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Ford, an example of sustainability leadership for next era of driving

William C. Ford II’s best decision as chairman of Ford Motor Co. was to bring in Alan Mulally as CEO in 2007 and watch the former Boeing manufacturing chief transform Ford from an also-ran into a global industry leader before he left last year.

But Ford Jr.’s “green” decision-making has been nearly as good. As CEO before Mulally’s tenure, and chairman before and until today, Ford has kept his company a leader in sustainability thinking and practice. He pushed Ford to produce some of the industry’s first hybrid-electric vehicles, for instance.

Another example of its leadership position is that the Ethisphere Institute selected Ford as the only automaker on its 2015 list of World’s Most Ethical Companies, which is based on a number of factors including the “corporate citizenship and responsibility” exemplified by Ford’s sustainability leadership.

But what exactly does it mean for Ford to continue this thrust? For one thing, the scion and great-grandson of Henry Ford said, while about 90 percent of Ford focuses on “the work that has to be done today,” about 10 percent of the company now is working on sustainable alternatives, on “how we get to this future… We need to make sure Ford is a respected brand in transportation in 20 years.”

The company also just announced that it plans to open up hundreds of its patents on electric-car technology to any and all comers in order to help accelerate the development of electric vehicles.

Ford also said that it will start offering a network of shared cars in London to attempt to tap into the growing market for on-demand driving.

The company also has unveiled two prototype electric bikes with sensors and software designed by Tome, Inc. And is teaming up with Georgia Tech to develop a parking spotter app that will help users locate a spot more quickly and directly – saving fuel and cutting emissions as well as advancing an important aspect of autonomous driving.