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COMPETITIVENESS STRATEGY NEEDED, SAYS FORD CHAIRMAN

 ATLANTA, Nov. 16 ~PRNewswire~ -- A national strategic vision for domestic issues is what America must have to preserve and strengthen its manufacturing base and restore its international competitiveness, the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) said here today.
 Harold A. "Red" Poling told a group of Georgia Tech students that America needs "closer cooperation between government and industry -- particularly in the regulatory arena -- to enhance productivity and overall efficiency.
 "Never before, except in war, have we had so many pressing concerns and so much opportunity to generate policy changes that will last well into the next century," said Poling.
 Poling said that, along with the "110 new names and faces" in Congress, President-elect Bill Clinton "brings a fresh perspective to many of the problems confronting the nation.
 "Clearly we in industry need to take full advantage of this new opportunity to work cooperatively with government to maintain America's manufacturing might."
 Poling said that "the primary responsibility for America's manufacturing vitality rests on the shoulders of industry.
 "We accept that responsibility, and we've responded to the challenge," he said. "Over the past decade and a half, the entire automobile industry has been going through the biggest revolution in its history."
 Poling told the students that America also needs individuals "who can master change...who can balance the interests of business with the interests of the nation and its citizens.
 "America needs the best business leaders," he said. "And we are counting on schools like Georgia Tech to provide them."
 Poling is joining Ford vehicle designers, engineers, marketing officials and others in visiting cities across America during the next few weeks to tell a variety of publics about Ford and its 1993-model Ford and Lincoln-Mercury vehicles. They also will listen to what people are saying about Ford's products and about the company to stay close to the customers and learn anew what they want.
 In Atlanta, Poling visited with employees, a vehicle-parts supplier, college students, Gov. Zell Miller, auto dealers and news media.
 Poling visits Atlanta at a time when local Ford car and truck sales are strong.
 Atlanta is home to Ford Division's Atlanta and Lincoln-Mercury Division's Southeast regional sales offices. Latest available data from January through August show Ford is number one in both car and truck registrations in the Atlanta metro area.
 The Ford Division Atlanta Region -- with 426 dealers in six states -- posted a 40 percent increase in retail car sales in October, compared with October of last year. That recent showing strongly surpasses the year-to-date sales increases, up 11 percent over that period of 1991. Regional Ford truck sales were up 48 percent in October, and up 20 percent this year. The Lincoln-Mercury Division's Southeast Region -- with 540 dealers in 12 states -- posted a 22 percent sales increase in October compared with October 1991. Calendar year-to-date Lincoln- Mercury car sales in the region were up 15 percent.
 Ford, the only major automaker to gain market share nationally in both cars and trucks in the 1992-model year, offers a variety of new vehicles for the 1993-model year.
 Ford dealers -- number one in the U.S. in light-truck sales -- are offering a redesigned Ford Ranger compact pickup truck for 1993. More aerodynamic and contemporary in appearance, the Ranger boasts new sheet metal and improved ride, handling, steering, comfort and convenience features.
 New Ford cars are highlighted by the redesigned Ford Probe, with striking cab-forward design; the Ford Taurus SHO (Super High Output), now built for the first time with an automatic as well as manual shift; and the Ford Escort, with design refinements and an innovative "One- Price" plan for all four body styles.
 Two all-new world-class products will lead Lincoln-Mercury buyers into the new model year and beyond. They are Mercury Villager, an aerodynamic, front-wheel-drive minivan, and the soon-to-be-introduced Lincoln Mark VIII personal luxury car.
 The completely redesigned Mark VIII, with a powerful 4.6-liter Four Cam 32-valve V-8 aluminum engine, will make its debut in Lincoln-Mercury dealership showrooms Dec. 26. The Villager, a new model recently introduced, is now in those showrooms.
 One of Ford's best-selling vehicles, the Ford Taurus, is built at Ford's Atlanta Assembly Plant in Hapeville. The plant has won Ford's Q- 1 quality award and has been recognized as the second most efficient auto plant in the nation, trailing only Ford's plant in Kansas City.
 "Competitors from the U.S. and abroad ask if it is high tech robots, new management theories or something in the drinking water that accounts for the excellence of this plant," said Plant Manager Bob Anderson, present with Poling at the news media briefing today.
 "It's none of those," Anderson said. "The real secret is our employees. I'll stack this Georgia workforce up against that at any plant in the U.S., Europe, or, yes, Asia."
 Another important Ford facility in the Atlanta area is Ford's new Parts Distribution Center (PDC) in McDonough. The 625,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Ford Parts & Service Division facility officially opened this year in August.
 The newest of Ford's eight parts facilities nationwide, it distributes parts to more than 900 Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers, approximately 200 Motorcraft distributors and approximately 600 other independent customers in the Southeast. Ford expects parts sales from this PDC to be more than $400 million annually.
 -0- 11~16~92
 ~CONTACT: Tom Boyle or Anne Booker of Ford Motor Company, 404-577-2277~
 (F)


CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Georgia IN: AUT SU:

EA-TG -- AT018 -- 1561 11~16~92 18:04 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 16, 1992
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