DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said today that staff will continue to work closely with suppliers to minimize the North American production impact of Japanese parts shortages caused by last month’s earthquake and tsunami.
The only impact on Ford in North America to date has been limiting vehicle orders in certain paint colors because of interruptions to Japan-supplied paint products.
Mulally, who spoke to reporters after a luncheon here at which he was feted, said Ford has shifted parts from slower-selling to hot-selling vehicles, used scheduled vacation downtime early and taken other actions to keep North American production from being disrupted.
Mulally was honored as the Automotive Executive of the Year.
He also preached patience to Lincoln brand dealers, asking them to give increased product spending time to yield a broader vehicle lineup in the coming years.
Some Lincoln dealers are upset that Ford is pushing them to improve their facilities and begin offering perks such as free car washes and loaner vehicles when the brand’s product lineup is limited.
“Our commitment to the dealers now is that we are going to make a fantastic family of Lincoln vehicles that are going to be very competitive,” Mulally said. “But we are all going through this transition. It takes time to get these vehicles to market.”
Mulally said that in the years before he joined Ford, much of the spending that would have gone to Lincoln was directed to Ford’s other luxury brands, such as Jaguar and Land Rover. That has changed since Ford sold those brands.
“It was only eight years ago that Lincoln was the No. 1 luxury brand in the United States,” Mulally said. “But then we had all those other luxury brands so we didn’t invest as much in Lincoln.”
Asked whether his $26.5 million compensation in 2010 would affect contract negotiations with the UAW this year, Mulally said the union will be reticent to do anything that stunts Ford progress. That includes the planned hiring of 7,500 people over the next two years.
He said it was good that compensation is aligned with the company’s profitable performance.
Mulally said: “No one wants to go back and lose one bit of that competitiveness.”