Ford, struggling in a changing industry, replaces its CEO

Neal E. Boudette, The New York Times

Posted at Aug 05 2020 05:39 PM

Jim Hackett, the chief executive of Ford Motor, speaks at a news conference in New York on July 12, 2019. Hackett is stepping down as chief executive after three years at the helm, the company announced on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Michael Noble Jr., The New York Times 


Three years ago, Ford Motor brought in a new chief executive, Jim Hackett, to streamline the company’s inner workings and raise profits.

Now, after he achieved mixed results, the company is again turning to a new boss, hoping he can accelerate the process and finish the job.

On Tuesday, Ford said Hackett will retire Oct. 1 and will be succeeded by James D. Farley Jr., whose promotion to chief operating officer in February had fueled speculation that Hackett’s tenure was nearing an end.

“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 William Clay Ford Jr., Ford’s executive chairman.

Farley will take the titles of president and CEO, and join Ford’s board of directors, the company said.

Hackett, a former chief executive of Steelcase, an office furniture manufacturer, was named to the top job at Ford in May 2017. Hackett promised to revitalize Ford’s operations and steer the company toward vehicles that would generate profits — pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles — and invest in emerging technologies like electric and self-driving vehicles.

The company is starting to introduce some of the models developed under Hackett, including a redesigned F-150 pickup truck and a new series of SUVs under its dormant Bronco brand. The Mustang Mach E, an electric SUV styled to resemble the storied sports car, has generated lots of buzz and is set to go into production later this year.

“We have lots of work ahead of us to complete our mission, but thanks to Jim, we are a very different company today than we were three years ago,” Ford said in a conference call to discuss the leadership change.

Ford’s profits fell in 2018 and 2019, dropping to $47 million last year. This year, the pandemic has hammered its business, and the company lost $876 million in the first half of the year.

Farley, 58, joined Ford in 2007 from Toyota Motor, where he played a key role in launching the company’s Lexus luxury brand. Since arriving at Ford, he has held a variety of jobs, including running the company’s marketing, its European operations and a new business strategy group.

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