In an interview with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller, outgoing Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) CEO, Alan Mulally said he plans to continue to advise his successor Mark Fields and remain in touch with the company after he steps down next month, “I’m going to stay close to Ford going forward…I’ve fallen in love with Ford, it’s a great company…I’ll maintain many of the great relationships I have.”

 

On Ford’s future, Mulally told Miller, “We’re going to continue to see a very large migration into the larger cities worldwide…Personal mobility and integrated transportations systems, I think that’s going to continue to be very, very important. And Ford, as a transportation technology company, has such a great opportunity to serve in that way.”

Highlights:

Alan Mulally: I’ve Fallen in Love With Ford

Alan Mulally: Seeing Large Migration to Cities Worldwide

Alan Mulally: Vision, Strategy, Talent Key to Turnaround

Alan Mulally: Expect More Hydrogen Cars Long Term

What Ford’s Mulally Says About GM’s Safety Issues

On always having a smile on his face:

 

“Well, I think if you love what you do and then you do what you love you’re always gonna have a smile on your face.  And to your point, when you do really important things, things aren’t always gonna go really well.  So in a way, you look at ’em as an issue, or you look at them as a gem.  It’s a gem that you had a chance to understand this issue, and now you can work it and make it part of the plan.”

 

 

On the pros and cons working direct owners:

 

Well, you know, clearly it’s been an honor to serve two American and global icons with Boeing and with Ford.  You think of Boeing and Bill Boeing, and safe and efficient transportation around, and Henry Ford, and safe and efficient transportation. But the thing that both of those companies have in common is making world class products that provide safe and efficient transportation.  And also run a very healthy business, also contributing to a better world.  So the ownership in both the cases has absolutely been laser focused on creating great companies. I don’t see any difference between the goals and objectives and the vision of both Ford and Boeing.  They’re both absolutely committed to safe and efficient transportation.”

 

 

On coming to Ford when it was having problems:

 

Well, when Bill Ford first approached me, I studied Ford.  I did my due diligence especially focused on the people.  And the thing that amazed me, Matt, was the quality and the depth and the breadth of the talent at Ford.  And I knew that I needed to tap into that.  I needed all that domain knowledge. And if I could tap into that, pull ’em all together around a compelling vision and this comprehensive strategy, then we could work together on the relentless implementation.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Ford is so talented and so process oriented that when we came together around the vision then we went to work together.”

 

 

On whether he imagined turning around Ford in the successful company it is today:

 

“I never had a doubt.  This is a fantastic company, 111 years of innovation and service with safe and efficient transportation.  And the talent that we have.  And what was clear at the time was that we were a house of brands.  We were very complicated.  We operated regionally.  So if we could just bring everybody together around a clear vision together, I knew we’d be on our way with the implementation.”

 

“Matt, I think that I am more convinced than ever, after doing this for 45 years, in the power of a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy, and then a management system where you manage the implementation of it relentlessly.  And all of us contribute to that, and we all want to be part of it.  We all want to know what the issues are and we all want to help each other.  And I think that works in profit, nonprofit; any organization that is trying to deliver something really important.”

 

 

On which Ford product would he consider his greatest legacy:

 

“I think it’s the complete family of vehicles.  As you know we made a commitment (as far as the Ford brand that we’d make a complete family of vehicles small, medium, and large cars, utilities, and trucks.  And that you’d look at that lineup today, the Focus, the Fiesta, the Fusion, the Taurus, the Mustang, the Escape, the Edge, the Flex, the Explorer, the Expedition, the Ranger, the F-series, the E-series, that trans that family is the finest family of any automobile company in the world.”

 

“I love every one of them.  Everyone is made for a different consumer use and taste.  And to your point, every night I get a chance to drive a different vehicle.  I’ll either drive the new Ford vehicle, or I get a chance to drive all the competitors’ vehicles, because we made a brand promise that everybody vehicle would be best in class.  So the entire garage is filled with our competitors’ products so we ensure that the Ford vehicles are best in class.”

 

 

On what allowed Ford to build better cars:

 

“This complete family of best-in-class commitment, best-in-class vehicle, this is a commitment that we made to the consumer.  And we also took a point of view of what was really important to the consumer:  quality, the functionality fuel efficiency, low CO2, safety, really smart design like SYNC, and of course being affordable. And when we decided that we were going to be best in class, and those characteristics for the consumer, then that just unleashed all of the innovation inside Ford.  So all of it, the design-enabling technology, the fuel efficiency, all of that has resulted in this world-class innovation.”

 

 

On SYNC:

 

“SYNC is a fantastic innovation.  We’ve not had any problems at all with SYNC.  The issue we had is when we went to MyFord Touch and we offered the consumer four different ways of interfacing with the customer, whether it was test screen, whether it was a five- or six-pos– -position controller, or whether it was voice.  And what we found outta that was that what the consumers really like and they find the most useful is voice control. So that’s why we’re focused in on that, and simplifying MyFord Touch.  But SYNC is a tremendous innovation because it allows the drivers to use voice and keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, and actually a better driver… We’ll continue to improve all of the capability year after year in every vehicle.”

 

 

On E.P.A testing:

 

“Well, we are absolutely committed to very best-in-class fuel efficiency and CO2.  And really, we found an error in the way we modeled the aerodynamics.  And so we’ve corrected that; now we do the dynamometer tests and redoing the fuel mileage.  But we are absolutely committed.  Anytime we find anything in our process that needs to be improved, we’ll do it decisively and we’ll do it quickly.”

 

 

On how involved he gets when various issues arise:

 

“Well, the neatest thing about Ford is, as you have reported, is that we have an entire team that is always at the table.  And to your point, every Thursday we review all the businesses around the world.  But we also review all the skill teams around the world, and what the issues are.  So we together, collectively, know everything that’s going on.  And any area that’s off– off-plan, then we make it a special tension and we go work on it decisively together… This team created not only the product strategy but the manufacturing plan, and also the production plan.  And also the business plan review process.  So they’ve had wonderful success.  There’ve been– it’s been– has served everybody well.  And I think Mark is going to continue those major processes going forward.”

 

 

On whether Mark Fields will make any changes:

 

“Well, Mark and the entire team, as we’ve talked about, created the process that created the strategy.  And we’re just getting started.  We’re serving all the markets around the world with this complete family of best-in-class vehicles.  We’re restructuring Europe.  We’re going to be profitable next year.  U.S. is doing well.  We’re the fastest-growing brand in Asia Pacific, led by India and China.  So there’s lots of opportunity for us to continually profitably grow this great corporation.”

 

 

On staying involved with ‘loved’ Ford:

 

“I think I’ll maintain many of the great relationships I have.  And I have fallen in love with Ford.  It’s a great company and it’s so important on what it does for the economy, in energy independence and security, environmental sustainability.  So I’m going to stay close to Ford going forward… Mark would like to call me and I said, ‘Absolutely.  Anytime.'”

 

 

On what his next plans are:

 

“I really haven’t spent very much time on it because the focus that I’ve wanted to have is on this orderly transition, not only of the leadership team, but also of the strategy and also the management system.  So I’ve had the fortune to go all around the world, visit all of our operations, all of our fantastic employees, the dealers, the suppliers.  And thank them, congratulate them, and wish them the very best.  And share with them that I have all the confidence in the world that Ford is going to be fantastic going forward, and they are part of something very, very special, and wish them the very best… looking forward to what I might do.  I know that I love to serve.  I know that the world has lots of opportunity for service.  But right now I’ve been focused on this orderly transition at Ford, and I look really forward Matt, to what the future might bring.  And maybe even getting a chance to talk to you every once in a while.”

 

 

On Washington D.C.:

 

“Well, I think Washington is really important.  And the leadership and the public/private partnership to deal with the bigger issues of our days, (the economy, energy independence and security, environmental sustainability) I think that that public/private partnership  working together on the big issues that all of us care about is really, really important.”

 

 

On the biggest problems facing our society:

 

“Well, I think globally it’s economic development and the continuation of that, and including everybody.  And I think also, as you pointed out, I think congestion and pollution are going to be important.  I think we’re going to consider– continue to see a very large migration into the larger cities worldwide. And so that personal mobility and integrated transportation systems, I think that’s going to continue to be very, very important.  And Ford, as a transportation technology company, has– such a great opportunity to serve in that way.”

 

 

On whether ‘being green’ is too expensive:

 

“Well not so much necessarily just being green, but we have regulations that cover all the aspects of transportation, whether it’s quality, fuel efficiency, CO2 safety.  It’s a very regulated environment.  My only encouragement to everybody is it’s a balancing of all of those objectives. Because I would just I think we’d all be disappointed if we ended up not being able to serve a large portion of the market that couldn’t afford Henry Ford’s original vision of safe and fast safe and efficient transportation.  But also being affordable, because it’s such an honor to and a pleasure to be able to sense the freedom that the automobile brings.”

 

 

On whether we are on the verge of a real change in transportation:

“I think that we’re going to see a technology road map that has– improving’ internal combustion engine, both petrol and diesel.  And as we’ve discussed, I think we’re going to see more alternative fuels and biomass fuels.  But also I think we’re going to see more electrification.  I think the majority of it will be hybrids, then plug-in hybrids, and then all-electric, until we can really make a breakthrough in the batteries. And I think a fabulous electric vehicle.  I think also we’ll see more hydrogen vehicles longer term as we bring down the cost of fuel cells, and we get more affordable batteries.  But the really key about electric vehicles is getting the cost of the batteries down, having them be easier to charge in hot and cold temperatures.  And also, getting the size and the weight down, but also the infrastructure in place so we can actually charge them easily.”

 

 

On how key Asia is for Ford:

 

“Well, Asia is terribly exciting and a great opportunity for Ford.  In China alone, Matt, the market for vehicles is going to approach 23 million units this year.  We have about 16 million units in the United States; around 15 million units in Europe.  So clearly, we have 1.3, you know, billion people that are mobilizing. And for us to support them with the best cars and trucks in the world, and system solutions in the bigger cities, is a great opportunity for Ford.  And they love the blue oval.  The Chinese have such respect for history and innovation.  They love Henry Ford, they love what he did for everybody by making it affordable to all of all of us.  So China and Asia Pacific is really an exciting opportunity.”

 

 

On whether we are getting closer to a Ford were all vehicles will be available in all markets:

 

“Absolutely.  And you think about it now we have come so far this last eight years that 85% of the total volume that we produce worldwide, over 6 million vehicles, are off-a nine platforms now.  And on each platform then we have eight, nine, ten, 11 top hats.  So you can get a four-door, a five-door, a wagon, a small SUV.  What– I think that you’re going to be able to have those available everywhere underneath the blue oval.”

 

On his July 2nd plans:

 

“I think what I’d like to do is call you on July 2nd and tell you what I’m thinking about.  And I’m probably going to call you from a Starbucks.”

 

 

On General Motors:

 

Well, I clearly can’t speak for General Motors (NYSE:GM).  But this industry is really important and I think it’s very important that we make progress on the issues that we’re dealing with.  But in Ford’s case, I’m just so pleased the way Ford operates, the respect they have for the process, and the way we stay so aligned with the  process.  And anytime we find any issue, we move on it decisively. A lot of people don’t know this, but any automobile company that has an issue, we review that issue.  We check everything through Ford to make sure we don’t have the same issue.  Because what’s really important is the integrity of this great industry, which is dedicated to safe and efficient transportation.”

Alan Mulally Talks Future, Ford And GM [TRANSCRIPT]