The eco-friendly McKinley House in Venice was the venue for a lunch co-hosted by William Clay “Bill” Ford, great-grandson of Henry, and Ford brand ambassador Ryan Seacrest to familiarize Hollywood with the carmaker’s evolving green strategy. On hand were Hollywood environmentalists, social entrepreneurs and executives including television producer Brad Bell, film producer Peter Glatzer, co-founder of the SHFT environmental web site, and actor Peter Horton.
Like Audi, which staged a remarkable sales surge after engaging the Industry in its marketing, Ford knows that Hollywood affords a way to reach media influentials who can change the public discourse of a brand, and the lunch was an opportunity for Ford to present its green bona fides in a town overrun with Priuses.
Seacrest introduced Bill Ford by saying that after a trip to Dearborn a year and a half ago, he was struck by the size of the carmaker’s green automotive fleet and the enthusiasm of their employees who “want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Seacrest said. “What impresses me is their commitment to sustainability.”
Ford recently refreshed their lineup with array of small, green cars like the C-Max, which comes in both Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid flavors. These new Fords feature greener drivetrains: hybrids, gas/electric plugins, pure electrics and Ford’s new turbocharged EcoBoost engines, which match the horsepower of larger engines but consume less gas and have fewer emissions. Good founder Ben Goldhirsch, who drives a C-Max told Ford, “I bought a C-Max in December and I’ve filled it up three times since then.”
Ford laid out the carmaker’s green strategy, which builds on his much-heralded TED talk on Global Gridlock. In 2006, Ford said, the company decided it “wanted to be the fuel economy leader in every category we compete in,” as well as the leader in technology, safety, engine and entertainment technologies. “We doubled down when our competitors were cutting back,” Ford added, “I think in my lifetime we will have a truly clean automotive fleet.
On the affordability of green cars, Ford said, “Our prices are still not where we’d like them to be but they're better than most. The cost of technology is still stubbornly high.”
When asked about producing more pure electric cars, Ford said, “I think it makes sense, but we think about that if we do, how will we power the power plants since there will be increased electricity demand.” The paucity of electric charging stations, he said, underscored the need for a nation energy policy to the issue. Still, Ford added, “I think in my lifetime, we will have a truly clean automotive fleet.”
Also attending were Ford family members Al Uzielli and Henry Ford III as well as Global Green CEO Matt Petersen, CAA’s Steve Lashever, Kelly Meyer, Anna Getty, Control Room’s Kevin Wall, producer Lawrence Bender and Adam Sher and Kelly Mullens Brown, both of Ryan Seacrest Productions.