Pitching Ford Motor's "Way Forward" program to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "Competitiveness Forum" Wednesday, Ford's president of the Americas Mark Fields asked the federal government for a variety of support to "level the playing field" for domestic automakers in the U.S. market, including incentives for upgrading out-of-date factories.
The United Auto Workers have already called for tax breaks for factory renovation and government support for health care, but Fields is the first auto industry exec to openly ask for help, saying, in effect, what's good for Ford (and General Motors, and Chrysler) is good for the U.S.A.

Fields and other auto industry executives maintain that they are not looking for a government bailout. Rather, they want government to adopt policies that will help them compete with foreign-based automakers. In this vein, Fields says that companies building new plants (read, Honda, Toyota, Kia et al) get lots of state and local government subsidies based on the new jobs created, but companies looking to refit old plants (Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChyrsler) don't get much help.

It's not clear why Fields thinks this is a federal issue, when factory support is typically a state and local government concern. Perhaps its just easier to lobby one government instead of fifty.

A complete webcast of Fields' speech is available at the Chamber's website, here.

[Source: Ford]

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