Mulally Drives Highway of Hope

Ravi S. Jha
Filed on March 14, 2010

NEW DELHI Ford Motor President and CEO Alan Mulally said on Saturday that he is extremely optimistic that automobiles market worldwide would gain momentum with tangible signs of an economic revival.

He was addressing the global think tank conclave opened on Thursday in New Delhi.

The automobile market worldwide had dipped considerably in the last two years as it toiled to recover from the current economic crisis, but, paradoxically, in India it witnessed an increase.” More people bought new cars in India than they did abroad,” said Mulally.

“I have to say that India’s resilient economy is a model for the world today,” Mullay said. He felt this resurgence would manifest itself globally in the years to come.

Mulally, considered to be a veteran in the industry, and known amongst his peers as the ‘turn around wiz’ for his innovative initiatives is on record as having pulled off miracles awhile working in two terminally sick giants: Boeing and Ford Motor.

He is largely credited with Boeing’s resurgence against Airbus. Moving to Ford Motor as President and CEO in 2006, Mulally implemented the ONE Ford plan to transform Ford into a lean global enterprise focused on producing great product and even greater after sales service. He negotiated new agreements to reduce US labour costs, sold Jaguar and Land Rover to India’s Tata Motors, so he could concentrate solely on the Ford brand. In a sharp corporate move he programmed a $23.6 billion borrowing initiative intended to stabilise Ford’s financial position.

“Ford is the only Detroit-based automaker that has not sought a government loan and the new initiatives have led to the company’s first profitable quarter in two years,” Mulally said. Mulally believes that every economy learns to live within their means. “But the Indian economy is one force that is making others realise their errors. The lessons taken from the Indian economy can bring back the smiles on the face of many the worldwide, let alone India,” said Mullay in appreciation of the Indian initiatives.

Mulally remarked that he was amazed to see India’s economic potential intact even in the time of a global crisis, adding that during the recession the demand for automobiles in the Indian market has increased manifold.

In 2009, India emerged as Asia’s fourth largest exporter of automobiles after Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Clearly, India has the indispensable skills in product, process and capital engineering, to become a global manufacturing hub, said Mulaly. “This story is most convincing for the automobile sector, as automakers worldwide are struggling to cope with their biggest-ever existential crisis,” said Mulally.

But even as the market’s growth is driven by the optimism in this nation of over 1 billion people, motorbikes face a pack of ultra-low-cost four-wheel challengers. The overall passenger vehicle market in India is expected to grow from 1.7 million units in 2008 to 2.4 million units by 2013, surpassing the markets in Italy and Spain. By 2012, annual car sales worldwide will increase by about 11 million units per year, with India expected to account for 20 percent of the increase.

Clearly Ford expects to be right up there in the fast track of sales making sure that it has its fair share of the road. And with Mulally at the wheel there seems little doubt that Ford will again be branded the ‘turn around wiz.”

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