Ford CEO Mulally: Happy to get past Microsoft speculation
"The Ford team has been laser-focused," Mulally said on "Squawk on the Street." "Clearly I am pleased to get that speculation behind us. I am absolutely committed to the Ford team and the Ford plan, and this year is so exciting for us."
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Mulally's comments coincided with the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where Ford plans to unveil a revamped version of its flagship pickup truck, the F-150. The shift to lighter aluminum construction from steel in the F-150 will help drive down fuel mileage, Mulally told CNBC, adding that Ford remains committed to making the most fuel-efficient trucks in the market.
"That will save us over 700 pounds, which then we can downsize the engines and improve the fuel efficiency," Mulally said. "But aluminum is, pound for pound, tougher than steel. I think customers are absolutely going to be value the toughness."
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Mulally also added that he wanted to increase investor-friendly dividends, even through an unforeseen economic downturn. He cited growing market share in China and said car buyers there love the Ford brand.
"Clearly our plan is to continue the dividend even through ... as strong a downturn as we had last time," Mulally said. "We're going to keep increasing the dividend because that's a very important part of the return to the shareholders."
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Despite a much-worse-than-expected December employment report released last week, Mulally believes the economy should see continued, if slow, growth, and that expansion in sectors such as construction and housing would help drive truck sales. He said Ford is still planning to hire 11,000 new workers, including 5,000 in the United States, and open several new manufacturing plants.
"Everything we see now between the fiscal and monetary policy is that we think the U.S. economy is going to expand upwards of 2.5 percent for next year," Mulally said. "In Ford's case we still have tremendous pent-up demand. We see a good, continuously expanding economy."
—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at
@jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."