This Is the Year, Ford CEO Tells Employees

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
this is the year ford ceo tells employees

Of all the Big Three domestic automakers, Ford’s direction seems the most ambitious and confusing. Since taking the helm less than two years ago, CEO Jim Hackett has tried to articulate his vision for both the company and the country’s future roads, sometimes with head-scratching results.

There’s no doubt that change is afoot. The company has already ceased production of all but one of its non-Mustang passenger cars and taken the first steps to getting its lagging overseas operations in order. But 2019 is the pivotal year, Hackett said in a memo to employees. For the sake of Hackett’s future, it had better be.

In the memo, obtained by The Detroit News, Hackett said 2019 is when the automaker turns the corner “toward a really bright future.”

He acknowledged that change can be slow to come, but it doesn’t come at all without a plan. In Ford’s case, that plan is an $11 billion roadmap to invest in electrification and autonomous driving, turn around its Chinese, South American, and European businesses, and reduce its employee headcount. Overseas, action has a lready been taken, most recently in Brazil. Its planned global workforce reduction remains hazy in scope, but analysts expect a major cull in salaried employees.

Hackett says the company will reveal the size of layoffs by mid-2019, adding that that the job cull is the price it must pay for adding so many new employees after the recession (only to ultimately miss targets).

“It’s natural for people on the inside and outside to raise doubts and ask tough questions as they seek clarity and certainty about our future,” Hackett wrote in his memo. “This is not a Ford phenomenon by the way. Many pundits dismissed Fiat Chrysler as a lost cause coming out of Chapter 11 and predicted Tesla would go bankrupt years ago.”

Next year’s introduction of a long range, Mustang-inspired electric crossover will be accompanied by the return of the Ford Bronco and a unibody crossover that looks to be a brawnier version of the Escape. A new Ranger will be joined by revamped Super Dutys, vans, and medium-duty trucks for 2020 and 2021.

While Ford employees may need reassurance that the automaker really does need to invest in, say, e-scooter companies in order to keep pace with upstart rivals, convincing Wall Street of the company’s viability is proving a tough sell. The automaker’s stubbornly depressed stock is an anvil hanging over Hackett’s head. Ford shares are trading lower than they were at this time last year, and lower still than in 2017.

For his future to be secured, Hackett must return upward momentum to the company’s share price.

[Image: Adam Tonge/TTAC]

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4 of 51 comments
  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Mar 12, 2019

    Comparisons to FCA... Many industry and financial sector experts predicted only Jeep and Ram had value and would survive. Only RAM and Jeep are receiving investment for the future. Dodge, Chrysler, FIAT are all on life support in respect to age of product. Alfa is receiving billions invested and new product though it's performance is just a bit better than 1976 Buccanneers.

    • Hummer Hummer on Mar 12, 2019

      Chrysler just had half its product line updated, what are you talking about. ;) Apparently I found out that our local Fiat dealer shut its doors, as for Dodge, it’s essentially a halo brand to get people into dealerships. Of course half of those people end up buying Rams but it works out.

  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Mar 12, 2019

    Ford will be fine as long as they can focus on the products that matter and stop pumping the BS money shedding mobility nonsense. Focus (ha) on being a car err, light truck, company and deliver what matters. Forget about techwashing the company and change the name to F150 Motor Company right now.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 13, 2019

      The "F" in F150 stands for Ford. As long as the chairman is addressed as Mister Ford, it will remain a family business. Over the last century-plus, that's been both a blessing and a curse. We'll see which it is in the coming years.

  • Bobbysirhan Next thing you know, EV drivers will be missing the freedom to travel on their own schedules instead of their cars'.
  • Cprescott I'm not surprised by this behavior - it is consistent with how owners of Honduhs, Toyoduhs, or Mazduhs drive. Without fail, these are the consistently obtuse drivers on the road.
  • MaintenanceCosts Timely question as this happened to me just this morning. The answer was "my kids were engaged in a stupid fight in the back seat." I was trying to drive and keep them from killing each other at once, and I cut off a pedestrian in a crosswalk while making a left turn. Thankfully I wasn't close enough to create serious danger, but it was a jerk driving move.
  • Dave M. "81 million supposedly". Landslide according to some statisticians.
  • SCE to AUX I drive an electric Hyundai, so by definition I am a Bad and Annoying Driver.