Ford CEO and KU alumnus Alan Mulally says automaker ‘doing great’

No to bailout; yes to increased production

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co., right, discusses the future of his company with Stuart Bell, Kansas University’s dean of engineering, Wednesday in Bell’s office. Mulally visited his alma mater and met with KU students at Eaton Hall.

Coming Sunday

In Sunday’s Journal-World, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally speaks out on several topics: his company’s future, the economy’s prospects, and even whether he’d be interested in serving as Kansas University’s next chancellor.

On 6News Sunday, see Mulally in his element — part engineer, part salesman, all CEO — at 10 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband channel 6.

For more on the KU graduate’s visit to his alma mater, visit

Ford Motor Co.’s CEO doesn’t expect the company to fill its financial tanks with federal bailout money.

Alan Mulally said Wednesday that his company was “doing great” in part because it still had $21 billion in cash at the end of its first quarter — having burned through only $3.7 billion during the past three months, or nearly half the $7.2 billion that Ford went through during the previous quarter.

While GM and Chrysler struggle to put together reorganization plans, announce plant shutdowns and devise ways to avoid bankruptcy while sharing some $17.4 billion in U.S. loans, Ford is motoring along with plans to add another 10,000 vehicles to its production lines.

Bailout money? Mulally is confident such financing won’t be propping up the blue oval.

“We’re very confident, because that was the plan — to raise sufficient capital, which we did when we could — and we feel very comfortable with our liquidity today,” said Mulally, during a 30-minute interview Wednesday at Kansas University’s engineering school. “Now we are actually going to start to increase production, because people really love the new product lines, and we’re actually increasing market share.”

Such production increases will come for “trucks, cars, SUVs” across “most of our operations,” Mulally said. Ford has a production plant in Claycomo, Mo.

Mulally came to Lawrence to meet with a crowd of about 250 KU students in engineering and other disciplines at Eaton Hall, an event videotaped for inclusion in the company’s ongoing efforts to tell “the Ford story.”

Mulally grew up in Lawrence, graduated from Lawrence High School and received two engineering degrees at KU. He also serves on the engineering school’s advisory board.

Stuart Bell, dean of engineering, enjoyed having Mulally back on campus, giving students a chance to connect with a corporate leader who has shown the value of a KU education. Mulally spent much of his career at Boeing, rising to CEO of its commercial airplanes business before leaving in 2006 to take over at Ford.

“He is calm and very personable, and it comes from a lot of hard work and a lot of confidence,” Bell said. “He knows what he’s talking about, and, when you have the right answer, it’s pretty obvious you’re going to have success. And I think that’s what Alan brings.”

Mulally said he was supportive of the government’s efforts to assist the auto industry, even as his company continues to avoid tapping into federal financing. GM, Chrysler, Ford and other automakers all share parts suppliers, and that’s among the reasons a failure of one automaker would threaten the survival of others.

“Clearly, we’re in a different place than some of our competitors, because we have sufficient liquidity to finance our plan and make the vehicles that people really do want,” Mulally said. “It’s a tough environment. The economy is tough — sales for the industry are down over 50 percent — so I think the things the people are doing, especially the government, to get this economy going again are going to bode well for all of us.”