[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/31/kiran.painting.art.jpg caption="A talented fan, Mario Della Casa, sent Kiran this painting."]
Have you driven a Ford lately?
Mark Fields sure hopes you do. He's the EVP of Ford Motor Company and I spoke with him this morning. Ford is the only "big 3" Detroit automaker who isn't getting bailout money from Americans to stay afloat. As we've been reporting, the Obama Administration has ousted GM's CEO and given the company an ultimatum, "show us you're viable in 60 days or no more money." Chrysler's been told, "merge with Fiat and we want your plan to stay afloat in 30 days or else." Read more
So how did Ford manage to stay afloat in the worst year for the company in its 105 year history? And how will Fields continue to operate? Because he says his company is still passing on taxpayer money. Watch
So, as the 3 companies pledge to do what they can to stay above water, there are still huge questions that remain about their future. Where does the U.S. government draw the line on how involved it gets in the decisions of these private companies? And to what extent can the U.S. government back the warranties, and guide and finance the futures of the once mighty automakers? President Obama has said "These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own". So maybe 2009 will be a better year for them. But in the end, people have to want to buy their cars. And they need credit to finance them in many cases. And they certainly want guarantees that they are buying cars from companies that won't go under in 6 months.
So Ford is hanging tough for now and in the end may be the last man standing in the Motor City.