Special Coverage

logoNew York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally says the auto maker’s upcoming subcompact car will debut at next year’s Geneva auto show.

Mulally lets the cat out of the bag here during his breakfast speech at the opening of the 2007 New York International Auto Show.

Ford’s B-car is expected to share its platform with the new Mazda2 that was unveiled at this year’s Geneva show in March.

Mulally provides a wide-ranging briefing on his first six months at Ford, including discussing his recent stint as a car salesman at two of the auto maker’s dealerships, one in Dearborn and the other in Los Angeles.

Mulally illustrates two sales he was able to close, one of them by throwing in a set of free floor mats with a new F-250 pickup.

Ford’s revitalization plan is on track, he emphasizes, adding that despite trailing the market the auto maker’s retail sales are running “really close” to plan.

He says he thinks Ford’s U.S. market share, at 16.1% for the first quarter and down more than two points from year-ago, is bottoming out and will begin to climb back. Not all of the reclaimed share will come from Big Three rivals, he notes, predicting Ford will take some of the market away from foreign brands.

The challenge now is to get consumers behind the wheel of a Ford vehicle, Mulally says, adding many people must realize the auto maker “is not just a truck company anymore.”

He says there are about 15%-20% more salaried-worker buyouts to go, and that those who already have taken severance deals say the company executed the cutbacks “with compassion.”

Meanwhile, there are no plans for Ford to unload any more of its Premier Automotive Group brands, including Jaguar in particular, Mulally says. Ford sold former PAG member Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. last month to a consortium of private investors.

“Jaguar’s not for sale,” he says. “We’re 100% behind Jaguar. They’re on a very good trajectory.”

As for a possible bid for the ailing Chrysler Group, which parent DaimlerChrysler AG has put on the block, Mulally says Ford has decided to pass.

“We all came to the conclusion pretty clearly (that we needed) to create a long-term, viable Ford,” adding an acquisition the size of Chrysler would derail that goal.

As for possible new product and technologies, Mulally says rear-wheel-drive cars “look like a tremendous opportunity,” but he declines to answer a question on a possible hybrid application for a luxury model.