Ford boss dreams of the car giant's return to Ireland
Published 03/11/2015 | 02:30
The chairman of Ford has said he would "love it" if the car giant returned to Cork.
The company closed a manufacturing base in the city, but Henry Ford said: "I would personally love it (if we came back to Cork). Ireland is now one of the world's tech centres. In the short-term, though, I doubt it."
While the move is unlikely to happen any time soon, the comments may give hope that high-wage industrialised countries such as Ireland could still host car manufacturers in the future.
"Never say never," said Mr Ford, the great grandson of Henry Ford, in an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent
He was speaking ahead of an appearance at the Web Summit, which said that it will host more than 40,000 tech executives, start-up founders and investors this week.
Speakers include the founders of Instagram and Tinder, the president of Pixar and former chief executive of Apple.
Mr Ford spoke of his love of Ireland, saying: "There's so much transformation here. Our company and industry are changing at an unprecedented pace, and Dublin is the place to talk about this."
Mr Ford said that self-driving cars are "not that far away" and that the automotive giant is trying to crack down on traffic congestion in cities through the application of technology.
"Some 30pc of the fuel we use today goes on finding parking spaces," he said.
"That's just crazy."
He said that the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal "may" persuade more people to switch to electric cars.
"There are bigger drivers on this," he said. "These are mainly fuel prices and government policy.
"Customers ultimately vote with their pockets. In Europe, the taxation policy still drives acceptance of diesel."
Ford will mark 100 years in Ireland in 2017.
"Ireland is the only place where we're registered as Henry Ford and Sons," said Mr Ford.
"That's because the board didn't approve of Henry setting up here, so he went ahead and did it anyway using this name."
Mr Ford said Ireland's "vibrant" software community was one of the reasons behind hosting a global coding competition here with a €75,000 cash prize.
Other high-profile speakers at this year's Web Summit include Facebook's global chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer; Limerick-born Patrick and John Collison; and sporting stars such as Chris Froome and Edwin van der Sar.