Ford is set to promote Mark Fields, head of Ford’s operations in the Americas, to the newly created post of COO, paving the way for him to succeed Alan Mulally as CEO.
Tag: alan mulally
Ford won’t be following in the footsteps of Renault and other auto makers that have introduced “low cost” brands like Dacia. But the company hasn’t ruled out a model line of cheaper vehicles either.
Contrary to initial reports, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail that the Ford B-Max MPV will be coming to North America after all.
When Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne took the stage over the weekend to honor Lee Iacocca with an induction into the Walter P. Chrysler Legacy circle, he admitted to feeling unworthy of honoring Chrysler’s most famous executive in recent memory, and called Ford’s Alan Mulally and the UAW’s Bob King to help share the honor. And being the business-obsessed type he is, Marchionne wasn’t about to let Mulally get on stage without at least a mention of Ford’s just-announced $2.6b profit. And though the recognition and ensuing awkward “moment” helped add to the usual Detroit gala hometown booster vibe, it also highlighted the fact that Chrysler still has yet to announce its Q2 results.
After four straight profitable quarters, Alan Mulally’s forecast today of a “solidly profitable” 2010 shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But, as Executive Chairman Bill Ford put it to Ford shareholders at the company’s annual meeting [via AP],
It is the very early days in our recovery. We still have a lot of debt
And he’s not kidding. As of the end of Q1 2010, Ford was carrying $34b in debt. And though Ford faces a higher cost of borrowing because of its staggering debts, Bill Ford was clear that he wouldn’t trade places with Ford’s Detroit competitors, which cleaned out their balance books, at the expense of government bailouts and accompanying PR problems. After all, while GM and Chrysler were rebuilding, Ford managed to outperform both of them last year by gaining sales and market share. And Ford’s leadership sees that momentum carrying forward into next year.
With about $34.4b in debt and a selling rate that’s being propped up by incentives and fleet sales, Ford ain’t out of the woods yet by a long shot. But compared to the ongoing debacles in the RenCen and Auburn Hills, things are looking downright sunny under the sign of the Blue Oval. Most of the credit for that tends to go to CEO Alan Mulally, who left Boeing to assume control at Ford in 2006. There are people who want him gone. (Read More…)
For all the praise and positive comparisons he earns, Ford’s Alan Mulally still refuses to man up and acknowledge that at least one of his firm’s brands is as meaningful to the American consumer as Kaiser or Cord. And it’s not like Mulally can just ignore the brand’s slide into ignominy: after all, people notice when you never introduce new products for a brand that was wholly comprised of cheap rebadges in the first place. Well, Inside Line noticed, and they cornered Mulally at the Washington Auto Show to get his take on the brand with no purpose.
“The plan right now is (to develop) Ford, Lincoln and Mercury,” Mulally answered.
He said Ford is working to more effectively position Mercury with smaller vehicles that occupy the void between the mainstream Ford brand and Lincoln, which directly targets the luxury-premium market. “That’s our plan — to continuously improve the Mercury and Lincoln brands,” Mulally said.
But after a little more discussion, Mulally felt compelled to reiterate: “That’s the plan right now.”
Despite Ford’s surging stock price, new models and rising customer confidence there’s always been that one bone of contention which had divided peoples’ opinion: debt. $35 billion of it. Though they’ve tried to restructure it, selling new shares and raising cash throughout 2009, it’s still a problem. But apparently it’s becoming less of a problem. ABC news report that Fitch Ratings upgraded their assessment of the risk of Ford defaulting on its debt obligations, basing their optimistic view on a better economic environment, the company’s stronger margins, increased market share and cash position. Oh yes, and a small matter of $5.9b in federal DOE retooling loans [full Fitch release here]. Ford’s Credit unit also received a hearty slap on the back from Fitch because of its improving access to capital, as its rating was raised from “CCC” to “B-”. But let’s not get carried away. While this is a positive step in Alan Mulally’s vision of a sustainable Ford, the rating still qualifies Ford debt as non-investment grade.
Despite his genial, affable manner, Alan Mulally is a businessman and, by all accounts, a businessman not to be crossed with. One story goes, when he first started with Ford, he let them know, in the clearest possible terms, “Everybody says you can’t make money off small cars,” he said. “Well, you’d better damn well figure out how to make money, because that’s where the world is going.” Long protected from the brutal rationalisation of the global market, Australia might be about to get a taste of the man’s darker side as he attempts to drag Ford’s Australian ops into the 21st Century.
GM’s New Chairman and CEO, Ed Whitacre may not be talking to the press about his plans for the state-owned automaker, but he’s talking to someone. Reuters reports that Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, has already had a chat with GM’s chairman and CEO, Ed Whitacre. Mulally didn’t disclose what they talked about, but did mention his reasons as to why they had the chat. “You want to be supportive because we have a lot of industry issues that we work together,” Mulally said, “He’s reaching out just the way that I did when I came in.”
Car guys know exactly what’s wrong with GM: car guys like them aren’t running the show. Otherwise, every Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac would look “great” (no need to be more specific) and dust the competition. Hence Bill Ford’s decision to hire Alan Mulally to take over as CEO came as a real disappointment. Obviously, he would have done better hiring anyone who truly knows and loves cars better than a Lexus-driving Boeing executive.
Sorry, CarNut4CEO. It just wasn’t so in Ford’s case. And it’s just not so in GM’s case, either.
Ford’s announcement today that the new global Ranger won’t be coming to the US sure seems like a head-scratcher. Though Automotive News [sub] quotes Ford’s Alan Mulally as saying the Ford Ka won’t be sold stateside because “our view is that Fiesta is about the smallest vehicle that we think will be a real success in the United States,” there’s no similar reason given for the absence of a modern compact pickup from Ford’s lineup. Or anyone else’s lineup, for that matter. The Canyon/Colorado are going out of production since the Shreveport, LA, plant is part of Old GM liquidation Corp. The Dodge, er, make that Ram Dakota will die next year according to the new plans at Chrysler. The Tacoma is no longer properly compact, and Volkswagen’s Brazilian “Robust” won’t be coming here either. Hell, even the latter-day El Camino was stillborn. But if my flu-addled memory serves me correctly, didn’t compact pickups help pull the US market out of one of its last great downturns? Why is it that nobody is giving this segment the time of day?