CHICAGO – Sue Cischke, vice president-environmental and safety engineering at Ford Motor Co., in April was given an added duty– senior vice president of sustainability.

It's a somewhat nebulous title, but she says her responsibilities are simple:

“To determine what the future will look like in 2050, ensure Ford has relevant products that people want in 2050, and balance the social, economic and environmental concerns to create those products for 2050, and beyond.”

And both Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally have given her another directive.

“They told me this is one of the most important things for me to do – and they want it done yesterday,” she laughs.

The job puts Cischke in charge of ensuring the auto maker creates new vehicles that burn less fuel and release less pollution in 2050 than current models do.

Even if she fails in her new post of reading the future 43 years from now, chances are unlikely either Bill Ford, 50, or Mulally, 61, will be around to call her on the carpet for a reprimand.

Of course, at 53, it's not likely Cischke would have to listen to the scolding anyway.

“I have to admit sometimes when we talk about 2050 in meetings I stop and think, 'Will I even be alive then?'” Cischke says.

It's the thought that counts – thinking green from concept to production and making environmental impact a top priority in the creation, building, and selling of each new product.

Both cars and the plants that assemble them will have to consume less energy and the vehicles will have to be recyclable. Mulally calls it environmental stewardship for future generations.

“We've finished the debate about whether the world has warmed up a degree,” Mulally says. “Now we're going to start at an important time when all the citizens around the world get a chance to decide what we all want to do about being stewards about the Earth and what we want to do about the use of all energy sources.”