July 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Ford Jr.: CEO transition 'perfect'

Bill Ford Jr. and Mark Fields at the Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn in June. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Washington — Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. said the transition to a new chief executive in recent weeks has been smooth.

Mark Fields took over as president and CEO on July 1 after Alan Mulally stepped down. Ford Jr. said the transition had been “perfect. ... The transition’s been great. I’m thrilled. So far, so good,” Ford Jr. said in a brief interview after a roundtable discussion with Gov. Rick Snyder on Michigan’s efforts to sell itself.

In a separate interview on Wednesday, Fields called the transition smooth.

He said July auto sales were looking positive. “I think it’s going to be a good month,” he said.

Ford said he talked to Mulally before he joined the board of Google less than two weeks after retiring from Ford. “I think it’s good for Alan. It’s good for us,” Ford said. “I think it makes all the sense in the world. ... He’s also interested in all that stuff. Alan’s a very forward thinking person. I actually think he’ll have a lot of fun. He’ll have a lot to add to them to as well.”

Ford said the auto industry is going to continue to change rapidly and that it is much better prepared for an inevitable economic downturn. “It’s going to change dramatically as we go forward — in terms of the types of jobs — even what mobility means will be completely refined in the next 20 years,” Ford said.

He said the automaker will be extremely careful before building another auto plant in the United States. “We are adding jobs and one of the things we’re not doing a lot of is new bricks and mortar, but we’re adding more people. ... We are a growing company. We’re growing in people. We’re growing in revenues. We’re growing in profitability,” Ford said. “It’s not to say we won’t ever do it either but we’re very cognizant of the fact that we need to fill up our existing facilities before we add new bricks and mortar.”

But the company is “conservative too. We want to make sure that this is sustainable.”

dshepardson@detroitnews.com