William Clay Ford Jr. describes himself as a lifelong environmentalist. Now, as Ford Motor Co. chairman, he is trying to turn the company into the world's greenest automaker.
Ford, 42, will speak at the Wednesday evening dinner of the 2000 Automotive News World Congress, one year after being named chairman of the company founded by his great grandfather, Henry Ford.
Wayne Cherry, vice president of design at General Motors, will share the podium. Cherry, 62, is presiding over the redesign of GM vehicles to convey distinct brand identities.
Automotive consumers are increasingly demanding. GM and Ford are trying to define their vehicle brands better to target specific customers.
Meeting customer demands includes environmental responsibility, Bill Ford said in a recent speech.
'Our common sense and our market research tell us that consumer expectations will escalate in the 21st century,' he said. 'People will insist on doing business with companies that truly care about them and the larger community.'
Ford acknowledges his words provoke skepticism. For example, the automaker has drawn fire for producing the 2000 Ford Excursion, a jumbo sport-utility, and for lobbying to keep a freeze on federal fuel economy standards.
At GM, Cherry is spearheading a drive to reach customers better through vehicle designs that convey brand identity. For example, the Cadillac Evoq, a two-seat concept roadster unveiled earlier this year, aims to showcase Cadillac's art and science heritage.
Cherry is working to create design characteristics for each GM brand. The 2000 Chevrolet Impala, 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and the 2000 Cadillac DeVille are the latest vehicles produced under his tenure.