In a speech before the Business Roundtable, Ford Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford called for overcoming the energy and manufacturing challenges facing the USA through private/public investment in innovation.
Ford outlined six short-term cooperative measures between industry and government that could “bear fruit for years to come.” The six measures are:
A dramatic increase of the R&D tax credit to more directly support companies working on advanced vehicles, components, and fuel technologies.
Tax incentives to help American manufacturers convert existing—but outmoded—plants into high-tech facilities.
Investment in training programs and incentives to upgrade worker skills.
Pushing governments at all levels by 2010 to consider buying only hybrids or other alternatively fueled vehicles.
Expanding the infrastructure for E85 fuels (85% ethanol) to go from hundreds of fuel stations to thousands.
Convening a group of automakers, suppliers, fuel providers and government agencies to address America’s energy challenges.
Ford said it is difficult to conceive of any issue that touches more of our lives than energy.
It drives our mobility, our appliances and our choices about how far we can live from our jobs. It affects our environment, our national security and our household budgets. And when the price of gas goes up to $3 a gallon, as it did just a few months ago, all Americans feel it in their pocketbooks. And from where I sit, as Chairman of Ford Motor Company, it affects the decisions I make every day.
For longer than we had reason to expect, this country has been relatively immune to the violent swings in supply and demand of a finite commodity. I think most of us suspected we were living on borrowed time; and in fact, the volatility of the past year confirmed that.
Ford reminded the audience that despite recent industry challenges, domestic auto manufacturers are still the foundation of the auto industry in the US, employing nearly 90% of the workers and having made more than 85% of the total investments in the US auto industry since 1980—about $175 billion.
Last week, Ford Motor announced that it will further cut its white-collar workforce by 4,000 in the first quarter of 2006 as an early component of a larger restructuring plan to be unveiled in January. General Motors yesterday announced the closing of nine facilities and the elimination of 30,000 manufacturing jobs by 2008.