"It's not for others to disrupt us, it's for us to disrupt ourselves."
So said Ford CEO Mark Fields at the Detroit motor show, on the day his company made a whole host of technology announcements that will see Ford "go from an auto company to an auto and mobility company".
'Mobility' is the word that kept coming up, with Fields and chairman Bill Ford both talking about improving mobility to improve lives. But when you think about it, 'mobility' is a tough word to define and can come across as jargon. I had to look up what it meant...
I think in the context Ford uses it, mobility refers to anything to do with cars and getting around that's not the physical act of buying a car or driving it in a conventional way.
So it has launched a new programme called Ford Smart Mobility that's responsible for growing the mobility side of Ford's business. It will look at things such as connectivity, data and analytics, autonomous driving and customer experience. "It's a holistic way of looking at how we will grow in these areas, which are mainly technology ones," said Fields.
The particular juicy nugget in the announcements was a comparison with Apple. Ford wants to do to the car industry what Apple did to music with iTunes.
Ford pointed out that Apple was on its knees in 2000-2001, before rebranding itself and focusing on customer experience and innovation.
Ford hopes its own Apple and iTunes will come from its new Ford Pass platform. Fields said Ford Pass would ensure that Ford's relationships with its customers would be as strong as its products. "At the moment, we don't pay enough to our customers after the purchase," he added. "Great companies have better relationships with their customers and also better revenues and stock prices... We want to revolutionise the customer experience in the automotive industry."
The key part of the Ford Pass system, which will be free to use and is not just for Ford customers, are the Ford Guides, who you'll call up to find out how to share or borrow a car, pre-book and pay for parking, or help you navigate a congested route.
There's a touch of gimmickry in there, but it's perhaps just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the opportunity Ford has sniffed. According to Ford, global car sales are worth around $2.3 trillion a year. Transportation services, including everything from public transport to taxis and apps, are worth more than double that at $5.4 trillion.
Ford wants to be competing for those transportation services. Maybe Ford Pass isn't the next Uber, maybe it is, but Ford will continue to try to come up with the next big thing in the automotive world - away from any oily bits - before someone else does. "We have to do it or someone will do it for us," said Fields, who confirmed that the company had hired a lot of people in recent months "to help us become a leader in smart mobility".
All this does raise an obvious question: is Ford in danger of taking its eye off the ball of its core business? "It's a great challenge," said Fields. "It's a challenge how to communicate how we're not going from being an old company to a new one, but how we're going to be a bigger one.