Ford Motor Co. is keeping a close watch over the sanctions imposed against Russia for its dispute against Ukraine. "Some new sanctions were announced yesterday and we're trying to understand what those are," said Mark Fields, Ford's chief operating officer. "At this point, we don't believe it's going to hurt our business.
The issue we've been looking at is the overall health of the economy in Russia right now with the ruble weakening." President Barack Obama has imposed financial sanctions on Russian officials and billionaires close to President Vladimir Putin. Ford, which has three plant sin Russia, still expects the country to grow and become the largest vehicle market in Europe.
Fields, however, said that projection could be slowed by Russia’s weakening economy. Ford is now offering seven models in Russia, an increase from just two products in 2011. An eighth model is coming soon to the country, Fields said. "We just hope the situation there calms down and it ends peacefully."
Fields was appointed as Ford No. 2 executive in December 2012 after leading its North American operations from deep losses to record profits. His promotion places Fields in a good position to replace chief executive Alan Mulally, who has remarked that he will stay at Ford until the end of this year.
Mulally is credited with ending the backbiting culture at Ford and replacing it with a more collaborative one. Fields was among the first executives to switch to the more collaborative style that Mulally introduced. In 2013, Ford’s pretax earnings in North America surged to a record $8.78 billion thanks to strong sales of Escape SUVs, F-Series pickups and Fusion sedans. [source: Bloomberg]