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How Ford CEO Mark Fields is Channeling Henry Ford to Solve Society’s Mobility Problems

Ford CEO Mark Fields has a vision for the future, and it involves more than just cars.

Ford sells about 7.6% of the world’s vehicles, a $2.3 trillion market, which is expected to reach $3.5 trillion by 2030, a nice trajectory for a mature business, according to Forbes. But the larger transportation market–what people spend to get around via mass transit, taxis, Uber and Lyft, for example–is worth trillions and growing. “We get zero of that,” says Fields. “The question is, how do we get more? Even if we get a small amount, it could be hugely beneficial to the company. This is not about moving from an old business to a new business,” he tells Forbes. “This is about moving to a bigger business.”

As Fields looks toward the future, the company announced on Monday that it would invest 11.4 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) over the next five years to expand research and development in China, the latest effort by the U.S. carmaker to secure a larger slice of the world’s biggest auto market, according to CNBC. Speaking at a corporate event in Shanghai, Fields said the company will introduce the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid, and the Mondeo conventional hybrid to the China market next year.

Meanwhile, back home on U.S. soil, Fields is pushing Lincoln, Ford’s key luxury brand. The prototype for the 2016 Lincoln Continental gradually awakens when it senses the car’s owner approaching. “Like a child slowly waking to his mother’s voice, the car’s LED headlamps blink on, then a lamp illuminates the ground beneath the driver’s door and soft lights slowly warm the interior, as if the car were stretching to begin a new day,” Forbes explained, noting that reviving Lincoln is an “urgent mission” for Fields.

With luxury cars accounting for one-third of industry profits, Ford’s lack of a credible premium brand means it is missing out on billions of dollars in extra income. But he knows it will take time. “With this sedan concept we really wanted to connote the future,” he told Forbes staff writer Joann Muller




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