"Preserving the environment is a competitive advantage and a major business opportunity."
October 31, 2001 11:01 AM   Subscribe

"Preserving the environment is a competitive advantage and a major business opportunity." So says Bill Ford, former chairman and now CEO of Ford Motor Company (replacing the ousted Jacques Nasser). An admirer of the ecology of Volvos and a "hardcore environmentalist," Bill Ford represents the hope of many with the planet's environment in mind. Can he really be for real? Whether or not, the news is good to hear.
posted by moz (17 comments total)
Moz, thanks for the links! I've been following this stuff for a while.
posted by thekorruptor at 12:49 PM on October 31, 2001

This is what it will take for big business to finally understand that efficiency is the core of both environmentalism and business. Waste nothing. If a manufacturer on the scale of Ford can be successful at it, then hopefully others will follow.

(crossing my fingers)
posted by billder at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2001

As a first step to showing us he's for real, could Bill Ford Jr. please withdraw the monstrous Ford Excursion from production? It's 18.89 feet lo-o-o-o-ng.
posted by Carol Anne at 1:05 PM on October 31, 2001

I'm somewhat skeptical of Ford's commitment to environmentalism, if only because at the same time they make these types of claims, they're happily producing behemoth, gas-sucking SUV's like the Excursion- which gets an incredible 11 MPG in the city. If these guys are for real, that's great...but right now it seems like it's little more than lip service.
posted by 40 Watt at 1:12 PM on October 31, 2001

It's unfortunate that Ford, once one of the industry's leading lights, has cost-controlled itself into a quagmire of shoddy quality, nightmarish PR and, worst of all, possibly contributing to the deaths of customers by either knowledgeably or ignorantly failing to act in the storied Firestone tire/Ford Explorer debacle.

Now, Ford is against the ropes, and -- Firestone's culpability aside -- it has no one to blame but itself.

Such a scenario calls for real change, not just the appearance of change. And I can't think of anyone better suited to take up that charge at Ford than Bill Ford.

Can he really be for real? Yes. I think the more vital question to ask, though, is, "Will FoMoCo actually allow him to lead?" I hope so (ditto billder's comments above).

Excellent post, moz.
posted by verdezza at 1:16 PM on October 31, 2001

As for the Excursion, it accounts for a very small percentage of inordinately gas-sucking Fords -- but a hugely disproportionate percentage of profit. It's what sells, and we (U.S. consumers) are the ones eagerly snapping up every one that comes off the assembly line. While I don't like it, it's smart business for them to offering the Excursion.

It would be even smarter, though, for them to offer a hybrid gas/electic version of the Excursion -- and much, much more laudable for them to be offering more economical versions (i.e., hybrids, clean-burning diesels) of their biggest-selling nameplates (Taurus, Explorer, etc.); the ecological impact, if consumers would buy them (?!), would be that much more significant.

Also, at the risk of sounding like a Ford apologist, keep in mind that the company that came out with the Excursion introduced, to a U.S. market with little interest in small cars, the (in many ways) class-leading, very efficient and affordable Focus.
posted by verdezza at 1:30 PM on October 31, 2001

It would be even smarter, though, for them to offer a hybrid gas/electic version of the Excursion

Ford will offer a hybrid Escape in 2003 or 2004, and it is supposed to get the same horsepower as the current vehicle (about 200, with the V6).

By that time, my lease will be up, and the second year models will be out (if it stays on track) and I would seriously consider forking over the extra $ to get one.
posted by adampsyche at 1:56 PM on October 31, 2001

While I do see the change to Bill Ford as positive from an environmental standpoint, I still can't buy from a company that advertises it's ecological advances on 5 pages of every National Geographic I recieve, and then sells monstrosities like the Excursion.
All of the car companies are saying how they are coming out with advanced models with new propulsion systems, and the end of the internal combustion engine is coming. The only problem is that they've been saying that for years.
Hypocrisy doesn't sell to me.
posted by themikeb at 2:23 PM on October 31, 2001

a "hardcore environmentalist,"

Hmmm...very interesting, although in light of this article, some people may not necessarily think so. The cynical side of me thinks he should take a lesson or three from Ted Turner with regards to what to do with undeveloped land.

As an interesting aside...last time I filled up, regular cost me $1.03 a gallon (near Dale City, VA). I betcha that car/truck owners with thirsty vehicles just gotta love that.
posted by PeteyStock at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2001

Great post, moz. Boy, is Bill Ford not the Second Coming of car execs, or what? Environmentalist great-grandson of Henry - wow. Every exec should have to have the company name as his surname.

I've cracked wise about the Excursion as much as everyone else, yet I'm hesitantly optimistic that Ford will make some progress here. Withdrawing from the emissions lobby is a great sign.
posted by D at 5:23 PM on October 31, 2001

Actually, Hank the Deuce was the Second Coming. Bill Jr. is the Third Coming
posted by rodii at 5:55 PM on October 31, 2001

I hate the Excursion and the Suburban and the Navigator and the Land Rover and the ...... Ford sells these things because every mom wants to wrap as much steel around thier ass as possible. It's time that we make it illegal to drive a suburban by yourself.
posted by MaddCutty at 7:39 PM on October 31, 2001

Hank the Deuce?

It's time that we make it illegal to drive a suburban by yourself.

Thereby opening up a whole new market for those inflatable marital aids.
posted by D at 11:10 PM on October 31, 2001

What's more interesting is that Bill Ford's COO is British, and his appointment is designed to import the much better image that Ford has over in Europe. Whereas Ford has been squeezed in the general US market by the GM brands and Japanese makers, people over here associate them with the astonishingly cute Ka and Puma, the funky-looking Focus, and the Everyman's Mondeo; I'm not even sure that the Excursion is on sale over here. (And Brits tend to think of Ford as a home-grown car maker, given the long history of the factory in Dagenham.)

Honestly, I don't see why Ford doesn't sell the Ka in the US. It may look a little cramped for American tastes, but as a commuters' car, it's an utter dream, and bloody fuel-efficient.
posted by holgate at 5:25 AM on November 1, 2001

Ford's Ka is an absolute kitten of a Kar!
posted by Carol Anne at 6:35 AM on November 1, 2001

Hank the Deuce?

Hank the Deuce = Henry Ford II, Henry's grandson, who led the company from 1945 to 1980.

Bill Jr. is William Clay Ford Jr., son of Henry II's younger brother.
posted by rodii at 9:32 AM on November 1, 2001

Thanks, rodii.
posted by D at 9:11 PM on November 3, 2001

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