WAYNE, Mich. -- Ford's CEO Alan Mulally spoke to reporters from the company's Wayne, Mich., factory Friday and offered an upbeat outlook on the economy: "We are banging around the bottom right now. All the data says the economy is beginning to improve."
A better economy is what any business in the auto industry would hope for, after enduring a depressing 2009 that saw layoffs, bankruptcies, idling factories and a host of unsuccessful attempts to execute business plans.
Just this morning, General Motors said it would shut down iSaab after repeated attempts to find a buyer before the end of the year failed.
Ford seems to fare better than some of its major rivals. The company didn't need financial aid from the federal government, unlike GM and Chrysler. Ford posted a net income of $997 million for the third quarter of this year when many Wall Street analysts had expected to see losses.
Ford, GM and Chrysler have received federal grants to develop and build electric cars and components, and each has done its fair share of marketing its efforts to produce fuel-efficient vehicles.
But Mulally reiterated on Friday what he had said previously: Ford's main focus in the near term will not be about these electric drives, even though the carmaker does plan to launch plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in the coming years.
"Our fundamental platform will be based in the internal combustion engines," he said.
The company plans to use a four-cylinder version of its EcoBoost engine in 2010. Ford said EcoBoost could improve gas mileage by 20 percent while reducing each car's tailpipe emission by 15 percent. And it's more powerful than regular four-cylinder engine.
EcoBoost is set to power around 90 percent of Ford's new cars by 2011.
Editor-in-Chief Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.