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Ford perplexed but unmoved by Sierra ads

By Harry Stoffer
Automotive News / June 04, 2003

MOUNT VERNON, Va. — Bill Ford said the Sierra Club’s decision to launch an ad campaign during Ford Motor Co.’s centennial observances to bash the automaker’s environmental record is baffling and disconcerting.

“I don’t quite understand it,” said CEO Ford at a company event here on Wednesday, June 4. But he insisted the criticism from his one-time allies in the environmental community won’t change him or the company.

“I’ve been committed to this for many years, and I’m going to continue to be committed, and I think the actions I outlined (Wednesday) show that we’re committed,” he said. “To me it’s a distraction. I think we would accomplish more working together.”

The ads, in major newspapers and newsmagazines, say that today’s Ford vehicles get worse gasoline mileage than founder Henry Ford’s Model T of almost a century ago. They call on Bill Ford to do more to improve them.

The campaign is not the first by environmentalists to target Ford Motor even though its chairman, the great-grandson of the company founder, has been outspoken in favor of environmental issues.

But this round’s timing is especially helpful or hurtful, depending on one’s point of view. The company’s main centennial celebration is June 12-16 in Dearborn, Mich.

Bill Ford also said he’s been getting I-told-you-so phone calls from others in the industry who thought he was foolish to try cooperating with environmental advocacy groups.

Ford reacted Wednesday to the new ads after appearing at a Ford centennial celebration event at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate south of the nation’s capital.

At the event he addressed about 200 company employees, retirees and dealers from the mid-Atlantic region. He told them that, despite difficult economic conditions in all major global markets, the company’s five-year revitalization plan is on track.

But he said much more needs to be done, especially in reducing the costs of developing new products.

He was also scheduled Wednesday to visit members of Congress and at least one Bush administration official, whom company spokesmen declined to identify.

On the environmental front, Bill Ford said the company is:

Prepared to launch late this year a hybrid gasoline-electric Escape SUV that will get nearly 40 mpg.

Close to having a few fuel-cell-powered Focuses ready for fleet customers.

Redeveloping its Rouge industrial complex with environmentally sensitive features;.

Selling models that lead three industry segments in fuel economy.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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