PLUG OK license plate
Bill Ford's comments when asked about plug-in hybrids at shareholders meeting
May 15, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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Unofficial transcript by of questions from Jennifer Krill, Rainforest Alliance and Russell Long, Bluewater Network, and answers from Bill Ford, Jr. at the Ford Annual Shareholders Meeting on Thursday, May 11 -- we hope they'll take the next step this week, before or at the meeting of the Big Three automakers at the White House on Thursday, and after we've introduced Washington DC to plug-in hybrids.

[Jennifer Krill, (previously introduced):] Thank you. Good morning Mr. Chairman, members of the board. I'm Jennifer Krill, the Campaign Director at Rainforest Action Network. I support proposal number four, and I support two additional steps: for Ford to number one, stop suing against good environmental and social policies, and number two, for Ford to offer the most fuel-efficient vehicles available on the roads today, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. On my way here, I had an interesting conversation about why we have been coming to this meeting for several years -- to prod and push our company to take the strongest possible stance on some of the most critical issues facing not only our society, but the economy and the strength of this company. I think we are doing a lot of good work
- I agree with Sister Pat; I also think we need to do a lot more. Ford still has the worst fuel-efficiency of major automakers in America. Ford still has the worst per-vehicle greenhouse gas emissions of major automakers in America. Ford's greenhouse gas emission issue is not going to be solved with ads or reports -- it's going to be solved by Ford innovating these solutions, and we won't succeed in getting a policy framework that better fits what Ford needs by suing against citizens' right to clean air. I know, Mr. Ford, that you'll be talking to the President soon, and we issue the same challenge to you both: America needs a twelve-step program to break our addiction to oil. We need Ford to take responsibility for our role in oil addiction, we need to electrify transportation to get our nation off foreign oil, and we need to protect the rainforest's where oil is extracted. We have the country's largest banks, like CitiGroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs committed to embrace technologies that will help end global climate change; we need Ford to build an alliance with these institutions, with these banks, to offer customers clean technologies. And the two immediate steps that we think Ford can take toward this goal is [are] to drop the lawsuits and drop [membership in] the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers and second, to offer Ford customers plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, an option that doesn't require any new technology - just a larger battery on Ford's part, and an extension cord on the customer's part.

[Bill Ford, Jr.] Thank you very much, Ms. Krill. Thank you. We actually, we are looking at plug-in hybrids, and you made some very good points in your presentation. Thank you.

{roughly twenty minutes later}
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to introduce Mr. Russell Long, a shareholder
from San Francisco, California.

[Bill Ford, Jr.] Thank you.

[Russell Long:] ["Good morning."] Good morning. Members of the Board.

First let me say that we appreciate the company's commitment to building 250,000 hybrid vehicles by 2010. We're aware it's a risk, and we thank you for being courageous. That said, we remain deeply concerned about Ford's fuel mileage averages, still the lowest amongst major U.S. automakers at 19.1 miles per gallon. We're also concerned because we've been counting on Ford to lead the auto industry into a new era of environmental responsibility, with dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This is critical, because many scientists are saying now we need to take dramatic steps, or in the next ten years we may pass a tipping point that could lead to runaway global warming. Given that it takes years to develop new car models, given that existing cars will be on the road for another ten years, we believe that Ford needs to be even more courageous. While flex fuels vehicles, ethanol, and the billions needed for E85 infrastructure may be helpful, it's becoming obvious that we cannot succeed without significant, mandated increases in fuel-mileage averages. Without that, everything else is a bit like rearranging deck furniture on the Titanic. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is a proponent of incrementalism, and we'd urge you to go beyond that, by working with Congressional leaders on a plan that would significantly reduce emissions from cars within a time frame that would not hurt Ford's market share. I'd also like to remind you that the Pavley Clean Cars legislation says that if the Federal Government establishes similar greenhouse gas reductions to California's from new cars, then California's regulations can be rendered moot - erased from our state's books completely, as well as from the ten other states who have followed us. Since Pavley only requires 30% reductions by 2016, and you've already started down that path, due to the new light truck regulations, we'd urge you to seize this opportunity, and in this way, preempt California's authority entirely. Should the AAM oppose this initiative, we'd urge you to let them know that Ford would consider resigning from the AAM, to form a new, progressive alliance. And if that becomes necessary, we're confident that others would follow you. Why? Because the timing is right, the vision is authentic, it demonstrates that Ford is walking its talk, and most importantly, our survival depends upon it. Thank you.

[Bill Ford, Jr.] Thank you very much, Mr. Long. Those are very thoughtful comments, and we do look forward to working with you on this and other issues. Thank you.

[Russell Long:] If I could quickly ask on plug-in hybrids, you'd said that you were intending to do something with plug-ins, and we very much appreciate that...

[Bill Ford, Jr.] We have nothing to announce [interrupting] We have nothing to announce today, but yes we are very keenly looking at it, and working with that technology. But we have nothing to announce in terms of any kind of market place.

[Russell Long:] I'm aware that Andy Frank, the inventor of the plug-in hybrid, has made a proposal to the company, and we'd be very pleased to see you work with Mr. Frank. We think that this could lead to some very promising developments, and these cars, as you know, have reduced greenhouse gas emissions of up to 62% so we think it offers a great amount of potential at no cost to the company, given that they're offering to do this for free.

[Bill Ford, Jr.] Thank you, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

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