The next big things: Ford’s top execs on the future of the company

Published: 05 August 2016

► We interview Ford's top executives about the company’s future
► Mark Fields is the company’s president, Bill Ford its executive chairman
► 'We want to change the way the world moves, just like Henry Ford did'

> Mark Fields: We’re kicking off the next transformation of Ford, from being an auto company to being an auto and mobility company. We’ve been working on something to transform the automotive customer experience.

> Bill Ford: Mobility is about making people’s lives better. Around the world, city traffic is a mess and it’s going to get worse. If we don’t fix it, the economy, environment and people’s health and safety will be affected. We have an amazing opportunity to help solve these issues. 

> MF: People keep talking about how auto industry is going to be disrupted by the tech companies, we’re going to disrupt ourselves. Ford plans to lead in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, data and analytics.

> BF: If you look at our heritage, my great grandfather changed the way the world moved with the Model T. We have the same opportunity in a different era. We are on the cusp of a series of revolutions that will enable this to happen: powertrain is being disrupted, the way people access vehicles is being disrupted, autonomous driving is coming too.

> MF: Being an auto and mobility company is a massive opportunity. The auto industry generates $2.3 trillion, our piece is 6%. Transportation services – mass transit, taxis, ride sharing – totals $5.4 trillion a year. Yet Ford gets none of [this] revenue.

> BF: The opportunity is huge to transform the customer experience. Think about mobile phones: nine years ago, Nokia had 50% of the global market but focused only on hardware. Along came Apple: it made the customer experience its top priority with iTunes, the App Store and Apple Pay. What does this mean for Ford? Traditionally we dedicated most of our energy to attracting new customers for a year before buying a new vehicle, then we didn’t re-engage until their next purchase. 

> MF: We’ve had a small group working secretly for 18 months, the outcome is FordPass. Everyone can be a member whether you own a Ford or not. In Marketplace, we’re working with ParkWhiz, Parkopedia and Flightcar to help people find and pay for parking, and more easily borrow and share vehicles. Ford Guides will provide real mobility solutions 24:7, free of charge, including reserving and paying for your parking. 

> BF: We’re partnering with McDonalds and 7-Eleven to provide members merchandise and experiences as rewards. And Ford hubs are opening in New York, London, San Francisco and Shanghai. You’ll be able to explore Ford’s latest innovations, learn about mobility solutions and experience exclusive events.

> MF: From a customer standpoint, great experiences lead to long-term relationships; from a business standpoint it will drive greater loyalty, bring new consumers and accelerate Ford mobility services. This is a company founded on making people’s lives better. We want to change the way the world moves, just like Henry Ford did more than a century ago.

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By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine