By Deepa Seetharaman
DETROIT Jan 14 Alan Mulally, credited with
reviving Ford Motor Co's fortunes, emphasized on Tuesday
that he remains deeply engaged in day-to-day operations as well
as setting the second-largest U.S. automaker's long-term
"I'm still doing everything I did," he told reporters in a
wide-ranging conversation on the sidelines of the Detroit auto
show. "I'm just spending more time on the longer term issues and
I'm right there on the day-to-day issues. I'm the CEO."
Mulally also discussed other topics including his support
for U.S. legislation and guidelines to protect drivers' privacy
as more vehicles are able to connect to the Internet.
His comments came about a week after he removed himself from
the sweepstakes to become the next CEO of Microsoft Corp
following months of speculation. He also said he plans
to stay at Ford through the end of this year.
Mulally took Ford's helm in 2006 and spurred a cultural
change that helped Ford take quicker action and make bolder
bets, analysts, executives and other industry observers say.
One such risk is Ford's overhaul of its top-selling F-150
truck unveiled on Monday. The truck's body is made almost
entirely out of an aluminum alloy, which Ford bets will widen
its lead over rivals General Motors Co and Chrysler Group
LLC in the lucrative segment.
In late 2012, Ford first announced that Mulally would remain
at Ford until at least the end of 2014. This was part of a
series of changes that included the promotion of Mulally's
presumptive successor, Mark Fields, to chief operating officer.
As COO, Fields now runs the weekly "business plan review",
or BPR, and manages day-to-day operations. Now Mulally is
spending more time grappling with issues that have long-term
implications for the company.
Last year, some people close to Ford said that Mulally was
scaling back at Ford as he weighed his next steps -- including
the potential CEO role at Microsoft. He was among the top
contenders for the position, sources said at the time.
But on Tuesday, Mulally refuted that notion, saying that he
participates in every BPR and has moved just one chair over from
"It's not like I'm doing one or the other," Mulally said.
"Mark runs the BPR (business plan review) in the leader's chair
and I'm right there with him every step of the way."
One long-term issue Mulally is focused on is how Ford can
adapt to the growing number of consumers who live in cities
where buying a vehicle is impractical -- a topic of great
interest to Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
Mulally said Ford would continue to partner with the
planning and transportation departments in cities around the
world. "What's that means to Ford's business model? I have no
idea yet, but I know it's going to mean something," he said.
He added that it would be important for Ford to lower the
prices of its vehicles as it improves their capability and adds
safety and connectivity features. As examples, he pointed to
Ford's new global sub-B car, the Ka, and the EcoSport small SUV,
which are both aimed at emerging markets like Brazil.
It would take longer for such vehicles to come to the United
States, but Mulally said he expected models like the Ecosport
would be introduced in the market eventually.
Last week, Ford's global marketing chief Jim Farley raised a
furor when he said at the consumer technology conference, the
Consumer Electronics Show, that Ford can glean considerable data
on drivers from GPS units in the cars.
"We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're
doing it," he said at CES, according to Business Insider. Farley
shortly retracted his statements and Mulally also said Tuesday
that Ford does not track vehicles.
But he said Ford was in regular contact with regulators over
how to protect drivers privacy and said the auto industry needed
national guidelines to follow.
"It's just really important that we have boundaries and
guidelines to operate," he said. "We are all, our homes, the
cars, everything is going to be on the Internet, everything is
going to be connected. So what are the guidelines?"
Ford shares were up 1.8 percent at $16.39 on the New York
Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon.