Monday, April 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Companies

The current, and recently unthinkable, price of oil is hitting drivers and airlines very hard. One company outside of the energy sector has been seeing huge profits associated with the rise in oil prices. Boeing has a runaway hit with it's new, fuel efficient, 787 mid-size passenger airliner. It has experienced some delays with production that are being magnified by the amazing demand for their product. There are currently nearly 900 orders for the aircraft, which hasn't even flown yet. 1000 orders are expect by the time the first aircraft is delivered next year.

To put that in perspective, Boeing's last all new product, the 777, was delivered in 1995. It has also been considered a success, yet is has "only" 1060 orders to date.

Clearly, the rise in oil prices has triggered the demand for more fuel efficient vehicles.

On the other hand, the automotive industry is responding very slowly to consumer demand for more fuel efficient vehicles. Toyota has it's ubiquitous Prius, and VW just announced a new 60 mpg Jetta sedan, yet the big three American manufacturers have been long on hype and short on innovation when it comes to efficiency.

Both the 60 mpg VW Jetta and the Boeing 787 are fueled by a petroleum distillate called kerosene, rather than gasoline. We typically refer to automotive kerosene as diesel and aviation kerosene as Jet-A. Both vehicles will make their manufacturer's a ton of money.

Now, if there were only an American car company that had a CEO with both the knowledge and experience making money by producing more fuel efficient vehicles.

Perhaps the current CEO of Ford, Alan Mulally, has picked up some interesting skills from his previous job. You see, in 2007 Ford hired him from Boeing, where he was the President of their Commercial Aircraft Division.

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