview of the presentations Ford and Lincoln will give to international media this week at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales & Service, began the Lincoln portion of the program by talking about the exciting transformation of the Lincoln brand. The Lincoln news conference is Tuesday morning.
“We understand that for Lincoln to succeed with the current market’s expectations and our luxury clientele we need to literally reinvent every part of our business – from the vehicles to the ownership experience,” he said.
There were audible “oohs” and aahs” from the crowd when the first step towards Lincoln reinvention, the new Lincoln MKZ Concept car, drove onto the stage.
“This is what the future of Lincoln looks like,” said Lincoln Design Director Max Wolff. “It is a fresh new point of view for Lincoln and a vehicle as dramatic as it is elegant.”
“How cool is that!” said Mulally of the MKZ concept when he arrived on stage to begin the Ford portion of the program by talking about the company’s new global brand promise: Go Further.
“Go Further is a promise that explains what everyone can expect from our Ford team,” said Mulally, noting that NAIAS will mark the introduction of the global brand promise to media. “We promise to go further in delivering great products, a strong business and a better world. By staying focused on our One Ford plan, we will deliver on our brand promise.”
After Mulally’s comments, a compelling video showed some of the many ways that Ford employees across the globe are going further with their work and serving their communities – such as developing technology like SYNC and making it accessible to all consumers, building electrified vehicles to conserve precious energy resources and helping build and re-build communities around the world.
Click on images to enlarge view. To see additional images from the event, click here.
“That film reminds me of why I love this company,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “And I’m proud to say there are thousands more Ford people around the world that are doing extraordinary things in their jobs – thinking beyond convention and exceeding expectations.”
Probably one of the most exciting moments of the NAIAS preview came with the introduction of the all-new Ford Fusion, which arrived on stage complete with a colorful laser light show.
“The new Fusion was designed to exceed customer expectations by bringing together everything they like about midsize cars with the technology and design they would never expect,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “It introduces the new face of Ford with quality and craftsmanship customers will see and feel inside and out.”
Employees who attended the show were impressed.
“The Fusion looks great. It’s gorgeous,” said Ariosto Mancini, an employee in Transmission and Driveline Engineering. “I think it’s going to change things. When people see it, they’re all going to be excited by it.”
Bill Garrett, a Ford employee in Electronics, also loved the new Fusion.
“I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of Ford in my whole 32 years with the company than I am right now,” he said. “The Fusion is going to be a great vehicle. I think it’s going to be a killer in the marketplace.”
Ford retiree Tom Bouman was in awe of the Lincoln MKZ Concept car.
“It’s a revolutionary style,” he said. “If produced, I think it would really sell.”
Theo Benson, an employee in Product Development, shared Bouman’s excitement about the MKZ Concept.
“No one expected to see a vehicle that looked that good both inside and out,” he said. “I’m very excited about where Lincoln is headed.”
Ford retiree Ted Keranen said he felt special to be invited to the preview event.
“It’s great to be acknowledged for being a part of the company in the past,” he said. “To dedicate a program like this for us is great. You wouldn’t see that happening in a lot of other companies.”
Christine McGowan, an employee at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant, says inviting employees to the NAIAS preview is a great idea.
“It gives us an opportunity to become familiar with what we have to offer as a company and then we can be better spokespeople for the products that we have,” she said. “It gets us engaged in what we’re doing.”
Ford President of The Americas Mark Fields says “it means everything” to be able to share the NAIAS presentation with Ford employees and retirees before the media and general public see it.
“This is just a great way to appreciate all of our employees and all of the hard work that they do day in and day out,” he said. It’s not something that we have to do. It’s something that we want to do. And you can just feel the energy here. It’s fantastic.”
Fields – who spent well over an hour greeting employees, retirees and their families after the show – says employees are the best spokespeople for the company.
“We can’t expect other people to be more excited about our products and our business than we are, and the best to get everybody engaged is to expose them to it so they can see it up front – touch it, feel it and just feel that energy – so that when they go out and talk to their friends and neighbors they’re really excited and it’s genuine,” he said.
“That’s really the whole intent around this – to get everybody talking about Ford and encourage everybody to be advocates for the company and feel the pride of the Blue Oval,” Fields said.