Ford says the decision makes business sense, especially as it ramps up its electric vehicle offerings. He also felt it was the right decision ethically, despite the political implications.
"I've always believed we should be looking long term," he said. "I feel like I'm working for my children and grandchildren. Because of that, you have to ask yourself, what kind of world are they going to come into and inherit?"
One of the vehicles that will help Ford meet those stricter standards will be arriving on dealer lots within weeks: the Mustang Mach-E.
Ford was reluctant to allow the team to use the Mustang name on a crossover, but he quickly came around after testing it, and the first production GT model is bound for his garage.
“I thought the prototype of the Mach-E was the best prototype I’ve ever driven in my entire career,” he said. He recently spent time driving a preproduction model, noting how “pleasantly surprised” he was by how fun it was.
Other drivers noticed, too.
“I got a lot of thumbs-up, including from two Mustang GTs,” he said. “I thought, ‘OK, that’s good.’ ”
One of the key architects of the vehicle who helped convince him it was worthy of the name was Jim Farley, who became CEO on Oct. 1. Farley is the fifth CEO to work under Ford since he became executive chairman in 1999 (Ford himself was CEO from 2001 to 2006). Ford praised his intellect, passion for the industry and ability to think ahead about future challenges.
“I’m very confident he’s going to do a really good job,” he said of Farley. “I’m really excited to work with him. At age 63, I have to put my track shoes on to keep up with him. But that’s good, I like that challenge.”