Motoring News: Ford chief executive Mulally in pole position to take over at computer giant Microsoft

Tesla takes heat over engine fire; Germany gets emission law deferred

President and CEO of Ford Alan Mulally is among the favourites to take over at Microsoft

President and CEO of Ford Alan Mulally is among the favourites to take over at Microsoft


Ford’s totemic chief executive Alan Mulally is reportedly one of the favourite contenders to take over at Microsoft.

The current chief executive of the software giant, Steve Ballmer, has already announced his decision to step down next year and Mulally seems to be top of the hit list being drawn up by Bill Gates and the Microsoft board.

The news will send shudders through Ford and its shareholders. Mulally is widely credited with turning around what had been a loss-making behemoth, shedding brands that were not seen as core to Ford’s business (Jaguar, Land Rover,Volvo, Aston Martin, Mazda) and being the only Detroit Big Three carmaker boss who didn’t need to get a bailout or a bankruptcy deal from the US government.

Ford has an unloved tradition for awkward, even disastrous changes at the top of its management tree, dating all the way back to the oft-delayed retirement of Henry Ford himself.

Not this time, says Henry’s grandson and board member William Clay Ford: “Whoever the next CEO is, it will be seamless.

“They’ve loved working in this style with this vision since 2006.

“There is no appetite within the management team for deviating.”

Mulally’s most likely successor is former head of Ford US and current Ford chief operating officer, Mark Fields.

Tesla takes some heat after fire involving Model S
High-flying electric car maker Tesla may have hit its first bump in the road to success with a much publicised fire involving one of the firm’s highly praised Model S saloons.

It was confirmed last week that the batteries of the car had caught fire during a crash, sparking fears that Tesla was headed for the same lithium-ion battery problems that have so publicly afflicted Boeing and General Motors.

Tesla’s share price dipped from $191 to $168 when the news broke, before recovering to $181.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has come out fighting, however.

He said that the car’s ¼-inch-thick underbody had been pierced by a pole that had fallen from a truck, adding that it was “safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid”.

Mr Musk also said that the owner of the car in question had been in touch with Tesla about the incident and remained “a big fan” of the Model S.

Controversially, Mr Musk criticised the actions of the fire department crews who attended the crash, saying that because they punched holes in the battery compartment cover to pour cooling water over the lithium cells, flames were able to spread more easily to the rest of the car.

Germany gets EU to defer implementing emissions rule
The German government has succeeded in having a decision on the implementation of the proposed 95g/km fleet average emissions laws deferred.

The deferment was agreed at a meeting of EU member states last Friday. The agreed limit of a fleet average of 95g/km (equivalent to 4 litres per 100km fuel consumption) is due to come into force in 2020, but Berlin now wants the limit to apply at first to only 80 per cent of cars, with the remaining 20 per cent being worked in over four years.

The plan has received the surprise backing this week of the the two major French car-makers, PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Renault. The move comes as a surprise as the French government has indicated its opposition to the German plan, and it is generally accepted that the CO2 limits will hurt the premium German car makers worse than anyone else. Environmental group Transport & Environment has said that the German move would increase an average car buyer’s fuel bill by €138.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager of Transport & Environment, said: “On the day that the IPCC says that man-made climate change is unequivocal, Germany plays hardball to give its luxury carmakers four more years to sell even more gas-guzzlers. We need ambitious fuel efficiency standards that save drivers money, boost the economy and reduce climate-changing emissions. EU countries must stand up to Germany and vote for more efficient cars.”

Lithuania, which holds the EU presidency, says that a decision on the 95g/km limit will be made at a meeting on October 14th.