After a day of speculation, automaker Ford has announced a significant regime change to underscore its ambitions in connected and self-driving cars: Jim Hackett — who had been running Ford’s Smart Mobility business — is taking over as the company’s CEO, replacing Mark Fields, who is retiring.
The move is a bold attempt to push Ford into what many see as the next generation of automaking, an area Ford has been criticised for not attacking as well as competitors like GM, and upstarts like Tesla, never mind the likes of Google and Uber. Its stock price, which is lingering around $11, down from lofty heights of $36 in 1999-2000, underscores that.
“I am so excited to work with Bill Ford [Ford’s chairman] and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders. I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period.”
“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” Ford said in a statement. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space. He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business.”
Ford said Hackett — a former CEO of office furniture company Steelcase before he joined Ford — will be focusing on operational changes, and more product launches; weeding out unprofitable areas and modernizing the business around new innovations around big data, AI, robotics and so on; and focusing on culture changes.
In addition to Hackett, there were some other changes. Jim Farley was named president and EVP, Global Markets; Joe Hinrichs is appointed EVP of Global Operations; and Marcy Klevorn EVP and president, Mobility
Fields had been in the role since July, 2014, and has been working for Ford in a variety of roles since 1989.
More to come.
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