By on March 3, 2011

That’s right, the Executive Chairman of America’s only automaker to have never taken a bailout just raised concerns about the problem of selling too many cars. It’s not as if he doesn’t have a point… it’s just little like listening to Charlie Sheen leading an AA meeting.

After all, William Clay Ford Jr might see a nightmare in a world clogged with cars, but his employees happen to be fairly fired up about the fact that Ford Motor Company is selling lots of cars and making a good deal of money right now (as he pays them to do). And why bring up the existential endgame scenario for your industry if you don’t have a solution for it beyond vague technological bromides and a government fix? Because Ford is about “making people happy,” and not selling cars? Mr Mulally, would you please claim your lost child at the ECO:nomics conference lost and found?

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24 Comments on “Bill Ford On The Global Traffic Jam...”


  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    There are two subjects here.  One is the whole issue of continuing proliferation of private motor vehicles.  The other is that a captain of that industry seems to not be wearing blinders.

    It’s common for electicity utilities to have programs to encourage less electricity consumption.  Or pubs cutting off people who are already drunk.  What’s so strange about that?

    It’s actually refreshing to see one of the top minds in the car business is fully aware of such issues, rather than denying them as, for example, the tobacco industry did/does.  Moving people around in private cars is a very inefficient way of doing things, and drains off a disastrous amount of capital that could much better be spent elsewhere. 

    It’s ironic to see how advanced Ford’s thinking is compared to a lot of motorheads.

  • avatar

    I’m glad he’s bringing this up. But I wish he’d put in a plug for family planning, at this time when a lot of republican legislators are trying to defund planned parenthood, as well as family planning programs abroad. The global population, which will soon top 7 billion, is projected to grow 2-2.5 billion by 2050, to 9-9.5 billion. The total population was only 2.5 billion in 1950. It’s nuts.
    Of course, in our country, population 308 million, the major contributor to the projected 130 million population growth by 2050 is immigration. There, the Democrats are the problem–although not all of them.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Some people see babies as just another mouth to feed, while others see them as problem solvers.  I choose the latter. Lucky for you, someone else agrees with me.

  • avatar
    twotone

    The core issue is not too many cars, it’s too many people.
    Not enough food and water — no.
    Not enough jobs — no.
    Not enough, energy, money, etc. — no.
    Too many people — yes.
    This planet does not need, nor can it support, 7B people. No one wants to address this core problem facing humanity.
     

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I heard this in 1973 when the population was 3 billion.  Which 4 billion would you like to eliminate, since the planet ‘does not need, nor can it support, 7 billion people’?

      The answer is always ‘someone else’, when – if it’s truly a matter of resource consumption – it should be us.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Actually, scientists estimate that if farmland is efficiently used, and excluding seafood and further advances in foodstock strains, that the planet can support at least 8.9 billion people on a vegetarian diet.  The world’s population might exceed that, if we can avoid pandemics, mass starvation in heavily populated areas dependent on food imports, or mankind’s favorite form of population control, war.  The only benign population control measure that works is prosperity. People have fewer kids when they feel prosperous enough to buy dishwashers, HDTVs… and cars.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    I like Bill Ford and his progressive thinking a lot.  However, his concern will be countered by fossil fuel depletion by mid-century.  Light sweet crude oil (the very best grade) production has already peaked, and output will diminish every year from here on out.  No other fuel will run a car-based society like we’re accustomed.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      There is no evidence that oil comes from fossils.  Titan, a moon of Saturn, has more hydrocarbons on it than the entire Earth: http://www.universetoday.com/12800/titan-has-hundreds-of-times-more-liquid-hydrocarbons-than-earth/  That stuff didn’t come from dinosaurs and plants.

      We’ve been ‘running out of oil’ since 1973, and yet the price for gasoline in real dollars remains steady or low, in spite of higher taxation against it: http://www.randomuseless.info/gasprice/gasprice.html  Market rules still generally apply, even with the subsidies and other manipulations of the oil industry.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      gslippy, we have not “been running out of oil since 1973.”  Since that time huge fields in the North Sea and Prudhoe Bay were developed and put on line with the result that production worldwide increased.  Until 2006 when the peak was hit.  Perhaps that along with the huge amount of money the US spends every year keeping the oil markets and shipping lanes free is what has kept oil and gasoline relatively cheap.  No more.  Also, where do you think oil comes from if not from decayed fossils?  The earth’s creamy nougat center?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @getacargetacheck:

      Of course more oil has been found over the last several decades, but there is more to be found.  We already know about oil that we’re not permitted to extract – it’s there.  Production will increase when treehuggers relax regulations against extracting it.

      “where do you think oil comes from if not from decayed fossils?  The earth’s creamy nougat center?”  Basically, yes – from a combination of chemistry, pressure, temperature, and time – things which other places in the universe have also.  H & C aren’t just for Earth only.

    • 0 avatar
      cardeveloper

      Peak oil is happening and it’s a very real occurrence… whether you believe that oil is a self renewing resource, or a byproduct of long past source, we are drawing down the reserves.  Used to be it was easy to pump out of the ground, now we have to drill under 10,000 feet of water to find new sources.  It’s getting exponentially expensive to retrieve the oil.  I highly recommend the entire Chris Martenson video’s but especially video 17a which is available on youtube.  It’s eye opening and SCARY.

    • 0 avatar
      MoppyMop

      Titan, a moon of Saturn, has more hydrocarbons on it than the entire Earth

      Titan also has an atmosphere that is part methane.  We don’t have that luxury here, so if you want more oil than what’s here you’re going to be waiting a while.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I have plenty of hope for renewable bio-fuel.  Yes, currently our corn based ethanol is a waste of money and resources, but Brazil makes bio-fuel work with sugarcane based ethanol.  Bacteria and algae derived fuels are just beginning to be studied in depth, and biodiesel holds a lot of potential.

    • 0 avatar
      MoppyMop

      Yes there’s a lot of potential in biologically based renewables – what I was taking a shot at is the ridiculous idea that oil will just regenerate on a relatively quick timescale without the need for any sort of carbon source and without requiring any more effort from us beyond drill, baby, drill.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @cardeveloper: One reason we have to drill 10,000 feet for oil is that drilling closer to shore has been banned by zealous regulation.  If the Deepwater Horizon eruption had occurred in shallow water near the shore, it would have been capped much, much sooner.

      The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” applies here, until a disaster happens.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The fewer people, the more driving the remaining ones can do.   That’s the best reason I’ve heard yet for limiting population growth.

  • avatar

    this kind of forward thinking and perspective comes from having a Chairman who is not also trying to function as CEO. as witnessed at GM under Wagoner, having one person attempting to do both jobs is a recipe for failure. of course, the General hasn’t yet learned that lesson and why Akerson is making blunder after blunder.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Ford’s stint as chairman/CEO was largely an unsuccessful one.  But he wasn’t a “bad” CEO and, to his great credit, he knew when to hang it up and find someone more capable.  Perhaps that’s the kind of foresight that comes from having your family name on the building.  He doesn’t fit the mold of a Detroit executive – he’s the polar opposite of his uncle – and that likely saved the company.
       
      Meanwhile, Akerson is a disaster in the making.  Wagoner wasn’t a good CEO, in the sense that he just wasn’t equipped to turn around the broken corporate culture that created him.  But at least he understood the system, what worked and what didn’t.   And even he was smart enough to bring Lutz in to improve the products.  Henderson was more of the same, perhaps a little more shrewd.  But Akerson?  he’s desperately put his mark on a company and an industry he doesn’t have a clue about.  And he’s going to end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Years from now, I think Wagoner, Henderson and even Roger Smith will look brilliant in comparison.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Bill Ford’s pretty well known as an environmentalist and champion of liberal causes.  That’s ironic coming from the chairman of one of the world’s most prominent carmakers.  But admittedly, he has a point.  Long term, none of this is sustainable.  However, down the road, too much traffic is going to be the least of our problems.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    This is exactly the kind of muddled thinking that got Billy into trouble when he was running with Jac Nasser.
    The best thing about Ford’s “advanced thinking” is that he seems speaking out of both sides of his mouth. To say that Moving people around in private cars is a very inefficient way of doing things is hilarious when your selling the number one gas sucker in America: the Ford Pick up truck.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      There are quite a few vehicles whose fuel economy is worse than the F-150.  In fact, amongst full size pickups, the F-150 range currently has the best fuel economy.  Yes, it outsells everything else out there, but a lot of those sales are to people who need the capabilities for work.  If fuel prices continue to rise enough to make it uncomfortable for most people to have a pickup as a daily driver when they don’t need it, we’ll see other vehicles replace trucks at the top of the sales charts.  Until then if trucks are what people want to buy, there is no reason Ford shouldn’t continue to supply them.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I just love these self-loathing trust-funders who have never earned a penny in their life.  Of course you’ll NEVER see him give his fortune away, stop cashing those “evil” Ford checks, or push his grandfather’s company to stop making cars and lay people off in order to avert this “crisis”.  Thank goodness for Ford stockholders this incompetent “lucky sperm” stepped down as CEO, he almost destroyed the company when he was at the helm.
     
    For someone in the car business to worry about selling too many cars because of global traffic jams is beyond ridiculous.  The automobile has been a WONDERFUL thing for our quality of life of Americans, and will also be for developing countries.  If certain parts of the world get too crowded for efficient use of cars, people will not buy cars and instead use other forms of transportation (subway, bus, rail, etc).  That’s why so few residents own cars in densely populated urban areas.
     
    Do you really think people are just going to keep driving cars if a 10 mile commute takes 5 hours?  Most people are smart enough to know when a car makes their lives better, and when it doesn’t.  We really don’t need brilliant visionaries like Bill Ford to figure this out for the world.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    America’s only automaker to have never taken a bailout
     
    That comment is raw meat for RF.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    “There are quite a few vehicles whose fuel economy is worse than the F-150.”
    Yea, but none sell in the volume of the F-150. And 90% of the pickup trucks in my community carry nothing heavier than one slightly overweight driver.
    “Until then if trucks are what people want to buy, there is no reason Ford shouldn’t continue to supply them.”
    Spoken like a true Ford Truck salesman.

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