AN CONGRESS: Ford bounces back from "worst recession since Depression"
Ford CEO, Alan Mulally, has painted a rosy picture of the automaker following the repayment of a US$23.5bn loan that has seen strong recovery in its domestic market following the economic crisis of a few years ago.
"This is the worst recession we have recovered from since the Depression," Mulally told delegates at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. "That is why we need to encourage our legislators to look through the lens of economic development.
"We are [also] working on free trade agreements that are a little bit more fair."
Part of Ford's home recovery follows the inking of the transformation agreement with the UAW union that Mulally insists made the automaker competitive "with the best companies in the world".
The turnaround has not been without pain, however, with Ford engaging in "gut-wrenching restructuring" that saw it take out 50% of its assets but not resort to access "precious taxpayers' money", added the CEO. "I can't imagine moving faster than we did."
Despite the optimistic US picture, Mulally nonetheless highlighted woes across the Atlantic where Ford plans to shutter its Genk plant in Belgium next year with the loss of 4,300 jobs.
"Europe - never seen anything quite like it - the sovereign debt is a real issue," said Mulally. "Huge competitive issues about competing on a world stage - tremendous unemployment and no real clear solution in sight.
"Europe is still slowing down - we do not have an answer for this sovereign debt. We need a real solution that brings together fiscal and monetary policy. Having said that, it is still a large market - we can be profitable with the restructuring by mid-decade.
"When I look at some of the people not taking that action, it might be a bit longer."