Alan Mulally, And His Brutal Honesty, Saved Ford

Illustration for article titled Alan Mulally, And His Brutal Honesty, Saved Ford

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today, we have reports from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Japanese Nostalgic Car.


A Complete U-TurnThe New York Times

I'd forgotten about this incident. But even based on Mulally's actions when he first joined Ford, I don't think we in 2006 could've predicted what Ford would look like now. Sure, there's room for improvement. But conservatism clearly wasn't working for them.

One of the first questions asked of Alan R. Mulally when he joined Ford Motor as its new chief executive in 2006 was what kind of car he drove.

His answer stunned an auditorium packed with Ford employees. "A Lexus," he said. "It's the finest car in the world."

His praise of a car built by Toyota was shocking, but it delivered a clear message of how Mr. Mulally, an outsider who was recruited from Boeing, viewed the products made by Ford, which at the time was spiraling into a financial crisis and desperate for a savior.

Was Toyota driven out of California? Not so fastLos Angeles Times

Unsure whether to totally believe Toyota's Jim Lentz here, but I can see the "culture clash" being an issue if everyone moved out to Torrance. So now everyone gets to be a stranger in Plano, TX.

Toyota began looking for a place to consolidate, comparing everything from climate and direct flights to Japan to cost of living and schools in 100 metro areas. It then narrowed the list to four finalists: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Denver and Plano, an affluent suburb of Dallas. Torrance was never on the list, in part because Lentz wanted to avoid a culture clash between different arms of corporate management.

Why Ayrton Senna is a Japanese heroJapanese Nostalgic Car

Another Senna piece, but it's a good one.

Senna's dominance gave global prominence to Honda, and by extension other Japanese marques, as a force to be reckoned with. Japan was serious. This in turn awoke the past history of Honda's F1 heritage and its revolutionary foray into motorsport (bear in mind Honda was always considered an outsider amongst the rest of the Japanese automakers).


Photo: Getty Images



Of course it makes sense to have manufacturing and management co-located. The question is why Toyota's plant was in Texas, instead of California. The answer, of course, is because California is anti-business. Toyota isn't dumb, and they're not going to say it out loud. Others are already saying it, so they can just be gracious about the whole thing.