At first blush, it doesn’t make much sense…
Why would Ford CEO Alan Mulally – poised to break the auto industry compensation record of $73 million – diss the critically acclaimed new Fiat 500? Before it goes on sale no less.
Yet there the sandy-haired, former Lawrence resident is on AutoGuide.com bagging on the Italian micro stallion. Under a headline that reads, "Fiat 500 Will Fail, Says Ford CEO Alan Mulally."
"For all the hype surrounding the Fiat 500, Ford‘s CEO, Alan Mulally, has become one of its most prominent detractors, condemning the car to failure before it’s even launched," the story begins. "Speaking to the Italian language magazine Panorama, Mulally remarked ‘I do not see large market in the U.S.A. for a smaller car than the Fiesta. Those that tried failed.’ "
"While Mulally declined to comment further, it’s not unreasonable to expect such comments coming from the head of a rival firm. Not to mention, the smart fortwo has enjoyed dismal success in America, with sales dropping to a fifth of their highest levels in 2008."
Hold it right there…
Comparing golf cart-like, two-seat smarts to four passenger Fiat 500s getting nearly the same mileage is a reach.
Outside of the plainer, less-expensive Ford Fiesta, Mulally really doesn’t have much of a dog in this mini car dogfight. BMW‘s Mini Cooper wieghing in at $4,000 to $6,000 more for similarly-equipped cars is where the fur most likely will fly.
Besides, why bother?
Mulally’s got far bigger worries with Ford’s new Explorer.
While the Explorer is off to an excellent sales start, Car and Driver magazine averaged an embarrassing 18 miles-per-gallon with the new SUV, just 2 mpgs more than its predecessor.
That’s not likely to cut it in a $4 per gallon world.
Not when the 500 is pulling down between 30 and 38 mpgs with reports it may deliver real world mileage in the 40s.
So it kinda does make sense for Mulally to be a little resentful. Cause outside of the Cooper crowd, for the 500 to wildly succeed, the new Explorer needs to be a bust.