An Interview With Ford's Next CEO

Ford's Mark Fields talked to us about challenges in Europe and a possible new SUV for America.

Apr 23, 2014 at 8:15PM

Fields

Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields spoke with us last week in New York, next to a 50th anniversary edition of the Mustang. Photo: The Motley Fool.

Last week at the New York International Auto Show, Ford (NYSE:F) took the wraps off of its latest special Mustang: a limited edition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of the original Mustang in 1964. Ford also unveiled a refreshed version of its Focus sedan, with a new grille design closely modeled after the one on the automaker's hot-selling Fusion sedan.

We (the Motley Fool's John Rosevear and Rex Moore) were at Ford's event, and we got a close-up look at the special Mustang and the overhauled Focus. We heard Executive Chairman Bill Ford talk about the importance of the Mustang to Ford, and about the details of this special edition which will carry a plaque bearing his signature.

We also heard from Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields, who talked about the Mustang's history and about other recent developments at the company, including the updated Focus. Since then, we've seen reports that Fields will soon succeed Alan Mulally as Ford's CEO, possibly before the end of the year.

We didn't know that at the time, of course. But we did get a chance to speak with Fields after Ford's event. In this video excerpt from our interview, Fields talks about the company's ongoing effort to turn around its money-losing operation in Europe, and about its successful efforts to gain market share in places such as Germany. 

We also asked Fields about the possibility of bringing the Ford EcoSport SUV to America. 

Paris

Ford's EcoSport SUV has been a hit in some foreign markets. Ford is expected to roll it out in Europe later this year. Photo credit: Ford.

Several of Ford's competitors introduced small SUVs at last week's show, including General Motors (NYSE:GM) with its Chevy Trax, Fiat Chrysler's (NASDAQOTH:FIATY) Jeep Renegade, and Honda's (NYSE:HMC) upcoming HR-V. Ford's EcoSport is a similar product. It's a small SUV, one size down from the Escape, that has been a hit in overseas markets such as India and China. Ford plans to launch it in Europe later this year.

Regarding possibly selling the EcoSport in the U.S., we didn't expect Fields to say "yes" -- Ford would never make an announcement like that without some fanfare -- but we note that he didn't say "no," either. The market for small SUVs and crossovers is clearly a segment that Ford is watching with interest. Listen to what Fields says and see what you think.

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John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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