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Old 01-04-2006, 10:11 PM   #1
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LA Auto Show 2006: Ford Makes A Bold Statement

Let's hope they can follow through as Mazda has instead of just rhetoric.

LA 2006: Ford VP: “we lost our way”


Mark Fields, Ford Executive Vice President and President of the Americas, delivered a speech to the Motor Press Guild during the opening of the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show today. Fields said the economy made 2005 a turbulent year for American carmakers, but he admits, “it goes beyond economics.” In short, “we lost our way. We lost touch with our customers.” But Fields is confident Ford’s new policy of “bold design and innovation” will enable it to recover from its past mistakes. “Americans really do want to buy American brands, as long as they are competitive with the imports,” he said. “We know this, because it’s already working in some segments today. Again, look at the success of the Ford Fusion […] Or the Ford Mustang […] Or the F-Series pickup.” He also said Toyota is “desperately trying to cast itself as an American brand.,” a sign that “the market potential is huge” for American cars. He further stated that it’s time to start looking at the “Big Six” automakers as a whole. Fields was clear 2006 most certainly will not be the “year of the truck” as GM has said. He also said the ultimatum he issued at Mazda while it was struggling applies today to Ford and GM: “change or die.” Additionally, Fields drew parallels between Ford’s recovery plan and the recoveries of Apple Computer and Motorola. More highlights from Fields’ speech are available after the jump…

Fields likened Ford’s situation today to that of Apple Computer or Motorola in the past. “I’d point you to the latest Interbrand ranking of the companies that are building their brand images, and their fortunes: E-Bay, Apple, Motorola. Guess what? Apple and Motorola had been written off less than a decade ago, just like the American auto industry. The headlines were grim.”

“But Apple and Motorola went on the offensive. They redefined themselves, they refocused on their brands, and they connected like never before with more customers. They did it with products like the iPod and the Razr phone – products that have excited customers with bold design and innovation.”

“But to those people who have written us off, I would simply ask you to keep an open mind this morning. That’s because my message to the open-minded and the skeptics alike is one of both optimism and realism. Optimism because I believe in the future of Ford Motor Company and the American automakers. Realism because I understand that it will take fundamental changes in the way we do business to secure our future.”

“I’m amused, in fact, about the debate in Detroit as to who’s in or out of the Big Three. It makes for great headlines and PR stunts, but it’s the wrong debate. It’s old thinking, and it’s irrelevant. The real focus should be the up-for-grabs Big Six – the battle among six huge North American, European and Asian companies for growth and profits in the North American market.”

“But one thing I can tell you with a high degree of confidence is that 2006 will not be the “year of the truck,” as I saw in one of my competitor’s press releases recently. That “build it and they will come” attitude is not only business as usual, it’s the old thinking that we need to shed as American automakers.”

“Instead, the consumer will be in the driver’s seat more than ever before, and that will cause the shift in buying patterns to accelerate dramatically.”

“Either the American automakers, including Ford, will begin to change, play far better offense and truly connect with customers. Or it will be the beginning of the end for some companies.”

“Those of you who reported on Mazda during my years there know that I was even blunter a few years ago. I told the Mazda team very directly, Change or die. This applies to the American automakers today just as powerfully as it did to Mazda five years ago.”

“And I’ve given the Ford team the same challenge. It’s time to play offense. It’s time to reestablish our American auto industry as our symbol of pride in this country. It’s time to take back our future. And the clock is ticking.”

“At Ford, we’ve come up with a phrase that we’re using internally to define that spirit. We call it “Red White & Bold.” This phrase is not about wrapping ourselves in the American flag. And it’s not an advertising tagline. It’s an internal rallying cry that reminds us what will drive us to success.”


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Old 01-04-2006, 10:19 PM   #2
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I like him.



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Old 01-05-2006, 06:34 AM   #3
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I'm not quite sure who he's referring to as the big six, he didn't mention Europe, only Asia that I read so I figured he meant Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda. I'd like to get a confirmation, but either way it's good to see someone on their board with a brain towards style and quality.
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Old 01-05-2006, 07:05 AM   #4
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He should be the CEO.
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:58 AM   #5
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*applause* Hear Hear!
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:06 AM   #6
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He should be the CEO, but unless someone in the Ford family adopts him, that will never happen because he doesn't have Ford in his name!
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:56 AM   #7
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Ford's haven't always been CEOs.

I too really like this guy. I'm more excited about Ford's future now than I have been in some time. Maybe it's time to buy some stock...
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:05 PM   #8
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Damnit, I was going to buy some Ford stock last week! After this speech the stock went up like $1.25 ! So much for buying at the low....
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:13 PM   #9
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nice speech. i like that guys talk, i hope ford delivers on that.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:24 PM   #10
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Originally posted by Lucidity
Damnit, I was going to buy some Ford stock last week! After this speech the stock went up like $1.25 ! So much for buying at the low....
Oh man.. but well the stock is still too risky.. I Will wait for the news on Focus or a redesign of one of the currently sucessful models - Escape seem to be frist in line...

Yea h I really like the attitude Fields has.. and I have been eexcited ever since I fould yout he will run the company..

BTW despite Bill Ford being the CEO.. it doesn't mean Field's isn't actually running it.. it would be a great shakeup and recipe for investor uncertainty to fire a heir CEO... instead putthing this guy in charge with Bill as the figure head makes more sense...

BTW does anyone know? If fields just a really goor beancounter or does he have nay car education?

BTW anyone see how the new person in charge of Ford is SOOOOOOOOOOOO different from the new guy up in GM? I am just grinning..


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