Bill Ford Jr., the great grandson of Henry Ford, has had some time to think about things since he gave up his position as CEO in 2006. The extra time has permitted Ford to siphon through the chaos of our world to make some sage observations from the top. According to a recent report, Ford Jr., the acting executive chairman, will be speaking at a mobile electronic device conference in Barcelona on Monday. So what has he come up with? For starters, that this traffic stuff we have to drive in, is not going to fix itself on its own. In fact, with a population increase and another 2 billion people expected to crowd cities and roads over the next four decades, Ford Jr. thinks traffic could get even worse.
His concern for our general annoyance is noble. But as quoted in the report, his interest in the problem may lie elsewhere: “What I’m really worried about is the role of the car in the long-term. If we do nothing, it will limit the number of vehicles we can sell. If we can solve this problem of urban mobility, I think there’s a great business opportunity for us.” It seems only logical that the great grandson of the man who gave the world the Model-T, the first truly mass produced vehicle, should be concerned about selling more vehicles. Then again, there’s also something inherently ironic about Ford Jr. being concerned about congestion.
Ford Jr.’s concern does have some merit. Recently, we reported on an SUV sales boom in China. While SUVs are hot sellers, in countries such as India and China, growing economies with burgeoning middle and upper classes mean automakers are experiencing rapid growth across all segments. That leads to more cars on the road, and ultimately more traffic. For now, the Ford chairman says he doesn’t know what the solution will be, but he envisions a world in which cars can communicate with each other smartly to move the flow of traffic safely and efficiently.