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Ford CEO focusing on business, not skittish investors

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company just can't seem to get investors to believe.

The company likely had its most profitable year ever in 2015.

On Tuesday, Ford announced a special dividend supplement of a billion dollars. 

And its stock fell. 

At the 2016 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, Ford CEO Mark Fields said he is not discouraged, despite the company's persistently low stock price on average.

Fields thinks investors will eventually come around, especially if they become convinced Ford is better prepared for the next recession.  The automaker barely survived the Great Recession with the help of a huge private loan, leveraged with the Blue Oval trademark.

"To a certain extent, I think they (investors) are waiting to see how we do in the next downturn," he said.

Fields also said he looks at trends like autonomous vehicles and car-sharing as opportunities, not threats.

Ford has launched two car-sharing pilot programs in the past year.  Fields said the company has been working on autonomous vehicles for a decade.

But that doesn't mean Ford will stop paying attention to the business of making cars.

"We are gonna love our core business," he said.  "It's important to us not only for the traditional market on how people are going to  shop, buy vehicles going forward, but also when you look at these mobility services, guess what? They require a vehicle."

Fields pointed to the example of Apple, which added services like I-Tunes and the App Store to its core business of computers and phones.

On Monday, Ford Motor Company announced a new services initiative called "FordPass." 

Credit Ford Motor Company
A FordHub store, where people can use virtual technology to build a vehicle

FordPass members can talk to personal mobility assistants – FordGuides – to get help with mobility questions, like finding a more efficient way to get around or booking parking before reaching their destination.

Members can reserve and pay for advance parking, virtually build their ideal vehicle at one of several FordHubs globally, and receive rewards for FordPass membership loyalty.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.