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Ford to Get Serious about Small Cars

7/24/2008 5:01:56 PM

Tags: Ford, cars, gas prices

Reading this article in The New York Times, I was struck by this example of old-think (trucks, SUVs; entrenched executives) vs. new think (small, efficient cars; relatively new chief executive Alan Mulally) at the notoriously financially troubled Ford: 

As recently as 2004, two-thirds of Ford’s United States sales were of truck-based products. Many people in the company were skeptical that Ford could be profitable with more small cars in the showroom.  

But Mr. Mulally has challenged those notions.  

At a town hall-style meeting this year, he expressed frustration when one employee suggested that making small cars was a money-losing proposition.  

“Why can’t we make money on small cars?” Mr. Mulally said, according to two people in attendance. “Do you think Toyota can’t make money on small cars?”  

At virtually every management meeting, Mr. Mulally would repeatedly refer to charts showing that smaller vehicles constituted 60 percent of the global automotive market.  

Each time an executive suggested that Ford’s future lay in expanding its truck business, Mr. Mulally pulled the charts out.  

“Let’s see, the global share of large vehicles is 15 percent,” he said at one such meeting, according to people in attendance. “And you’re telling me you want to invest more in them?”  

Details are few and far between, thus far, but today Ford announced it is shifting its longstanding focus on trucks and SUVs to small cars and crossover vehicles. The automaker will convert three plants in North America from truck and SUV production to produce six new cars, according to this report.

John Rockhold is a green car enthusiast and Contributing Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find him on .

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