Can Mulally keep Ford trucking?

As the other two Detroit automakers stand on the brink of bankruptcy after taking government aid, Ford Motor Co. (F), also struggling, seems in much better shape. CEO Alan Mulally, who took over the company over two years ago, is in no small way responsible for that.

Ousted General Motors Corp. (GM) CEO Rick Wagoner had overseen the company's decline over the past decade all the way to requiring Washington's help. GM now has 60 days to come up with a better plan or it may be forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chrysler has been deemed not viable by the administration unless it partners with Fiat. Meanwhile, Mulally has improved Ford, once considered the worst of the Big Three, to such an industry success story that it refused government aid (despite recording $30 billion in losses the past three years, half of them recorded in 2008). All that during the worse downturn in decades for the car industry, a downturn that has yet to hit bottom.