Mulally: 'Succession Planning is Really Important at Ford'

OK, I admit that's a yawner of a headline. But when it comes to asking IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Famer Alan Mulally about his future at Ford Motor Co. (IW 500/6), that's about as provocative a soundbite as you're going to get right now.

Mulally, in an interview with CNBC's Phil LeBeau earlier this week, insisted that he isn't going anywhere anytime soon -- despite recent reports that the automaker's board of directors might be preparing to groom Mark Fields, Ford's head of operations in the Americas, to be Mulally's eventual successor.

"I've absolutely loved serving [at] Ford, and I look forward to continuing to serve in the future," Mulally told LeBeau. "And there's no other story beside that."

Mulally, 67, added that there's no reason for him to announce his timetable for retiring, "because I'm absolutely committed to serving at Ford" and "I love the way Ford is going, and we all think we're on a really good track."

Still, Mulally indicated that there's plenty of discussion about his succession plan taking place at Ford.

"Succession planning is really important [at] Ford," he told CNBC's LeBeau. "You can see it with the quality of the team that we put together, the positions they're in, the way that everybody is growing. So we take it very seriously.

"We talk about it absolutely regularly, because one of the things that the board does is develop the future team and also the succession plan."

Mulally, by the way, was in New York City to unveil a hybrid version of the Ford Fusion, which boasts an EPA fuel-efficiency rating of 47 mpg.

When asked by LeBeau if fuel economy is driving vehicle sales, Mulally responded: "All of our research continues to show that fuel economy is the No. 1 or No. 2 reason to buy a vehicle."

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