Earlier this month, 170,000 technology geeks and innovation junkies converged in Las Vegas for the massive International Consumer Electronics Show.

They were greeted there by 3,600 exhibitors showing off every new whiz-bang gadget conceivable, from rocket skates and 3-D printers to smartglasses and wrist-drones.

Ford Motor Co. (IW 500/8) was there, of course, touting the future of autonomous cars and clever software upgrades.

But when Ford President and CEO, Mark Fields, took the stage for his keynote speech on opening day, he announced a vision that goes far beyond high-tech toys.

"Even as we at Ford showcase our latest connected cars and plans for autonomous vehicles, we are coming to CES with a higher purpose – one that started more than 111 years ago with our founder, Henry Ford," Fields said.

"Henry Ford believed that a good company makes excellent products and earns a healthy return," he explained. "But he proved that a great business does all that while creating a better world."

And that, he said, is exactly what he was at CES to discuss.

To do that, he began his talk by taking the audience out of the glittery streets of Vegas to the crowded, polluted roadways of India.

"More than 18 million people live in Mumbai – its population density is 17 times greater than here in Las Vegas," he said. "Cars inch along the roadways with horns blaring. Trains are so packed that commuters' phones and eyeglasses often get crushed under the pressure of bodies."

The city, like much of the world, he explained, suffers from poor air quality, crumbling and insufficient infrastructure and dismal poverty rates. Combined, those factors render enormous swathes of the global population stuck and immobile in their current position, unable to keep up with the rapidly changing world around them.

As the leader of one of the world's largest mobility companies, Fields seems to have taken it upon himself to change that.

Doing so, however, he first had to expand the term "mobility" into something a bit more ambitious than just getting around.

"At Ford, mobility is about far more than motion," he said. "It involves moving food to the stores you shop in, ambulances arriving at the scene of an accident in time to save a life, or making it to your daughter's recital on time."

Enabling more of the world to do that – and leveraging all of the uber-cool technologies of CES to do so in the cleanest, safest, and most connected and efficient way possible – means removing any of the barriers standing in the way of progress in Mumbai, in China and here in the U.S.

"[Mobility] is really about progress," Fields said. "Human progress."