From: Tom Krisher, Associated Press
Published April 24, 2007 12:00 AM

Ford Names Exec Head of Environmental Sustainability Efforts

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has promoted Susan M. Cischke to a senior-level management position heading the automaker's global environmental sustainability efforts, the company announced Monday.


In a conference call with reporters, Chief Executive Alan Mulally said Cischke will be responsible for charting Ford's course on future products and manufacturing techniques as they relate to energy consumption and environmental protection.


"The whole subject of energy independence and being good stewards of our Earth is just such an important part of our business plan going forward," Mulally said.


Cischke formerly was Ford's top environmental and safety officer, serving as vice president of environmental and safety engineering. In her new job, she will be a member of the company's operating committee and report directly to Mulally instead of a group vice president. Her new title is senior vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering.


"The goal is to lay out a plan for the company of how we're going to move out to the future, so it's not a matter of doing just the political or the regulatory. It's really influencing the product and our processes so that we have a sustainable future," Cischke said.


Mulally said the new position shows Ford's commitment to the environment. He said he believes global warming is real and needs to be addressed.


"The vast majority of the data indicates that the temperature has increased," he said. "I believe the correlation of the analysis that said that's mainly because of greenhouse gases keeping the heat in."


He also said it makes good business sense to put out environmentally sound products, which are becoming more popular with consumers.


But in the 2006 Environmental Protection Agency corporate average fuel economy rankings, Ford had the second-lowest fuel economy at 19.7 mpg. DaimlerChrysler AG was the worst at 19.1 mpg, while Honda Motor Co. led all manufacturers with 24.2 mpg.


Cischke said Ford is hurt by its product mix that leans more toward heavy trucks, but it does well in many categories.


"We know that fuel economy is an important attribute to our customers," she said. "We've set some pretty aggressive goals for ourselves along that line. We know how important it is going into the future."


David Friedman, research director for the Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, applauded Ford for promoting Cischke and said it is evidence that the company is no longer looking in the mirror at the 1990s, when it made billions selling inefficient truck-based products.


"But at the end of the day they need to commit to significant increases in the fuel economy of their fleet," he said.


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