Ford’s talking about the future marketing benefits of not taking the Federal Govt bridge loans like Chrysler and GM. Yeah, that’s true and possible – there probably could be a small market share gain to be had eventually by being the US automaker that “pulled itself up by it’s bootstraps”.
But there’s probably another reason. Any FedGov loans involve reporting to the new “Car Czar”. Right now that Car Czar will be SecTreasury Paulson. Paulson’s an ex-banker (actually there are no ex-bankers – once a banker, always a banker in thought). Ford has a two-tier common stock structure. One class for the family (can’t be sold outside) and one class for everyone else (read bankers, pension funds, and regular investors). The family class is a small $ portion of the company (sticks in my mind as around 5% -but don’t quote). But the family class gets way more votes – effectively around 40%. That’s how the family still controls the company. Banks, pension funds, and others have long wanted to end the two-class stock system at Ford. My guess is taking FedGov money would put it in jeopardy. The family doesn’t want that to happen. So Ford says no to govt $. Fortunately for Ford and the family, they appear to have enough cash to do it.