DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally late Sunday praised the incoming Obama administration, but said he hopes that any car czar appointed to oversee industry restructuring refrains from product dictates.
My god, I hope that a car czar does not get into the product strategy of the companies, Mulally said at a dinner with journalists after the first press day at the Detroit auto show. The product strategy has to be led by the companies.
The remark came after a question about whether such a car czar could end up determining which one of the Detroit 3 companies would build next-generation police cars or taxis.
The appointment of a car czar, however, is an important move, Mulally said.
I know this is going to sound like Im a masochist or something, but Im very gratified -- its been kind of hard -- but that weve gotten to a place where theres appreciation for the automobile industry in the United States, he said.
Mulally said hes encouraged by president-elect Obamas understanding of the challenges facing the industry.
Ive been very pleased with the fact that it seems like he really understands that dealing the economy is a very, very high priority, Mulally said.
Ford executives say they are hopeful that Obama will put together a broad national energy policy that aligns consumer behavior with social interest on energy use.
To have a policy where were trying to jam products out that people dont want doesnt make any sense at all, Mulally said.
But Mulally balked at saying that higher federal gasoline taxes are the answer. While such a tax increase might be one piece of a comprehensive energy policy, were not presumptuous enough from the automobile industry frankly that we should lay out the energy strategy of the United States, he said.