It might sound strange coming from the scion of a family whose name is synonymous with cars, but Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. is worried about a world with too many automobiles. “Even if we clean up our cars, 4 billion clean cars is still 4 billion cars,” he told a Climate One audience in San Francisco on October 27.
Gregory Dalton is chief operating officer at the Commonwealth Club of California and Director of The Club's Climate 1 Initiative. He previously was international editor at The Industry Standard magazine, an editor for the Associated Press in New York, and a correspondent in China and Canada for the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper.
Proficient in both Mandarin and Cantonese, he is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
William Clay Ford Jr.
As Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Clay Ford, Jr. is leading the company that put the world on wheels into the 21st century. Mr. Ford joined the Board of Directors in 1988 and has been its chairman since January 1999. He serves as chairman of the board's Finance Committee and as a member of the Sustainability Committee. He also served as chief executive officer of the company from October 2001 to September 2006, when he was named executive chairman.
As CEO, Mr. Ford improved quality, lowered costs and delivered exciting new products. During his time in that position he took the company from a $5.5 billion loss in 2001 to three straight years of profitability. Through the years, his vision for the company has remained unchanged.
Mr. Ford joined Ford Motor Company in 1979 as a product planning analyst. He subsequently held a variety of positions in manufacturing, sales, marketing, product development and finance. During the breakthrough 1982 Ford-United Auto Workers labor talks, which launched the employee involvement movement that revolutionized the industry, he served on the company’s National Bargaining Team.
In 1983 he began a 12-month course of study as an Alfred P. Sloan fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was elected chairman and managing director of Ford Switzerland in 1987. As head of Business Strategy for the Ford Automotive Group in 1990, Mr. Ford helped develop guidelines for establishing low-volume manufacturing plants in emerging markets.
After being appointed general manager of Climate Control Division in 1992, he led a profit turnaround and a major improvement in product quality. He also established the company’s first wildlife habitat at a plant location and the first automotive plant in the world to use 25 percent post-consumer materials in all of its plastic parts. While he was general manager the division won the President's Commission on Environmental Quality Award for replacing a hazardous chemical in a production process with water.
Mr. Ford was elected a company vice president and head of the company’s Commercial Truck Vehicle Center in 1994. He left that position in order to assume the chairmanship of the Board of Directors’ Finance Committee in 1995.
A lifelong environmentalist, Mr. Ford is committed to increasing shareholder value by developing products that please customers and benefit society. Under his leadership, in 2000 Ford Motor Company published its first corporate citizenship report outlining the economic, environmental and social impact of company products and operations around the world. In 2004, the company completed the world’s largest brownfield reclamation project, the restoration of its Ford Rouge Center in metropolitan Detroit. Mr. Ford also championed the Ford Escape Hybrid, the world’s first hybrid-electric sport utility vehicle, which was named North American Truck of the Year in 2005.
"We want to be green, global and high-tech,” he says. “We are using our global resources to produce innovative technology for safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.”
U.S. automotive corporation. Founded in Detroit, Mich., in 1903 by Henry Ford and a group of investors, the company introduced the hugely successful Model T in 1908 and by 1923 was producing more than half of all U.S. automotive vehicles. Through the Lincoln Motor Co. (acquired in 1922), Ford produced luxury Lincolns and Continentals. After years of declining sales, the Model T was succeeded by the Model A in 1927; other companies such as General Motors took the opportunity to make serious inroads into Ford's dominance. The company was reincorporated in 1919, with Ford and his family acquiring full ownership. Henry's son Edsel served as president 191943, and Henry's grandson Henry Ford II led the company 194579, reviving its fortunes considerably. Its stock was first publicly traded in 1956. Ford acquired the British automaker Jaguar in 198990, bought the rental car company Hertz Corp. in 1994, and purchased the automobile division of Volvo in 1999. Later acquisitions included Aston Martin and the Land Rover brand of sport utility vehicles. Ford also owns a significant share of the Mazda Motor Corp. Because of financial struggles at the beginning of the 21st century, the company sold off Aston Martin in 2007 and both Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008. Ford manufactures passenger cars, trucks, and tractors as well as parts and accessories.