Every innovator is thinking about what’s next. But it’s the ones who are thinking about what’s after what’s next that are the true visionaries and disrupters.
Bill Ford is one those.
In the 1980s and ’90s, when most of the auto companies were building bigger and bigger vehicles and the public was gobbling up huge SUVs, Bill Ford was trying to convince Ford Motor Company to build more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cars and trucks. He was almost completely stonewalled by the executives at Ford.
However, he’s now the executive chairman of the company that his great grandfather Henry Ford founded in 1903, and while the rest of the automotive industry is now racing to see who’s going to build the best electric and alternative fuel vehicles, Bill Ford has his sights set on the next challenge.
“Everybody’s focused on the environmental issue with cars, and rightly so, but I believe in my lifetime we’re going to solve that,” said Ford. “It’s either going to be through electric or hydrogen. We are going to make clean cars, and we’re well on our way to having the technology to do that. But even as we’re doing that, another issue is coming at us called global gridlock. We’ve got a billion cars on the road today and 7 billion people in the world. By midcentury we’re going to be about 9 billion people and 4 billion cars on the road.”
Clearly, the math doesn’t add up to a very good scenario. There simply aren’t going to be enough places to put all those cars, especially in urban areas that are already badly overcongested with vehicles.
Bill Ford has some ideas for how we’re going to solve that as a society, and his vision is refreshingly unmyopic.
In the final installment of this four-part series on Ford Motor Company’s rise to become a 21st century tech powerhouse, we take a look at how Ford plans to use technology to address one of the planet’s most important looming challenges in the decades ahead, and how the company is transforming itself in the process.
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