Ford won't be joining General Motors and Chrysler on any return trips to Uncle Sam's Bailout Buffet. The automaker plans to stay in Dearborn and cook dinner at home, so says CEO Alan Mulally, who told reporters at the NADA convention, "We don't want to borrow any more money. We have sufficient liquidity to fund our transformation plan, which means our business is in a relatively good shape." While GM and Chrysler were approved for over $17B in bailout bucks and are already well into the cash pile, Mulally had instead requested access to a $9 billion line of credit (you know, just in case). The difference: the feds have yet to move on Ford's request.

Ford's decision to basically mortgage everything it owns during a $23 billion borrowing spree in 2006 has become the catalyst for a significant and ongoing PR victory. Those actions are what let Mulally distance himself from his counterparts during the Capitol Hill bailout hearings, and they're paying dividends again now as Mulally tells the world that Ford doesn't intend to look for any more dough. We've talked to plenty of friends and relatives – people who don't otherwise follow the auto industry – who view Ford in a more positive light specifically because they didn't take bailout money. Yeah, Ford is in debt up to its eyes, but it made its moves on its own, long before the Detroit death struggle became C-SPAN programming. If Ford manages to pull this off, Mulally will have shown himself to be well worth every penny that Ford pays him.

[Source: CNN Money]