Remarks by Mark Fields at the Car Management Briefing Seminar “The New Industry Emerges”

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Thank you, David.  Good morning, everyone. 

It’s great to be back in Traverse City … among so many thought-leaders … thinking and talking about where our industry is headed.

Inflection point:  We’ve all heard the phrase, but do we understand it?

This is an inflection point for the global auto industry as well as American manufacturing.

We are slowly starting to emerge from one of the most economically challenging periods of the past century.

Competitive forces and the rules of the game have changed, perhaps forever.

We are living through history.

And, as our conference title rightly suggests, a new auto industry is emerging.

For me, this has been the most exhilarating time in my 20-plus years in the business … because today, we stand at the threshold of a revolution, where the automotive industry is front-and-center at the epicenter of three critical issues shaping the globe:  the economy, energy and the environment.

As an industry, we are challenged like never before:

  • There are real concerns about U.S. competitiveness as well as our industry’s long-standing dominance in providing jobs for every-day people who just want to work.

    For the first time in many of our professional lives, some are asking:  Can American manufacturers truly compete in a global economy?

  • At the same time, many are concerned about the availability and affordability of fuel … an especially topical issue these days.
  • Plus, the scientific community worries about the impact of CO2 emissions.

Serious challenges.

Serious opportunities.

How we collectively answer these challenges will not only help determine the speed and size of our recovery … it also will determine our quality of life going forward.  And our children’s.  And our grandchildren’s.

Because no economy anywhere in the world … since the industrial revolution … has been strong without a strong manufacturing base.

That really came alive for me when I lived in the U.K. during the early part of this decade.

Banking was really starting to boom in London, and more manufacturers continued leaving the country … looking for lower-cost places to base.

Not many noticed.  At the time, even fewer people cared.

London was becoming the new New York.

The party was going to last forever … and people thought the service-based economy would do just fine.

It reminded me of one of my favorite Henry Ford quotes:  “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”

He was right.  And we’d better listen.

When American ingenuity is only synonymous with Silly Bands and mp3 files, it’s a warning.

Henry’s vision … and his beliefs about business … are what drove me to become part of this industry fresh out of business school 21 years ago:  We make things.

Not just any things … small, medium and large … cars, utilities and trucks … that give people all over the world freedom … that improve their quality of life … can create profitable growth for all of us … and drive the world economy.

As a global industry, we now have a unique opportunity to focus not just on our own balance sheets … but to come together around a collective vision to contribute to:

  • Economic growth
  • Energy independence and
  • Environmental sustainability

No single company or industry can do all of this alone.  Issues this large call for true systems solutions requiring true collaboration and partnerships like we have never known.

As a global society, we need to come together for real and lively discussion
about these critical issues and decide what we are going to do to solve them.

And as automakers, we need to work together even more closely with:

  • Our union partners
  • Suppliers
  • Governments
  • Public institutions
  • Academia
  • Energy partners and
  • New technology and software manufacturers

We need innovation at the clock-speed of Silicon Valley, prioritizing technology that will make our customers’ lives better.  This includes delivering break-through innovations to address the critical issues that affect us all.

In the next 20 years, for instance, the number of vehicles in the world will double from 1 billion to 2 billion. 

The demand for fuel from all forms of transportation will grow by 45 percent. 

Meanwhile, the world’s supply of oil that can be relatively easily and inexpensively located and captured is shrinking.

And all the while, scientists caution that we need to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to avoid a rise in temperatures.  That means dramatically reducing emissions from all man-made sources – including automobiles.

Technology can help us solve these challenges … and, at the same time, create profitable growth and revitalize our economy.

That’s what Ford is working to do.

Several years ago, we came together around a commitment to be best-in-class in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value. 

Today, our truly global Product Development team allows us to fully use our research and development resources so we can introduce new technology to customers at lower cost and a faster pace.

A lot of Ford’s new technology is aimed at improving safety and convenience for our customers.  Our world-first production rear inflatable seat belts and SYNC technology are two quick examples.

A majority of our R&D efforts, though, are aimed at fuel economy leadership.

Consumers aren’t always worried about saving the planet, but they always want to save at the pump.

Ford’s commitment is to provide affordable fuel economy for millions of people, and we’re doing that with fuel-saving technologies across a wide range of vehicles: 

  • Our EcoBoost engine technology, which uses direct injection and turbo-charging to deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy and 15 percent better emissions, will be available on 90 percent of our product nameplates by 2013.
  • We expect to produce approximately 1.5 million EcoBoost engines globally by that same year, which is roughly 200,000 more than we originally expected.
  • We have more fuel-saving six-speed transmissions on the road than any other manufacturer today – and more are on the way.
  • We’re already the largest domestic producer of hybrid vehicles, and we’re on track to deliver an aggressive plan to bring five new electrified vehicles to market by 2012. 
  • The first will be the battery electric Transit Connect this year.  The Focus Electric will be introduced in 2011.  And in 2012, we’ll deliver two next-generation hybrids and a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

The even better news?

Ford is investing nearly $1 billion to build those vehicles and the battery packs that power them.  Many of those jobs will be located right here in Michigan, including some jobs that are being relocated from Mexico.

That’s right … we’re bringing jobs home to America.

Why?

Not just because we believe in the skill and dedication of American workers … but because the State of Michigan and our partners in the UAW have been working with us … helping us find new ways for all of us to become even more competitive.

Governor Granholm and her team have been working with us on incentives and tax credits.

The UAW has worked with closely on a more competitive agreement that helped us create the business case for moving more work back to Ford facilities … and back to America.

Because of this partnership … this willingness to find new ways to be competitive in the global arena … Ford is on track to bring approximately 1,975 jobs back to Ford workers … and many of them back to America … between 2008 and 2012.

This is over 25 percent more than the number we committed to as part of our 2007 national labor agreement with the UAW.

How’s that for working together?

This is the result of an inflection point Ford and the union had a few years ago.

Now, we talk regularly … consistently.  We are open and honest.  Union leaders know our business as well as we do.  All of us come to the table routinely – not just when we have big issues.

We are committed to our relationship with the UAW, just as Ford remains committed to American manufacturing.

Since 2008, we have already moved approximately 1,340 jobs back to workers at 24 of our U.S. manufacturing facilities.  This work previously was done by suppliers … and some of it was done outside of the U.S.

Today, Ford’s American workers are on track to:

  • Produce transmission gears in Sharonville, Ohio
  • Put together moon roof sub-assemblies and instrument panels for our new Focus at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne
  • Produce next-generation electric drive transaxles at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights and
  • Assemble battery packs for our next-generation hybrid-electric vehicles at our Rawsonville Plant … just to name a few.

And there’s more to come.

We are committed to bring another 635 jobs back to Ford in nine of our plants by 2012.

Could there be more?  We’ll look at it. 

Ultimately, the most competitive partner will win the business.  And when we talk about competitiveness, we’re talking about cost and quality.

We are proud of Ford’s five straight years of quality improvement – and becoming the only non-luxury brand to break into the top five of J.D. Power’s most recent Initial Quality Study.  We are proud, but not satisfied.

Greater collaboration and even more innovation are key elements to Ford’s success going forward – whether we’re talking about delivering top quality, fuel economy, safety or smart technology innovations on our products … our plan for creating a strong business and profitable growth for all … or Ford’s contributions to making a Better World.

And with your partnership … your collaboration … your innovation, all of us can truly shape our industry for the future and, again, provide real contributions to:

  • Economic growth
  • Energy independence and
  • Environmental sustainability

This is an inflection point for the global auto industry as well as American manufacturers.

Are we going to let the world wonder … and question … if U.S. manufacturers have what it takes to compete in the global arena?

Or are we going to make a conscious choice … to not be victims of a difficult economy … of a changing landscape … and to find new ways to collaborate … innovate … and compete?

I, for one, want young people today to view jobs in manufacturing as something to aspire to as opposed to settle for.

And I never want America to be viewed as some other countries … countries that time and industrialization have passed by.

Neither does the Ford team.  This is one of the reasons we’re working so hard to deliver our plan … and profitable growth for all of our stakeholders.  That motivation is helping to drive our progress.

It’s up to you to decide …

Will you be part of the solution?  Will you … will your company … help restore the automotive sector’s industrial might?  And will you help us return American manufacturing to the global forefront … helping people the world over realize that we are still capable of being the best and most competitive in the world?

Your answer … and our collective efforts … will help shape America for
decades to come.

Thank you.

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