Presidential Candidate Tours Wayne Assembly
Republican presidential frontrunner John McCain visited Ford Motor Company’s Wayne (Mich.) Assembly Plant Thursday and saw first-hand how Ford is creating high-mileage vehicles to meet tougher fuel economy standards.
During a one-hour tour, the Arizona senator shook hands with workers on the assembly lines where the 2008 Ford Focus is built for North America and was shown four advanced-technology gas-saving Ford vehicles by Robert Brown, director of Vehicle Environmental Engineering.
The vehicles included a Ford Escape hybrid plug-in and the experimental HySeries Drive Edge, which combines a hydrogen fuel cell with plug-in technology. An E85 Ford Escape and an ethanol-powered Ford F-150 were also shown, along with a display about EcoBoost, the gas turbo direct injection technology that Ford is bringing to market this year.
Sen. McCain and his wife, Cindy, also received a quick demonstration of the Ford SYNC™ system, which allows voice-activated, hands-free use of personal music devices and mobile phones in such vehicles as the 2008 Focus and others.
“It’s the future here, and I’m glad they’re doing it here,” McCain said. “Very impressive.”
McCain also said he thought Ford and other automakers can meet the tougher new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards passed late last year.
“I think it’s an agreement that they can make work,” said McCain of the regulations, which call for a fleet-wide fuel economy average of 35 mpg by 2020.
Before his tour, McCain met privately with Mark Fields, president of The Americas, and Joe Hinrichs, group vice president, Global Manufacturing. McCain supports legislation that would allow California and other states to set their own higher fuel economy rules.
“Senator John McCain’s visit to our Wayne Assembly Plant was rewarding,” said Fields. "We were proud to show him our new Focus, industry-exclusive SYNC technology and several key sustainable vehicles and technologies our engineers and scientists are working on.
“And beyond that, it was satisfying to have him meet some of the men and women of Ford who are working so hard to turn the company around, to help grow his understanding of the issues we’re facing as a business and an industry, and to hear him say that he was interested in working together in the future.”
With dozens of reporters and camera people in his wake, McCain also participated in a short tour of the Wayne assembly lines by plant manager Dale Wishnousky.
At one station, he shook hands with worker Rachel Keith as a new Ford Focus moved slowly overhead. “That was so awesome, meeting him. He’s got my full support,” said Keith.
Touring the plant with Sen. McCain, his wife and their aides, was McCain’s daughter, Meghan, who is posting a daily blog about the campaign with two friends, Heather Brand and Shannon Bae, who are accompanying her. They call themselves the “Blogettes” and their blog is at www.mccainblogettes.com.
The trio was given a demonstration of the Ford SYNC™ system. They requested a Led Zeppelin song and sent and received a text message from inside a new blue Focus. Sen. McCain requested a song by ABBA.
“Thanks for showing us the technology; it’s awesome. You obviously make a great product at a great low price,” said Meghan McCain.
McCain said he’d enjoyed the brief visit and the products he’d seen. “It’s really helpful, it really is,” he said.
A planned question-and-answer session with the media at the plant was canceled by campaign staff. The McCain entourage then traveled to the Detroit suburb of Troy to meet privately with top auto executives and attend a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser.
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