Last week, I had the pleasure of joining Ford at the North American International Auto Show for a few days. Having been to the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto and the Hamilton International Auto Show in my youth, I didn’t think it would be much different. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Detroit Auto Show is the Crown Jewel of them all. There was a product launch and unveiling every few hours and the room was full of approximately 6,000 media from around the world. You could feel the room buzzing as each new car was unveiled and people began to talk about it. There was a Corvette hanging on a wall in the GM area. There was a simulated assembly line in the Ford section. There were hor d’oeuvres at the SMART Car booth and refreshments and coffee almost everywhere you looked. This was a different experience all together.
The first stop of the day was at the Joe Louis Arena where Ford unveiled the new 2015 F-150 Truck. This was one of the MOST impressive product launches I have witnessed. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, check out this video which shows the entire Ford press conference culminating with the F-150 reveal:
The entire first day of our two-day visit was focused on the Auto Show. Ford had an impressive media room set up to allow us to go, “Behind the Blue Oval” and learn more about Ford. They ran sessions on different topics all day that covered everything from design processes to Q & A sessions with Ford executives. It was especially refreshing to hear throughout the day how happy and excited the Ford executive team was to have not only traditional media there with them, but also new media members as well. It was also a relaxing environment to recharge (both yourself & your gadget batteries) and a great opportunity to take a closer look at the vehicles Ford is working on and ask lots of questions.
I had the opportunity to see a new proximity security feature they have added to the Police Interceptor line of vehicles. This feature will automatically close open windows and lock doors, when active, if someone approaches a police cruiser from behind. This is a big step in helping keep law enforcement professionals safe.
The team at Ford had definitely thought of everything we might want during our time at the Auto Show. This included meals, refreshments and even a conveyor belt of snacks which kept changing throughout the day. It started with granola bars and nuts. Then it changed to chocolate and it ended the day with candy. What more could you ask for?
During the evening portion of the event, I had the chance to meet Brad Keselowski and Alan Mulally, the President & CEO of Ford. They were there talking with the guests and answering questions in a very relaxed setting. I also had a chance to chat with former NASCAR driver (and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee) Dale Jarrett and NASCAR Hall of Fame member, Ned Jarrett. The evening also included a short screening of the upcoming movie, Need for Speed (sorry, no video allowed) and the chance to meet the director of the movie, Scott Waugh. If it sounds like a whirlwind it was. It was also a great end to a great day!
If you want a glimpse into what Alan Mulally is like in person, there are plenty of videos online. I had recalled seeing him in the clip below on the Late Show with David Letterman and he was very much the same in person, in my opinion. After diving deeper into how he tied the vision and focus on the Ford brand into the original pillars that Henry Ford built the company on, when he joined the company, I am even more impressed at what Mr. Mulally has accomplished in his career.
With the work that Mr. Mulally has done at Boeing and now Ford, he has definitely helped people get around the world either in a car or an airplane for almost half a century. If that doesn’t make him someone who embodies Henry Ford’s vision of “Opening the Highways to all mankind” which appeared in a 1925 Ford advertisement, I can’t think of a better example.