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BE Corporation
“I’m not going away anytime soon”
When 2007 began, Ford Motor Company was in one of the worst shapes amongst automakers. Then Alan Mulally walked in, conceptualised his ‘One-Ford’ strategy and even today, is working hard to implement his masterplan to earn maximum dollars in fast-growth markets. mulally in a conversation with B&E’s Pawan Chabra
Issue Date - 02/02/2012
After working at Boeing for over 26 years, Alan Roger Mulally took charge as the President and CEO of Ford Motor Company in September 2006. While he wasn’t the first choice for the top job at the auto major, under him the company managed a remarkable turnaround. Today, with less than two years left at the automaker, all eyes are on Mulally’s ‘One Ford’ strategy, and what more he can achieve with his plan in the days to come, especially in fast-growth markets. In an exclusive interview with B&E, Mulally shares his thoughts on the road ahead of Ford in India and his retirement & new launch plans.

B&E: You have unveiled the EcoSport in India, making it the second product to be launched in India under the ‘One Ford’ strategy. When can Indian consumers expect to buy it and what expectations do you have from the product?
Alan Mulally (AM): We chose India for the global premiere of the EcoSport, our compact SUV, because this market is very important for Ford Motor Company. We believe that it will become one of the three largest automobile markets across the globe by the end of this decade. The EcoSport will be sold in the Indian market during the later half of 2012 and it will also be exported to 30 different markets worldwide from India. To start with, it will be produced in India and Brazil. In total, the EcoSport will be sold in over 100 markets and it will be powered by the Ford’s revolutionary 1-litre ecoboost petrol engine. It will be available in both the petrol and diesel variants. We believe it will create a new segment in India as it has the flexibility of an SUV with the fuel efficiency that the modern consumer is looking for. Obviously, it marks the start of the implementation of our SUV plan for the Indian market.

B&E: The ‘One Ford’ strategy has been key to the turnaround tale of Ford Motor Company. Does the plan only help you cut costs by delivering economies of scale or is there much more to it?
AM: ‘One Ford’ is all about making one product for all the markets that we operate in. For instance, a Fiesta sold in Chennai will be made exactly the same way as the one that is sold in the US market. This strategy not only helps us gain economies of scale on the end of the suppliers, but also empowers us to bring more affordable products to the market. This is a very important strategy for Ford as the consumer today is looking for vehicles that are best in safety, quality and fuel efficiency at an affordable price. Roughly, today by using the One-Ford plan, what we have achieved is that over 60-80% of our global platforms are the same for producing vehicles across markets. As far as launches are concerned, under the One-Ford plan, we started with the Figo in 2010 and including the Figo and the EcoSport, we plan to launch eight new models in India by 2015.

B&E: The US auto market has almost recovered from what we saw during the days of recession, But EU is still a big concern. On the other hand, almost all automakers are bullish on the future of India and China. How will the coming years turn out for the auto industry?
AM: Europe is still a concern, but the governments there are making constant efforts to improve the situation. As a company, we expect the global automotive sales to increase by 5% a year at least for the next two years. The driver to this growth will be the Asia-Pacific region and mainly markets like India and China. At the end of 2010, close to 74 million vehicles were sold across the globe. It is expected that this number will go up to 100 million vehicles by the end of 2015. As far as India is concerned, it is one of the most important markets for Ford. The consumer is terrific. He is looking for value and fun to drive vehicles.

B&E: Competition in the Indian small car space has intensified over the years, with companies like Maruti, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda et al, launching their new products or improved variants in the hatchback segment. Are you looking at launching another product in the small car segment too?
AM: So far, the products that Ford has in India like the Figo, the Fiesta, and the Endeavour, are rightly placed in the centre of the segments that they operate in. Going forward, as far as launches are concerned, you will see that 60% of the vehicles we will launch will be of the small and medium size. The rest will be large.

B&E: Given that your retirement comes next year, what are your thoughts on your successor at Ford?
AM: I love working at Ford and I am not going away anytime soon. Anyway, we have a very talented team in place at Ford and any decision taken regarding succession planning, will be in the best interest of the company.]

B&E: Ford is today focusing on reviving the Lincoln brand. Are you looking at launching it in the Indian market as well, as almost every other luxury car manufacturer is now present in India?
AM: Lincoln is a very strong brand but our current focus is on launching the new family of Lincoln cars in the US market first. And I am sure that as soon as that happens, we could even look at getting it to India.
Pawan Chabra           

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