4:30 pm EST – The Detroit News: The Final Word

William Ford Jr. said at the 2019 North American International Auto Show today that the fates of Detroit and of Ford Motor Co. are tied irreversibly together as the automaker deals with the future of electrified and autonomous vehicles and as the Motor City attempts to build on its recent economic revival.

In a discussion with Daniel Howes of the Detroit News, Ford said that the long relationship between the city and the company that his family controls were a major reason that Ford has bought the old Michigan Central train station in Detroit’s Corktown section and is working to turn the old facility into a new hub of technology development for the company and economic and cultural rejuvenation for that region of the city.

“I hated seeing that [building[ as a poster child for everything that was wrong with Detroit,” Ford, the company’s scion and executive chairman, told the auto show audience. “Also, we’re in a war for talent … we have something there that can’t be recreated in a Silicon Valley campus. We’re going to restore it to its former glory and also repurpose it to create the future.”

Ford also hailed the plans of NAIAS to move the show to summer, and with an outdoor focus, in 2020. “With the city so vibrant now our streets will be alive and automakers will be able to do things outdoors,” he said. “We can create a new experience and reinvent the experience in ways that people are going to love.”

Ford also said:

–On the future of Ford: “We’re at an unprecedented time … trying to make the best cars and trucks for today and a tomorrow that is largely unknown but we know it’s coming. … It’s going to take a lot of talent and capital and a lot of geographies together. If our mission is to improve people’s lives around the world, we have a chance to reinvent what that means.”

–On winning in the coming autonomous-vehicle revolution: “It will be about who chose the right tech path and to deliver it .. . to the customer in a way that makes their lives better. It’s so easy to get transfixed on the technology itself. You have to take a step back and say is this actually improving people’s lives? .. If the answer is no we probably shouldn’t do it.”

On the alliance with Volkswagen: “I don’t know that there’s an end game. We’re just starting…. We want to walk before we run, get to know each other, make sure our cultures … and teams work well together.

“One thing I’m most defensive of is the Ford culture. I love it … and the employees love the company. We have the most loyal employees you could ever find and I don’t want that to change.”