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Alan Mulally's Last Act at Ford: Change the World Again

Stocks in this article: BA F

The truck is being produced at two plants, in Dearborn, Mich., which is also Ford's headquarters, and in Kansas City. Dearborn will go first. "We are going to stagger the launches," said Mark Fields, Ford chief operating officer and Mulally heir-apparent. "That allows us to make sure we have good quality launches."

In a 2009 interview with TheStreet, Mulally declared that "the parallels between Ford and Boeing are tremendous" and referred to a dozen or more of them. Among the most important, he said, is "having a point of view about the future" and sticking to it. A core component, he said, is that energy costs will rise.

"It's exactly the same, at Boeing and Ford," Mulally said. "We believe at Ford that we are going to pay more for energy over time, which is one of the reasons that we are absolutely committed to improving the fuel efficiency of all of our vehicles, whether they are small, medium or large."

Perhaps, even then, he was thinking about an aluminum truck.

How silly the now discredited talk of Mulally going to Microsoft (MSFT) seems today, with so much focus on the F-150. Now it is widely known that Ford has been working on this transformational project for the past several years. In fact, development of the new truck was initially financed with a share of the $23.6 billion loan Ford took out in 2006, a few months after Mulally arrived, The Detroit News reported recently. Mulally pushed for the change in the truck, the newspaper said.

So put Mulally's options this way: Go to Microsoft, which involves switching to a new job with a new team in a new industry where you might spend a couple of years, or -- surrounded by a team you assembled, guided by concepts you have developed over decades, and informed by failure at a company that passed you over for the top job -- change the world again.

Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

To contact this writer, click here.

Follow @tedreednc

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