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fuel economyIn the long history of U.S. automakers, green strategy and profitability have rarely gone hand in hand –until, that is, Henry Ford’s great-grandson made them a centerpiece of his tenure as the company’s president and CEO. But by 2006, in the face of larger woes in the U.S. auto sector, Bill Ford had to step down from day-to-day management of the company (he now holds the title of executive chairman). Just two years later, in 2006, Bill Ford’s green vision looked cannily prescient. With gas prices spiraling skyward that summer, U.S. drivers stampeded away from gas-guzzlers. Soon after, the financial crisis leveled the economy, and car sales collapsed. Unlike its Motown rivals, Ford was able to steer clear of bankruptcy, thanks in large part to savvy financial moves by Bill Ford’s successor, Alan Mulally.

Today, with auto sales looking up again, Sue Cischke (pronounced SIS-key) believes that extending Ford’s commitment to green corporate practices and energy-efficient vehicles will help it outpace global rivals. Cischke entered the auto biz as a mechanical engineer at Chrysler in 1976, in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo and as high-mileage Japanese imports began to fundamentally reshape the business. These days, she is Ford’s senior-most executive focused on environmental strategy, reporting to CEO Mulally as group vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering. One of her top responsibilities is steering Ford’s long-term vehicle development, a vital part of helping the company meet its commitment, unique among its peers, to reduce emissions of all new Ford vehicles by 30 percent by 2020 (based on a 2006 baseline).

Read the entire article at: OnEarth

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