William Clay Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
On Air: 1/12/2016William Clay Ford Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, speaks to us live from the 2016 Detroit Auto Show!
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.
Mr. Ford was born in Detroit in May 1957. He is an avid fly fisherman and car enthusiast, enjoys playing hockey and tennis, and is a black belt in the martial art of Tae Kwon Do. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University, a master of science degree in management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an honorary Doctor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering degree from Koc University, an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Michigan and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Bradley University.
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.
On the show, Ford spoke about how innovation at the company has in many ways followed the old Henry Ford quote about anticipating customer needs, “if I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me they wanted a faster horse.” He gave the example of the EcoBoost engine, a 6-cylinder engine achieving superior fuel economy compared to 8-cylinder engines common at the time, while providing plenty of power. He also discussed the process of bringing an environmental focus to Ford, making cars more fuel efficient, partnering with ZipCar to get Ford vehicles into those spots on college campuses, and more. Finally, he spoke about the rising technology in vehicles. He sees it as key to continuing to provide the vehicles people want, but technology must be implemented in a thoughtful way, and while technologies like increasingly autonomous operation are coming, the challenge of the car company is to thoroughly test and understand the technologies are they’re phased in safely.