DEARBORN, Mich. -- As the Detroit auto companies contend with their worst financial crisis in decades, the most famous American auto executive has stayed largely out of sight. But William C. Ford Jr., the executive chairman and scion of the founding family of the Ford Motor Company, has been preparing for a bigger role in the industry's plan for survival.
Mr. Ford has been working behind the scenes, meeting one-on-one with Mr. Obama in August, conferring with his senior economic advisers, and teaming up with Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan to push a vision of a leaner, greener auto industry.
With Detroit on the brink of disaster, the great-grandson of Henry Ford could play a critical role in how the Obama administration decides to assist the companies financially and shape broader energy policies.
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