Union leader, Ford call for green progress in Detroit

Could Big Auto be shifting gears? Speaking at a business conference on Michigan’s (car-free) Mackinac Island yesterday, Ford Motor Company Chair Bill Ford Jr. and United Automobile Workers President Ron Gettelfinger both addressed the need for Detroit to get with the green program. “Unfortunately, there is an impression among the car-buying public that the Big Three build nothing but gas guzzlers, while Toyota is a division of Greenpeace,” Gettelfinger said. “If the auto industry continues to be seen as dragging its feet on environmental issues, it’s going to hurt our brands and vehicles in the marketplace.” Ford said his company will push to fight that perception, and got in a little told-you-so moment: “When I talked about the environment 20 years ago — or frankly even five years — many people thought I was eccentric at best or perhaps incredibly naive.” With a key Senate debate on fuel economy standards set to begin June 11, Ford and other automakers are hoping to find a workable solution.