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Bill Ford: Lower oil prices unlikely to slow green cars

Aya Batrawy
Associated Press

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — The executive chairman of Ford Motor Company said he doesn’t think that a drop in oil prices will dissuade people from buying fuel-efficient vehicles.

Bill Ford, the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, said the Dearborn-based automaker will continue to promote green technology.

“Fuel is a cost and anytime we can save our customers money, I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “I believe our point of view of greater fuel economy coupled with better performance is absolutely the right way to go.”

Ford was speaking to a select group of media in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, where the company recently established a business unit to serve the Middle East and Africa.

On Wednesday the company held the Middle East debut of its 2015 Mustang atop one of the viewing decks of the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The iconic Mustang is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Ford chairman has for years been warning about worsening gridlock in major cities. What’s needed, he said in a speech in Dubai, is a “leap in thinking” to develop technology that would help alleviate congestion.

“For most of my adult life I worried about how am I gonna sell more cars and trucks. But today I worry about if what if all we do is sell more cars and trucks,” he said.

“The entire auto industry needs to rethink its approach,” he said. “We can’t just keep making and selling automobiles the way we always have.”

He envisions a future in which cars send signals to one another about traffic jams and reroute drivers; spot potholes and alert authorities; check a driver’s vital signs and measure and filter allergens in the air.

He said governments will eventually have a role to play in these developments, but that “it’s early days yet.” He said work now is primarily with universities on vehicle-to-vehicle communication devices.