Alan Mullaly is still the CEO of Ford Motor Company, but people are already thinking about what kind of company his presumed successor Mark Fields is going to run. And they're probably jumping to conclusions prematurely.
Steve LeVine wrote an odd thing for Quartz Tuesday hinting that Fields isn't going to be a particularly progressive choice as a company leader. Nor is he likely to even attempt to steal green credentials from other automakers. I don't think that's such a disappointment.
Ford hasn't really done much with the full-EV lately. They may have made a big fuss about the Focus Electric at launch, but it's hardly taken the market by storm. It's not keeping GM and Nissan, let alone Tesla, up at night.
What Ford has been able to do is carve out a relatively successful niche for hybrids. Even though sales of the C-Max have taken a dive after its fuel economy re-rating, the company managed to sell more than 80,000 C-Maxes and Fusion hybrids – second to Toyota and the home of the Prius.
Then there's EcoBoost. Again, real world fuel economy hasn't lived up to the hype. But it's proven to be a strong marketing point to promote engine downsizing. EcoBoost also brought us two three-cylinder turbocharged manual Ford hatchbacks, and that's a good thing.
Ford may be lagging in the high-tech EV flagship department, but is that really a game they need to get involved in at all? The company has been successful under Mullaly by making cars people actually buy more efficient, rather than investing in expensive halo electrics. As an overall car market, the U.S. seems to be responding to downsizing and hybrids better.
It may cost them green points with people like tech writers, but Ford's strategy likely reaches more buyers. Fields could do worse than to continue the same play.
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