Ford Motor Company may be one of the world's oldest automakers, but that doesn't mean it's stuck in the past. William Clay Ford Jr., 54-year-old Executive Chairman of the Ford Board of Directors and great grandson of company founder Henry Ford, has penned a forward-looking editorial for Fortune that shows there's innovative ideas at Ford from the top down. "For the first time in more than a century, some of the most fundamental and enduring elements of the automobile are being radically transformed," says Ford, who then goes on to tout the upcoming all-electric Focus and PHEV and electric iterations of the C-MAX five-seater.
It's easy (relatively speaking) to toss some hybrid drivetrain into a vehicle and call it day on offering green vehicles, but that's not the end of Bill Ford's story. Mr. Ford also talks about energy savings to be had by making vehicles more aware of each other using WiFi and GPS to help reduce both fuel consumption and traffic accidents. With its commitment to electrification, Ford notes that infrastructure pieces like a smarter electrical grid and charging stations need to be in place to make electric vehicles a reality. Continue Reading...
As for why Bill Ford is such a technology booster, he himself points at the price of oil. "The turmoil in the Middle East, a growing demand for energy in China, and the fact that oil is getting harder to find – all this suggests that gasoline is going to get more expenive over time and that customers are going to care increasingly about fuel efficiency" says Ford, making a case for the estimate that by 2020, nearly a quarter of Ford's fleet will be electrified. Rather than place all its eggs in a singular basket, Ford is inveting heavily in the competing technologies of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles, so that the company will have an offering in each space, and it will have experience with whatever technology may eventually come out on top. Key to this push is continued development and production of modern battery technology within our own borders, to ensure that no rogue state can arbitrarily cut off our supply of batteries.
Electric or conventional, selling cars, and more cars, at that, will only get you so far. If it puts you smack in the heart of an epic two-week traffic jam, all the technology will be for naught. That's why Bill Ford argues convincingly for smarter systems that make the most efficient, coordinated use of our existing and new infrastructure for cars, rail, buses and even smart parking. Ford has long had an environmentally-conscious outlook, and he closes by stating, "Now that the entire industry is finally moving in this direction, people sometimes ask me, Do I feel vindicated? I say, 'No, I feel energized.'" Ford the man, as well as Ford the auto giant, both seem to be operating on a full charge of enthusiasm for sorting out the facts and foibles of future transportation.