Celebrity Buddhists - William Ford, Jr.]
Chairman, Ford Motor Company, Grandson of Henry Ford

Motorists frequently joke that word Ford stands for Fix Or Repair Daily, Found On the Road Dead, or Fast Only Rolling Downhill. But the world's second largest car maker is headed by a Buddhist, Mr. William Clay Ford, Jr., who is the great grandson of the famous American automobile industrialist Henry Ford, the inventor of assembly line manufacturing technique. (Remember his father, Henry Ford II, fired Lee Iacocca, who later defected to Chrysler and saved the ritual Company from bankruptcy?)

William Clay Ford Jr., brings Buddhist philosophies, environmental concerns and grand aspirations to his lofty position at the helm of an American automobile Empire, Ford Motor Company. He had been a vegetarian for 10 years and embraced martial arts, acupuncture, yoga, as well as Zen, Tibetan and Vipassana Buddhism. In his office, there is his photograph getting his black belt in tae kwon do, putting one bare hand through a stack of six cement patio bricks.

The young Chairman of the second largest automobile manufacturer in the world (he was born on May 3, 1957) has a very great passion for the environment. "Nature," he says, "is where my heart is." His vision of a green Ford Motor Company, he says, will become the site of an industrial revolution, like what his grandfather, Henry Ford, had done. At the Rouge manufacturing plant, cars will be made differently. There is talk of making totally recyclable cars, made of parts being upgradable or reusable. Cars will be easily assembled, disassembled, and assembled again, like rebirth of sentient beings in Buddhism.

Many critics charged that auto manufacturers, including Ford Motor Company, are making huge profits from larger and larger gas guzzlers, especially SUV's. Ford admitted that the popular sport-utility trucks contributed to green house-gas levels and global climate changes and were a safety concern for motorists of smaller cars. Ford pledge to create SUV's that were cleaner and safe - less of a menace to smaller vehicles on the road.

However, in the wake of the Firestone tire recall, Ford also finds himself caught up in its biggest public relations crisis since the rear-exploding Pinto debacle of the 1970's. When asked where he is steering the Company that bear his own name, he replies, "I don't known if a company can have a soul, but I like to think it can. And if it can, then I'd like our soul to be an old soul - and everything that implies. I like to talk about things like values and soul. These things aren't transient. These are things you build forever."

Meanwhile, as he is having a long soul-searching talk with environmental activists about the end of the internal combustion engine, he is pushing for electric car (the THINK will be available in 2003 in USA).

For a biography of William Ford, Jr., visit Ford Motors Company's official website, http://www.media.ford.com

Reference: Business Section, the Ottawa Citizen, December 30, 2000.