Mulally on Ford Taurus, Boeing and Conan O'Brien

Mulally on Ford Taurus, Boeing and Conan O'Brien »Play Video
SEATTLE -- He used to sell the world airplanes. Now he sells cars.

Alan Mulally, Boeing Co.'s former top boss, returned to Seattle to showcase his newest pet project -- a car that was all but toast before he took over at Ford.

The Ford Taurus had a rental car reputation. The model was all but mothballed when Mulally took over the wheel at Ford Motor Co.

"Usually you have a 'rock star' during a summer tour. The rock star this year is the Taurus," he said.

The former Boeing president who keeps a home here in Seattle, is revamping Ford's M.O.

"You had expressions like 'found in the road, dead' or 'fixed and repaired daily,'" he said.

Mulally is a strong salesman who says Ford missed out on a generation of small car buyers. But Mulally says he has a strategy now of offering quality cars in every class. As General Motors and Chrysler looked to the government for loans, Ford had already borrowed money.

"We're here to support competition," he said.

Mulally says the cash for clunkers program was a boon both for the country and his company.

"We had three or four vehicles in the top ten," he said.

Based on the lessons he has learned at Ford, Mulally offered Boeing some advice.

"(Out of) every country and state around the world, this is the soul of manufacturing. And we need to do it, working together," he said.

Back in May Mulally delivered a Ford Fusion to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. So what does Mulally drive?

"I drive a different vehicle every night, Ford or a competitor's, because we said we're going to be best in the class. And when the president or CEO drives a competitor's car, everybody knows the competitor's car inside and out," he said.

And just like comedian Conan O'Brien, Mulally never gave up on the Taurus. But he would like to see O'Brien update his wheels.

"My dream is to get him into a new SHO," he said.

When asked what he'd like his legacy to be Ford, Mulally said he'd like to be known as the man who created a profitable and growing company that reversed a 60-year slide in the U.S. automobile industry.