Ford Motor Changes CEO from Jim Hackett to Jim Farley

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on All-Electric Mustang Mach-E - Debut November 2020

A Four-Door Electric Mustang, as ground breaking in its own way as the original pony car.

Ford Motor Company today announced that Jim Hackett, 65, CEO since 22 May 2017, plans to retire from the company. Jim Farley COO, 58, has been named the company’s new president and CEO and will join the board of directors, effective 1 October.

Under Hackett, Ford Motor has had a rough off-road ride during the move to smart vehicles that confused industrial companies confronted with a new world order consisting of Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Toyota and many others. Ford to this day continues to restructure operations and tweak the product lineup with mixed results. (Volkswagen Joins Ford by Investing in Argo AI, Carvana Launches First Vending Machine in California)

It has been an unsettling journey for shareholders, too, with Ford stock moving from ~$11 share to under $7 a share during the last three years.  Hackett is notable though for undertaking a monumental task – results still unknown – of creating a new Ford culture comfortable with external change while embracing internal reforms needed to respond to them. (Ford Motor Q2- Sales Drop -53%. Debt Grows $10B, Ford Motor Maxes Out Lines of Credit, Ford Posts Weak Q4 Earnings Losing $1.7 Billion, Weak Ford 2018 Financial Results Prove Need for Shakeup)

“I am very grateful to Jim Hackett for all he has done to modernize Ford and prepare us to compete and win in the future,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “Our new product vision – led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150 and Bronco family – is taking shape. We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much nimbler, which was apparent when we quickly mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic.” (All-Electric Ford Mustang Mach-E ‘SUV’ Debuts in 2020, Ford Bronco Sequel Appears with First-Ever Four-Door)

Farley, an automotive leader with global experience and a successful track record (He helped launch Lexus at Toyota), collaborated with Hackett over the past three years to develop and execute Ford’s Creating Tomorrow Together plan to transform Ford into a higher-growth, higher-margin business. (Ford Shakes Up Top Management. Again., Ford Shakes up European and International Markets as CFO Shanks Retires. Restructuring Continues as Stock Languishes)

“Jim Farley matches an innate feel for cars and customers with great instincts for the future and the new technologies that are changing our industry,” Bill Ford said. “Jim’s passion for great vehicles and his intense drive for results are well known, and I have also seen him develop into a transformational leader with the determination and foresight to help Ford thrive into the future.” Ford added on a hastily called phone conference that the idea of considering outsiders for the job was discussed and dismissed since the answer was already in house.

Farley joined Ford in 2007 as global head of Marketing and Sales and went on to lead Lincoln, Ford South America, Ford of Europe and all Ford global markets in successive roles. In April 2019, Farley was chosen to lead Ford’s New Businesses, Technology & Strategy team, looking at the forces reshaping the industry – such as software platforms, connectivity, AI, automation and new forms of propulsion. He was named chief operating officer in February of this year.

Hackett, who will continue as a special advisor to Ford through March of 2021, said the time is right to pass the mantle of leadership to Jim Farley.

“I have worked side-by-side with Jim Farley for the past three years and have the greatest confidence in him as a person and a leader,” Hackett said. “He has been instrumental in crafting our new product portfolio and redesigning our businesses around the world. He is also a change agent with a deep understanding of how to lead Ford in this new era defined by smart vehicles in a smart world.”

Said Farley: “Our mission is to improve the lives of our customers with products services they can’t live without… We are now a more curious, less insular culture thanks to Jim Hackett.”

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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