QOTD: You’re Going To Be Appointed CEO Of An Automaker Next Week. What’s Your Plan?

By my estimation, approximately 43.2% of the internet is dedicated to armchair quarterbacking. Everyone has an idea about what they would do if put in a position of power. When it comes to one specific company, I’ve got a few thoughts. And I’d love to hear your ideas too.

I’m going suggest some guidelines be followed in the comments section. The first is to avoid giving in to your base instincts. I know a number of you are going to immediately race to the comments section and explain your plan to re-introduce rear-wheel drive sedans into every mainstream automaker’s lineup. I’m not saying your plan has to make complete financial sense, but there has to be some tiny shred of evidence to justify the decisions you’d recommend.

Let’s also avoid petty comments. “I’d cancel the Prius because liberals are clueless hippies who don’t live in the real world” or “I’d suspend production of all pickup trucks because conservatives buy them and they’re all hateful bigots” are statements that add nothing of value to the conversation. A product shouldn’t be canceled simply because you don’t like the people who drive them, and suggesting it be done isn’t constructive.

With the guidelines now established, its time to dive into the topic at hand.

If I were appointed CEO of Ford Motor Company, the first thing I would do is publicly apologize to Fiesta and Focus owners who experienced problems with their dual clutch automatic transmissions. It’s true that other automakers also produced problematic dual clutch units in their vehicles, but none of them have come close to matching the situation that Ford created with the Powershift transmission. As Steve Lehto points out in the embedded video, Ford does deserve credit for establishing a somewhat generous settlement program for people affected by the issue. But they did have to be sued in order for it to happen, which means many people went years before seeing any kind of compensation.

My plan (tentatively titled “Ed’s Incredibly Amazing Program To Make Focus And Fiesta Drivers Super Happy And Other Stuff Too”) is as follows:

  •  A lifetime powertrain warranty for all Fiesta and Focus models equipped with the Powershift transmission.
  •  A five year, unlimited mileage, all-inclusive “worry free” warranty and service contract for those who want to trade in their affected vehicle on a new Ford Fusion. The warranty would cover everything except for tires and brakes.
  • For those willing to take another chance on a Fiesta or Focus with the Powershift transmission: the above plan plus a $1000 debit card at time of delivery.
  • A five year subscription to Netflix and MoviePass for owners who ditched their Fiesta or Focus for a new or certified pre-owned vehicle that wasn’t a Ford or Lincoln product. Customers who traded in their car on a Ford or Lincoln product would qualify for a subscription of two years for both services. This promotion would only apply to drivers who had warranty service performed on their Powershift transmissions.

I think this plan would satisfy the vast majority of Fiesta and Focus customers who are unhappy with the performance of their transmissions. And the Netflix and MoviePass promotion is guaranteed to generate headlines, which in turn would create interest in the company.

Hyundai’s warranty program continues to remain unmatched by any other automaker. Volkswagen came close last year by extending their bumper-to-bumper warranty to 6 years/72K miles, but there is still a four year gap in powertrain coverage. It’s entirely plausible that Hyundai’s growth was related to their increasingly competitive vehicles and prices, but I suspect that a decent number of people made the switch to the Korean automaker because of the Assurance program. I think its time another company matched that, and its what I would do at Ford. The initiative is tentatively titled “Ed’s Incredibly Amazing Quality Guarantee For All The Super Cool People Out There.”

As for product, my desire to see Ford become an “American Subaru” of sorts would result in some changes to the lineup. All-wheel drive? Make it cheaper and available on all trim levels. Create several models that come with AWD standard. Kill the Fusion sedan and bring over the Mondeo as a wagon so it can compete with vehicles like the Outback and Regal TourX. Slap some body cladding on the Focus, raise the ride height, and have it send power to all four wheels. I call this “Ed’s Incredibly Amazing Plan To Destroy Subaru And Build Really Really Good Vehicles.”

Finally, I would work with Ford’s current ad agency to develop some decent commercials. Most contemporary car commercials are overly dramatic or extremely banal. We need genuinely amusing and unpretentious ads! I think the last time we got one was during the 2011 Super Bowl, when this spot for the 2012 Passat originally aired. I would call this proposal “Ed’s Incredibly Amazing Strategy To Make People Feel Good About Things Again.”

I will neither confirm nor deny that I was watching 2001’s Zoolander while writing this article.

So what’s your plan?