Bill Ford's Speech To The
Annual Meeting Of Shareholders


Bill Ford, 
Wilmington, Delaware on 
Thursday, 11th May, 2006
When Bill Ford (above) speaks, shareholders listen ...
and so do others. Here's his speech from last week.

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15th May, 2006

Following is the text of remarks as prepared for delivery by Bill Ford, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ford Motor Company, at the annual meeting of shareholders in Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday, 11th May, 2006.

"As you know, we're facing significant challenges in North America. But we have a strong plan, with the right leadership, to turn around our performance, and to continue to grow our global operation. Our plan is rooted in a renewed commitment to innovation.

It's no secret that Ford Motor Company's long-term success depends, in part, on our expansion in the global market place. The good news is that, outside of North America, all of our automotive operations are profitable. South America, Europe and the Premier Automotive Group posted stronger year-over-year results in the first quarter. We also continue to perform well in emerging growth markets, such as Turkey, Russia, India, and China, where our sales and our share are growing. We consider these markets to be a critical source of future growth and profits, and we are pursuing them aggressively.

Last year, our sales in China, the fastest growing market in the world, were up 46 percent. Our second manufacturing site in China will be operational next year, nearly doubling our capacity there.

Ford Credit continues to be a strong contributor to our overall progress, with a pre-tax profit of $751 million in the first quarter. It remains a vital strategic asset of our company, and a key element of our future plans.

We're encouraged by the success of our global automotive operations and also Ford Credit. The bottom line is that we have been profitable as a company for the past three years. Worldwide, our total vehicle sales have gone up for the past two years.

The exception to our worldwide success is our North American automotive operations. The conditions we face today represent a turning point unlike anything we've experienced in our history. The auto business has shifted, completely and permanently, to full scale global competition. Our issues in North America are structural, not cyclical.

To address this challenge, in January we launched the most fundamental restructuring in our history. The Way Forward plan developed by Mark Fields and his team touches every aspect of our automotive business in North America to make it more customer-focused, product-driven and efficient. It will restore our North American automotive operations to profitability by 2008. And I will continue to honour the commitment I made at last year's annual meeting to not accept a salary or a bonus until our automotive business achieves profitability.

The Way Forward plan reflects lessons learned from our successes around the world. Along with substantial cost restructuring, it contains the vision and strategic focus to rebuild the business. We know we can’t just cost cut our way to success, so we are changing the business model that's existed for many decades at Ford.

We're taking a more far-sighted approach to creating shareholder value. Our actions will be guided by our long term goals of building brand, satisfying customers, developing strong products and driving innovation into everything we do.

We've already made progress in strengthening our product lineup to meet customer needs and market conditions, especially rising fuel prices. We've never been in a better position to compete in an environment of rising gas (petrol) prices. Our fuel-efficient new mid-sized car line-up has helped us increase our U.S. car market share for the first time since 1993. We had the largest sales increase of any manufacturer in the fast-growing crossover segment, and we're going to introduce two more crossovers this fall (autumn) with the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX.

We're on track to produce 250,000 vehicles this year capable of running on E85 ethanol – a renewable fuel. Our Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids had their best sales months ever in April, and there's more on the way.

To distinguish ourselves from our competitors, I am personally leading an effort to renew our commitment to innovation. Innovation has driven the company’s success over the past 100 years, and will give us a sharper competitive edge as we go forward. We've installed a disciplined process to put our best ideas into motion, and thousands of Ford employees around the world have already responded with ideas.

We have a realistic plan to move us forward. We have more great products on the way. And we have the dedicated and talented people of Ford Motor Company determined to deliver breakthrough ideas and outstanding results. All of which gives me great confidence in the future.

As always, I thank you for your support."

2007 Ford Edge
America's 2007 Ford Edge

Other Ford news: here.

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