WASHINGTON – On June 11, Mark Fields, executive vice president, Ford Motor Company, and president, The Americas, spoke at "Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington?" held in Washington, D.C., by Brookings and Google.org.

"We're committed to finding technology solutions that will deliver meaningful fuel economy improvements — reducing CO2 emissions and petroleum consumption, and allowing our customers to spend less at the gas pump," Fields said. "We allocate more than two-thirds of our $7 billion annual Research & Development budget to that challenge alone."

Fields addressed industry technologies that "hold great promise and pose many questions." He detailed Ford's "multiple-path" approach, including plug-in hybrids; the manufacturer's EcoBoost technology; and a move toward vehicles that are more aerodynamically designed, provide increased engine efficiency, and are built with lightweight materials.

"Pursuing this and other advanced technologies requires us to collectively address the toughest challenges we face today: our economy, our environment, and our security," Fields said. "The auto industry and our customers have been hit hard by rising commodity prices. Record-high fuel prices and continued difficulties in the housing market have further accelerated the shift away from large pickups and SUVs to small and mid-size cars and crossovers. Concerns over climate change and energy security also must be addressed."