Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally has highlighted the importance of the UK to the manufacturer's ability in weathering the global downturn.

Addressing the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) annual lecture to an audience of business leaders today (27 September) in London, Mulally outlined the turnaround achieved at Ford - the only major US car company to avoid bankruptcy in the recession.

"Alan's extensive business experience made him ideally suited to deliver this year's lecture," said CBI director-general Richard Lambert.

"He has gained great respect internationally for turning Ford around and for saving a global icon from decline."

Mulally described the ONE Ford strategy, including the global product development system, which is expanding the automaker's vehicle range, reinforcing the company's position in mature markets and accelerating growth in emerging markets.

He emphasised the value of the UK presence as a major pillar of Ford's global structure: "It has a global role and one that can grow in importance," he said.

"Ford in Britain can produce 2m engines a year including the latest low-CO2 technology petrol engines from Bridgend in Wales and highly-efficient diesel engines from Dagenham in London.

"One-third of [our] cars globally are powered by engines manufactured and engineered in Britain."

The Dunton Technical Centre, with its responsibilities for both powertrain and commercial engineering, is the largest facility of its type in the UK. Ford says it is the largest R&D investor across all sectors.

The UK is the second largest market for the company's vehicles outside the US - and it has been the car market leader here for 33 years.

Ford has committed to a GBP1.5bn (US$2.4bn) spending programme during the next five years in low-CO2 manufacturing and engineering facilities at Bridgend, Dagenham, Dunton and Southampton.