"We are ... I have this phrase that I use, 'operational readiness.' It talks to our shifting impressions for consumers - from Ford is a great truck company to Ford is a great car company," Mondragon says, adding, "We want them (consumers) to start thinking about Ford as a great car company. When they are looking for a car, we want to be on the radar screen."
Meanwhile, Ford still owes $34.3-billion) in debt - far more than the $17-billion that General Motors had when it left U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.
Paying down that debt is a major priority, but it won't happen overnight. Ford surely will issue more stock, but with 3.8 billion shares out already, Ford must be careful about tapping new investors.
The company also will phase out its Mercury division this year, which could hurt overall sales (although it stopped selling the Mercury brand in Canada years ago). And the Lincoln luxury brand, even though sales are up 73 per cent in Canada, is underperforming overall.
Moreover, globally Ford has plenty of work to do expanding into emerging markets. Its Asia Pacific division has 2 per cent of total industry sales in China - now the world's largest automotive market - and is behind its rivals there.
And, of course, the competition in Detroit has certain advantages, too. For instance, GM, fresh out of bankruptcy and starting to gain steam, has little debt and a more advantageous labour cost structure overall in North America.
Mondragon and other Ford executives are aware of these challenges, as well as what some say is Ford's greatest risk: complacency. To avoid it, Mondragon says Ford must stick to its knitting - to focus entirely on delivering world-class products.
"We've got four legs to our stool: quality, safety, fuel economy and technology. And those are the areas where we focus our business in terms of products," he says.
In Pictures, Ford's newest models for 2011 and 2012.
In this week's What Car?, a reader wants to buy the three-door Mazda2 hatchback which is currently sold in Europe. Can she buy one in Canada?