By on March 12, 2019

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 already 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]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

51 Comments on “This Is the Year, Ford CEO Tells Employees...”


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Whatever happens, the new Explorer is a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      Agree…and it’s good-looking cousin, the Lincoln Aviator.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “The new Explorer is a winner”

      That remains to be seen. By all accounts it’s not anything special. It’s just an update to an aging model. Nothing noteworthy in terms of innovation other than the outrageous price hikes.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Really EBFlex? It is an entirely new platform that switched from FWD to RWD and is available with 400 HP. But yeah, just a refresh lol.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          I couldn’t care less about 400HP, but the plugin hybrid version is interesting.

          Of course, it’ll be compared against the Pacifica Hybrid and the Model Y (which will be revealed on Pi Day).

          I’m not someone who would normally consider an SUV for my family of five (swinging doors, poor 3rd row access, and low MPGs are all big negatives in categories that matter to me), but I’m looking for a plugin vehicle with a trailer hitch and 3 rows. So, the Explorer PHEV will get full consideration!

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The PHEV Explorer won’t be available in the US initially. You’ll have to step up to the Aviator to get a PHEV on that platform in the US for the 2020 MY. Ford has said they haven’t ruled it out for the Explorer but it is not going to be available at launch.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            If Ford wants to sell me a vehicle, it’s going to have a plug. I already have a family hauler which runs on gasoline, and my daily driving would easily fit within a 30-mile range.

            I’m not really interested Lincoln, because paying extra for a Ford won’t impress my friends. The PHEV Explorer only comes in the Limited trim, so it’s likely to cost around $50k. That’s enough of a premium already — there’s no reason pay a 2nd premium on top of that.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          “But yeah, just a refresh lol”

          Who said it was a refresh?

          Ford updated the aging Explorer did they not?

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Liar.

        The entire body shop in Chicago has been removed along with many other items in the plant but yet it’s a “refresh”.

        New platform
        New engines
        New transmission of which is now RWD
        New sheet metal
        New glass
        HEV model
        PHEV model (export at this time)

        You know what was a refresh? The 2016 and 2018 models on the U502 platform. This new one has a new model designation of U625.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    How do you have a Mustang based crossover? Is that like a Mustang II? Take something cool and give it a minivan body style does not add up, being an EV just makes it market segment smaller, who are they marketing to?

    As is the new Blazer looks like it OD’ed on estrogen supplements, I hope that’s not the look they’re going for.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Reading comprehension much? The key word is inspired, there is nothing about being Mustang based. This is also nothing new. Ford introduced a Mustang inspired vehicle decades ago and created both the name of today’s most popular segment and brought it to the masses. That vehicle that was advertised as being Mustang inspired down to the name was the Bronco which of course is also returning with the new Mustang inspired EUV, which I predict will create that new segment name as well as bring it to the masses.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Didn’t mean to say based off of, clearly the ICE platform is unsuitable to just adapt a EV setup.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Ford has clearly been working on this for the entire design cycle.

          They’ve designed a longitudinal “modular 10-speed transmission” which can be the center of a hybrid drivetrain (the engine is a peripheral slaved to the gearbox) — or used in a conventional drivetrain. It also provides optional AWD.

          It looks like they’re applying this drivetrain to all of their longitudinal RWD vehicles: F-150, Explorer, Mustang, and Transit to name a few.

          Yes, they’ll need to save space for the battery. The battery is rumored to be near the gas tank on the Explorer. But this strikes me as doable if you plan for it from the beginning of the design cycle.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    As Peter De Lorenzo over at The Autoextremist says sarcastically (paraphrasing wishful thinking auto executives), “It won’t be long now!”

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      I try not to pick on Ford too much. Their nepotism is genetically encoded as well as codified in Delaware – as opposed to GM’s nepotism, which is self-imposed (Lloyd Reuss, Mark Reuss, tomato, tomahto).

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Ford On The Precipice Of Irrelevance”

    http://www.autoextremist.com/current/2019/3/1/ford-on-the-precipice-of-irrelevance.html?fbclid=IwAR16HJoZpVpTR6Qjgy9ZnlYP5sKkqbwNk9chrmUrLAvewLoQMb12vK4eYe0

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    The stock market long term is a weighing machine. Ford’s stock price will rise if it’s business improves, but there will still be a lag that will discourage the short term investors. BTW I have no direct investments in Ford. I guess three years will tell if Hackett’s plans are working.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Yeah, this is the year that the board and Bill Ford show Hackett (and hopefully Farley, too) the door.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This is not going to go well with Trump.

  • avatar
    V16

    I predict the ‘vision thing,’ along with a stagnant stock price will guarantee Hackett won’t be Ford CEO when 2020 arrives.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    The lede photo illustrates the whole reality. A great new Explorer bracketed by two clueless fat cats in silly vests. I bet those guys would struggle to find the dipstick under that hood.

  • avatar
    Joe Enrico

    I wish these companies would be more skeptical about jumping on the electric bandwagon. Reminds me of days of old when they knew something was a ‘sure’ thing.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    This guy makes Bob Nardelli’s time at Chrysler look wonderful

  • avatar

    *Ron Burgundy voice*

    I don’t believe you.

  • avatar
    jtk

    They look like they are fully vested in whatever Ford’s doing.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      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.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      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.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Corey Lewis: Not in 2015 it wasn’t.
  • Corey Lewis: Thanks!
  • Lie2me: Road trips are always fun, especially when the reward is a new car. Good goin’
  • Matt Foley: In the mid-90’s, I worked with a guy who flew out to Phoenix with $1000 cash and said he was...
  • bullnuke: Great story, Corey. Well done.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States