Fordism as Ecologicalism



The foundational justifications of FoMoCo's new corporate environmentalism in the 1990s ties back to this kind of reflexive conservationist philosophy. With clear consummational commitment, FoMoCo's worldwide web site--fordenvirodrive.com--asserts: 'Our future is in the balance. It's time for all of us to recognize that we're part of a bigger picture. And it can be pretty overwhelming when you consider that how we live and the choices we make everyday have far-reaching environmental implications.'

Balance that with the desire to maintain our personal freedoms, improve our quality of life, and foster economic development, and not only is it overwhelming, it gets downright complicated.

At Ford, we're working toward achieving that balance. We believe that a healthy environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive goals. We believe that you can be both an environmentalist and an auto enthusiast.

Calling attention to the consummational qualities in its corporate production is an extraordinary gesture. This declaration alone suggests FoMoCo has adopted an unusual new strategy for its corporate survival, because its corporate environmentalism derives from a new ecological mentality shared by its top managers.

Ford Motor Company in 2000 is the world's second largest manufacturer of cars and its biggest maker of trucks. With almost 400,000 employees, its products are sold in nearly 200 markets all around the world. Its corporate marquees now include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury as well as Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and its most recent acquisition Land Rover.

The legendary off-road sport utility vehicle (SUV) maker. Along with its own new heavy-duty SUV, the Excursion, Ford produces the Expedition, the Explorer, and the new light SUV, the Escape. As its 2000 annual report asserts, "With the 2001 Escape, Ford's new small SUV, Ford will offer the most complete line-up of SUVs in the industry. Our new SUV "No Boundaries" umbrella strategy communicates to customers there are no limits to where a Ford "SUV can take them."1 Of course, it is also the case that having this many Ford SUV buyers also guarantees that there should be no limits on Ford's growth or profitability as long as "Ford Outfitters" help customers find the right SUV.2 These existing products, and its latest acquisition of the Land Rover line, are clear signs that Ford seeks to dominate the world's SUV market.

While it maintains that it is "how we {consumers} live and the choices we {consumers} make everyday"that have far-reaching environmental effects, FoMoCo admits that its decisions as a producer also must balance a larger equation of whose elements are personal freedoms, quality of life, company profits, and economic development. Still, as its devotion to SUVs shows, Ford will achieve this balance on its own conservationist terms. " A healthy environment and healthy economy are not mutually exclusive goals," but their inclusive mutuality for Ford implies auto enthusiasm must remain the balance point for any sort of environmentalism. The consummational core of many transnational corporate enterprises is anchored by the values of sustainable development and health maintenance, which are, in turn, key components of FoMoCo's codes for performativity as a firm. In fact, FoMoCo's Health and Environmental Policy declares that "sustainable economic development is important to the future welfare of the company, as well as to that of society in general. To be sustainable, economic development must provide for the protection of human health and the world's environmental resource base. It is Ford's policy that its operations, products and services accomplish their functions in a manner that provides responsible for protection of health and the environment.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford, Jr. sniffed at manufacturers like Volvo as staid producers of boring cars in an era of hot Detroit iron and its big muscle cars. During the 1990s, Bill Ford, Jr. takes a different position: 'Look at Volvo. They've been building in safety for 70 years. That's the kind of ethic we want to drive the entire Ford Motor Company not just on safety but social responsibility, broadly defined.

Bill Ford, Jr. admired Volvo so much that the bought the company, knowing that it well represents the sort of ecological mentality he wants Ford to embody. This rhetoric sounds strange coming from the manufacturer of exploding Pintos and rollover-prone Broncos, but it also may indicate a new corporate strategy is evolving at Ford for today's postindustrial times.

Footnotes



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