Ford names Jim Hackett as CEO, replacing Mark Fields

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Ford names Jim Hackett as CEO, replacing Mark Fields

Washington (AFP) – Ford Motor Company on Monday shook up its top management Monday, replacing Mark Fields as president and CEO with Jim Hackett amid declining sales in the US and Chinese markets.

Three new executive vice presidents were named to oversee global markets, global operations and mobility as part of the shakeup. The appointments are effective June 1. 

Hackett, 62, “has a long track record of innovation and business success,” Ford said in a press release, noting that Fields, 56, “elected to retire from Ford after a successful 28-year career with the company.”

Ford has scheduled a press conference for 9:45 am (1345 GMT) at its Dearborn, Michigan headquarters.

Hackett has led Ford’s “smart mobility” unit, which includes self-driving cars, since March 2016. He previously led a turnaround at office furniture company Steelcase.

“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” executive chairman Bill Ford said. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space.”

Jim Farley, a former Toyota CEO who has helped Ford to return to profitability in Europe as General Motors recedes, was named executive vice president and president of global markets.

A source familiar with the matter said most executives who were promoted by former Ford chief Alan Mulally, who led the company for eight years until 2014, are expected to either move or leave the group. 

– Slowing sales – 

These changes come at a time when Ford is going through a tough time. Like its US competitors, Ford faces its first downturn since 2009, after several years of record sales

The share price has lost more than a third of its value in three years and it was supplanted in April by upstart electric carmaker Tesla in terms of market capitalization. 

The group’s profits plunged by 38 percent in 2016, a trend that was confirmed in the first quarter, while costs exploded. As a result, the group recently announced it was cutting 1,400 salaried jobs in North America and Asia. 

Fields has led Ford for just three years and wanted to turn the company into a mobility services group in the hope of containing the Silicon Valley offensive in the automobile industry. 

Indeed, there is a race against time pitting old-school carmakers against Alphabet (Waymo), Apple, Uber and Tesla to develop and market the autonomous car by 2020. 

Despite the many investments made by Fields, investors prefer to bet for example on Tesla, which has technology in its DNA.

Among Hackett’s priorities are modernizing Ford’s business “to unleash innovation, speed decision-making and improve efficiency,” including through use of big data, artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and 3D printing, Ford said.

Ford named Joe Hinrichs, 50,  as executive vice president and president of global operations; and Marcy Kevorn, 57, to replace Hackett as executive vice president and president of mobility.

The ousted Fields previously led the group’s operations in North America and was credited with restructuring the European operations as well as Mazda, in which Ford had a significant stake.

Ford is facing its first downturn since 2009, after several years of record sales
Copyright AFP/File Mandel Ngan
Outgoing Ford CEO Mark Fields
Copyright AFP/File FREDERIC J. BROWN

 

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