A surprising level of consumer confidence surrounding the U.S. auto industry points to signs of continued growth in the next five years, Ford Motor Co. chief operating officer Mark Fields said Tuesday in a speech at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.
Fields, citing a study that Ford commissioned by Penn Schoen Berland, said that more than half of surveyed U.S. consumers believe the auto industry has the same or more potential for growth in the U.S. than other major industries, including technology, energy and telecommunications. And nearly half of consumers think the U.S. auto industry will be better off in five years than it is today.
“We have every right to be very optimistic about the future of the automotive industry, in the U.S. and globally,” Fields said. “It is clear from everything happening this week in Detroit, and from developments around the world that big things are taking place in the global auto industry.”
Those big things include Ford’s decision to make the body of its legendary F-150 pickup out of aluminum, plus the introduction of transmissions with more gears and semi-autonomous driving features are examples of why so many consumers now look at the automotive industry as an innovative segment in the economy — and not the typical stagnant do-nothings of the past.
“What is most surprising in this data is that the automotive industry — which less than five years ago was struggling with declining sales, bankruptcy, government bailouts, and quality issues — is today seen by nearly 6 in 10 Americans as being a driver of innovation,” said Billy Mann, president of Penn Schoen Berland, in a statement. “Clearly, the American people believe the industry has rebounded and are optimistic about its future.”
Fields said Ford expects the global auto industry to continue to grow at a rapid pace, especially in markets like China and India. Ford expects global sales to be in the 85 million to 90 million range this year. That’s at least 11 million more sales than in 2010, Fields said.