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Mulally among 2016 Automotive Hall of Fame inductees

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford Motor Co. credited with saving the Dearborn automaker, will be inducted next month into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Mulally famously mortgaged everything — including the Blue Oval logo — to pay for a complete overhaul of the company’s product portfolio and avoid a government bailout as bankruptcy loomed. General Motors and Chrysler went through bankruptcy.

As head of Boeing Co., Mulally was hired by Ford in the fall of 2006 and was tasked with transforming Ford’s divisive corporate culture and rescuing the company from dire financial trouble.

“Ford was so close to the edge when Mulally came in,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with “Some of the recovery plan was in place, but he was the one who executed it. Were it not for him taking over, the Ford we have today … just wouldn’t be the same company.”

Mulally retired in 2014 and was succeeded by Mark Fields as president and CEO.

Mulally joins a 2016 class that includes Roy Lunn, engineer of the Ford GT40 that swept the podium at the 1966 Le Mans race; automotive safety advocate Ralph Nader; and Bertha Benz, wife and business partner to Karl Benz, founder of the German automaker Mercedes-Benz.

“We are pleased to induct four individuals whose entrepreneurial spirit helped create today’s global automotive industry,” William R. Chapin, president of the Automotive Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Each made their unique vision a reality through tenacity, creativity and forward thinking, traits that still drive the auto industry evolution today.”

The Automotive Hall of Fame is based in Dearborn and was founded in 1939. It has honored roughly 800 men and women who have helped shape the auto industry. The awards ceremony will be July 21 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

As part of Mulally’s corporate culture overhaul, he introduced weekly business plan review meetings with top executives that held them accountable for issues with product launches. They included a color-coded grading system — “green” meant a project was on track, while “red” meant there were major issues — to pinpoint when problems occurred.

He also implemented the “One Ford” plan, which standardized certain aspects of the vehicle and created a global architecture for Blue Oval-badged cars around the world.

“He brought an accountability to Ford that I don’t think existed before,” Krebs said. “Much of that discipline remains today.”

By 2009, Ford was able to post a full-year profit for the first time since 2005. It later paid off billions in loans early, returned to investment grade status, and regained full title to the Blue Oval and other trademarks and property it had put up as collateral.

In addition to its 2016 induction class, the Automotive Hall of Fame announced that Matthew Simoncini, president and CEO of Lear, has been named its industry leader of the year, and Mike Manley, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief operating officer of Asia Pacific and head of the Jeep and Ram brands, will receive its Distinguished Service Citation.

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Roy Lunn: Known as the Godfather of the Ford GT40, which swept first, second and third place at Le Mans 50 years ago over heavy favorites Porsche and Ferrari. Later at American Motors, Lunn developed what would become the lighter and stronger Jeep XJ (Cherokee and Wagoneer).

Ralph Nader: Author of “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a book that helped prompt Congress to create the federal safety agency that later became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Bertha Benz: Wife and business partner to Karl Benz, who founded Mercedes-Benz. Karl Benz, who died in 1929, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1984. The duo will become the first husband and wife to be inducted. Bertha died in 1944.