Ford Motor Company’s CEO Alan Mulally says that the automaker’s resurrected 2010 Taurus embodies his goals for the company. During an unveiling this past Labor Day in Seattle, Mulally invited journalists to join him in test drives along Lake Union and I-5 where he demonstrated the vehicle’s new EcoBoost technology.
Of all the advances on display in the revived Taurus, EcoBoost is what Mulally is most proud of. In essence, it’s a twin-turbocharged, fuel injected V-6 engine that delivers horsepower equivalent to a standard V-8 with substantially better fuel efficiency. Mulally says, “It’s 20% more fuel efficient right off the top.”
The Taurus is something of a personal victory for Mulally. He says he was shocked to find that the Taurus was slated to be eliminated from Ford’s model line when he came onboard as the company’s President and CEO in 2006. Taurus had been Ford’s best-selling model in the late 1980s but was in need of a facelift and image makeover. Instead, Ford was planning to replace it with the Ford 500.
Mulally gave the Taurus name a reprieve and instructed Ford’s engineers and designers to create a new incarnation and “to make it the finest vehicle we’ve ever made.” He believes the 2010 Taurus is just that and is confident that it portends well for the automaker’s future.
The redesigned 2010 Taurus provides Ford with a full-size sedan with a competitive sticker price starting at around $25,000. The SEL model debuted by Mulally in Seattle was a full-featured, leather-lined top end model priced at about $32,000.
By enacting aggressive cost cutting initiatives, Ford is now leaner and better prepared to compete in the current economic environment. Ford’s union workers have made wage concessions that lowered the average hourly wage from $76 to $55. Mulally says this has gone a long way toward leveling the playing field with foreign automakers including Toyota and Honda. He says, “We can compete with the best in the world.”
Ford has also consolidated its model lineup under the Ford umbrella. “What was 97 nameplates,” he says, “is now fewer than 20. We’re bringing all the Fords together into one complete family of vehicles.”
Ford is also addressing consumer’s wants and needs by focusing on improving fuel efficiency and safety features.
Mulally credits his diverse experience as an executive with The Boeing Company for his success with Ford and points to the merger of aircraft makers Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. That move reduced the number of jet aircraft from 16 down to just four and dramatically reduced operating costs. Mulally said, “The similarity between the companies is unbelievable. Both of them are about the consumer, and the engineering and manufacturing is among the most sophisticated in the world.”
Ford’s efforts to remake itself have been returning dividends in recent months. The Ford Escape and Focus were among the top 10 best selling models among Cash for Clunkers participants. Addressing the media in Seattle, Mulallay was quick to point out that Ford’s sales in the Pacific Northwest were up by 38% last month compared to August 2008. “Our message,” he said, “is that Ford is back.”
Mulally said Ford is committed to making more fuel efficient vehicles and developing alternative sources including electric and hydrogen technologies. His vision for the future also includes a variety of models to suit the consumers’ needs. “I can’t imagine taking the thrill out of driving,” he said.