Bill Ford Says He Has Some Regrets

“Regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…”

Except that Bill Ford, Executive Chairman at Ford, the family-controlled business, did mention a few of those regrets at a speech he gave at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island in Michigan yesterday. He said he regrets that Ford missed the chance to take the lead on the environment when it could have, regrets not acting more quickly when Ford started it’s recent downward slide, and also rues letting the designs of Ford’s sedans go stale. Regarding the styling of the company’s four-door passenger cars, Ford said, “We didn’t stretch enough in the past few years. I think as we got back into the car business we weren’t perhaps bold enough.” Gosh, you know, Bill, I think you might be on to something there.

More telling was the statement concerning Ford’s missed opportunity to lead out front on environmental concerns. Bill Ford is known for his personal interest in many environmental causes, and the fact that he was unable to influence Ford Motor Company to adopt a more environmentally-friendly product lineup has always been a curiosity to me. If Bill Ford had been able to synch Ford-the-car-company up with his personal beliefs, Ford-the-car-company might find itself in a dramatically different competitive position in 2007.

Bill Ford said a few other things in yesterday’s speech:

He said he hired Alan Mulally because he couldn’t find anyone at Ford that was up to the turnaround challenge. He said he’s been deliberately keeping a low profile since then in order to give Mulally the freedom he needs to do his job.

Stated that Ford’s internal data showed that they were just about even with Honda and Toyota on quality and performance concerning many of Ford’s cars, but “if you ask the average person on the street about that, they would think you are crazy.” Ford intends to do more comparison advertising like the current Fusion campaign in order to let customers know that Ford makes cars that are just as good as Toyota and Honda automobiles.

Said he was”very disappointed” in Sen. Barack Obama’s recent and highly critical remarks about Detroit automakers.

Declared that the U.S. healthcare system was “broken”,but stated that he was not advocating a national healthcare system.

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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6 Comments

  1. Bill Ford seems like an awfully nice guy, but he sure didn’t do a good job of running Ford.

    Lots of negatives on his watch, and the only positive was hiring Mulally. He got that exactly right, but Mulally is like the pitcher called in with the bases loaded in the 9th inning – everything is going to have to go right for this story to have a happy ending.

  2. I would have to agree with paulie – Bill Ford really brought Ford down during his time as CEO. He may yet redeem himself through Mulally, but the deck is really stacked against Mulally right from the start. And that’s because of Bill Ford’s failings.

  3. Nothing like stating the obvious – the healthcare system is broken, and BTW, it’s killing all the manufacturers in America, not just the auto companies.

    But, heaven forbid we should actually have national healthcare because we wouldn’t want to put those nice insurance companies out of business.

  4. The 2006 Fords included in my reliability research have had low repair rates so far. The 2006 Five Hundred and Freestyle are doing quite a bit better than the 2005s, and the Fusion also does well.

    In August I should also have results for the new Edge.

    Latest results:

    TrueDelta Vehicle Reliability Survey results

  5. Yeah, Bill, speaking as a Ford fan, all of us have some regrets about your time as CEO, too.

  6. What the heck is Ford going to do? They are in a very, very bad way, much worse than most people realize, I think. The magnitude of their problems seems to grow every month. Don’t take this as my criticism of Mulally because I think he’s definitely the right guy for the job, it’s just that the job is so huge and so formidable. Ford is so close to disaster.

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