Ford Motor Co has found advantages in going without the federal emergency aid that supports its domestic rivals, although the long-term implications of the government intervention are unclear, Ford Chairman Bill Ford said on Monday.
Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford
addresses the audience during The National
Summit at the Renaissance Center in Detroit,
We don't know what the implications are going to be, but one thing is for sure, I like our position, Ford told reporters on the sidelines of the National Summit in Detroit.
An uncontrolled General Motors Corp or Chrysler bankruptcy would have had catastrophic consequences for the auto sector and other industries, he said.
Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30 and completed a buyout to a company led by Italy's Fiat SpA earlier in June. GM filed for bankruptcy on June 1 and hopes to complete a similar sale process by the end of August.
Both automakers had been supported by emergency U.S. government loans since the start of 2009, received additional support to enter bankruptcy and had, or will have, government support for their exit strategies.
We can make quick decisions, we can make the long-term decisions and we can continue to work the plan we have in place with no distraction, Ford said. The ability to do that with minimal distraction and to operate nimbly and efficiently and really focus on the customer ... does give us an advantage.
Ford said the Obama administration and its auto task force acted responsibly to address the automakers and the supply base, where a meltdown would have had a widespread impact on U.S. and foreign-based automakers alike, he said.
The longer-term implications of the intervention are uncertain and the process must remain clear, Ford said.
I think it's important we do have transparency though with the government in terms of the decision-making process at General Motors and to a lesser extent at Chrysler so that we understand -- and I don't mean we at Ford but the American people understand -- how decisions are being made, Ford said.
The government has indicated they really don't want to be in this forever and I think that's a healthy indication, Ford said, but added that he expected the government's ownership of GM to continue for some time.
The No. 2 U.S.-based automaker Ford has posted losses of more than $30 billion over the last three years, but has said it has sufficient liquidity to fund its restructuring and has targeted a return to profitability in 2011.
The automaker also expects U.S. auto industry sales, which have fallen to the lowest levels since the early 1980s, to begin to recover in the second half of 2009.
Bill Ford said there were some early signs that U.S. auto industry sales were stabilizing, though at very low levels.
In an opening address at the National Summit, he said the dramatic global economic slowdown and the deep recession in the United States have increased the urgency for a national dialogue on the economy.
The shock waves have been felt harder in Detroit than anywhere else in the United States, but the summit is directed at national issues, rather than at Detroit or the auto industry, he said.
Detroit is the front line of global competition, we are also on the fault line of the economic earthquake that has rocked our nation, Ford said.
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