By on April 17, 2020

Image: Ford

Few C-suites undergo renovations quite as often as Ford’s. The automaker’s executive ranks have again seen a revision, with the biggest promotion going to Kumar Galhotra (pictured above), formerly president of Ford’s North American region and ex-boss of the Lincoln brand — a role he earned considerable kudos for.

Elsewhere in the shakeup, which was ordered by recently minted chief operating officer Jim Farley following a 10-week “deep dive,” are promotions and additions designed, among other things, to sharpen “Ford’s focus on product and launch execution.” Among the new hires? A former Israeli intelligence officer.

It seems last year’s botched Explorer/Aviator roll-out continues to make ripples.

Ford says the shakeup, in addition to smoothing to future launches, aims for “fully leveraging smart, connected vehicles and big data to better serve customers; improving quality and lowering costs; and creating a dedicated commercial vehicle business in the U.S. and Canada.”

For Malhotra, the move sees the 54-year-old don the title of president, Americas & International Markets Group, with all those regional business units reporting directly to him. He’s also in charge of the automaker’s new commercial vehicle business in the U.S. and Canada. General manager of that unit will be Ted Cannis, former global director of electrification.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett heaped praise on Farley in a statement, saying the automaker is “moving with a renewed sense of urgency to improve the fitness of the business,” with a focus on higher margins and faster growth. This, of course, was Ford’s intent long before the coronavirus pandemic cropped up.

An endlessly sagging stock price and last year’s quality-compromised launch of the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator (which earned the company a grim fourth-quarter earnings report) saw Ford enter the new decade under a dark cloud. Given that poor stock performance as seen as the reason for former CEO Mark Fields’ ouster, Hackett has had to bat away questions about his leadership almost since the outset.

On February 7th, he announced the sudden departure of Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s former president of automotive, and the elevation of Farley to COO.

To help Galhotra, Ford has created the new position of chief operating officer for the North America region. Filled by Lisa Drake (former, and continuing, head of global purchasing), the job comes with a mandate to “help lead the push to return the North American business back to a 10 percent EBIT margin.”

“With Drake’s deep operational knowledge, she will further accelerate the transformation of the North American business through cash conservation and profit actions,” the company stated.

The industry’s ever-increasing plunge into the spooky world of data and artificial intelligence calls for someone with deep knowledge of such things to head the company’s efforts in that emerging realm. For that job, Ford brought aboard Retired Col. Gil Gur Arie as its chief of Global Data Insight and Analytics. Formerly of the Israeli Military Intelligence Corps, the 44-year-old Gur Arie will “lead the Ford team through the digital revolution and develop Ford’s big-data and AI strategy in the coming years.”

[Image: Ford]

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42 Comments on “Ford Shakes Up Top Ranks After Farley-led ‘Deep Dive’...”

  • avatar

    time for Hackett to Pack it.

    LaNaive has to go also.

    • 0 avatar

      The Auto Extremist has a well deserved loathing for Farley. People on the inside do not hold him in high regard either. And Hackett should probably Packett. Ford needs a car guy at the helm and someone who is respected among the rank-and-file in order to truly drive change.

      That said, lets see how the Bronco and new F-150 launches turn out. If Ford gets those right, then my faith might be restored a little bit.

      • 0 avatar

        Let me add, shame on the company who promotes a person who IS NOT IN high regard for their overall company deeds, not career kiss-ass deeds.

        Also, I’m not sure being a ‘car guy’ to lead a car company is universally beneficial. Take Mark Reuss for example; he has done little to make GM as solid at the benchmark: Toyota.

        • 0 avatar

          if you guys have all the answers, why aren’t you in the executive ranks at any of these companies instead of tossing stuff from the peanut gallery?

          “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, criticize.”

          • 0 avatar

            Those who can’t attack arguments, attack the proponents.

          • 0 avatar

            pithy quips aren’t arguments.

          • 0 avatar

            Another 7th Grade mentality response from JimZ

          • 0 avatar

            JimZ – you get a decently high level job at Ford and start tossing around solutions you’re only going to find yourself in the unemployment line. In order to fix a company like that you’re going to make A LOT of people look bad and it can only be done from the top spot.

        • 0 avatar

          Reuss is in charge of GM? When did Mary Barra retire?

        • 0 avatar

          What Mark Reuss has to do to accomplish that, any ideas?

          Or may be I put it differently – why Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda cannot match the “Benchmark” Toyota? BTW I own the real Benchmark AHB2.

        • 0 avatar


          Being a ‘kiss-ass’ is a prerequisite to being in any executive position at any level. For any of the US automakers.

          As for Reuss, his main contribution to GM is to provide the PERCEPTION of the proper enthusiast credentials to the automotive press, and in so doing, improve GM’s “street cred”.

          For example, he wrote a good piece in Autoweek about how he restored a 1950-something Corvette. Nice job Mark—but where is my enthusiast car?

          Automobile Magazine also loves (loved?) him, as the man who persisted and delivered the great Alpha (ATS/CTS) platform, and the V-variants.

          In all fairness to Reuss, GM is a big company dominated by the bottom line. As such, the organization lacks the vision and imagination to engage in a business proposition that doesn’t make money right away.

          What’s important (to him) is that he makes a lot of money, and he leveraged his family connection successfully, and he gets to (try to be like Bob Lutz and) play Mr. Big and appear relevant.

          This is not 1970, when his father was a player (and rising) at GM. GM ain’t what it used to be. Sorry…..

  • avatar

    It is interesting to watch Ford stock. How low can it go?

    • 0 avatar

      Does it matter? The Ford family controls the voting preferred stock, so there’s no real power over the company through acquisition of common. That must really bug the wheeler-dealers on Wall Street, so they downgrade the stock, even when the company was making serious money under Alan Mulally. Incidentally, does that guy know how to time his arrival and exit, or what?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @ Lorenzo could/would the extended Ford family sell their preferred stock to VW? I could see that happening if they each got a boatload of money. And Bill Ford got a seat on VW’s board. Ford lineup after the merge: F series, Expedition, Explorer, and Mustang. Sorry Ford mid and small size suvs/cuvs. Passenger cars? VW. Oh, and maybe Lincoln SUVs left. GT/GTI? R/RS? GLI/STX? It’d be a good fit.

    • 0 avatar

      It went to buck during the banking crisis and GM went bust. I traded those stocks then.

  • avatar

    Jimbo is preparing to take over the top job. That’s always been the plan since he left Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re probably right. Bill Ford made one good move, by removing himself as CEO, since he didn’t know what he was doing. He lucked out hiring Mulally, but he’s shown an inability to recognize managerial talent since Mulally left.

      Mulally only managed to get the corporate management cliques to cooperate on his watch. What he needed to do was break up the cliques and department empires, and fling that cast of characters to the winds, replacing them with talented managers and engineers.

      GM needed to do the same – they had department fiefdoms too, but the forced bankruptcy helped, and the old coot Whitaker managed to dump a lot of GM lifers before they could rebuild their little kingdoms. GM is a lot leaner than it’s been in years.

      Now their problem is at the top, with Mary Barra continuing the strategy she inherited of seeking profits in China while cutting plants and models to break even in the US, a strategy that looks shaky right now. We’ll see if she can come up with an alternate plan.

  • avatar

    Rubbish !!!

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I was a Ford guy for a very long time. But everything the company keeps saying about their priorities for the future reinforces my belief that I will never purchase a vehicle from them again. Smart, connected vehicles. Big data. No thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford makes two products I would consider buying: The F150 in 2.7T or 3.5T guise. And a Mustang GT (or Bullit or GT350).

      Their crossovers? Not so much.

      We shall see how the Bronco looks in the real world though admittedly my interest in SUVs has dropped since my aged parents no longer live out in the sticks. My time to go out on old roads (morel like ruts!) out in the woods just isn’t there any more.

    • 0 avatar

      “Smart, connected vehicles. Big data.”

      Seems they got the memo on buzzwords people were using 5 years ago.

    • 0 avatar

      I generally like the Ford lineup, and the F150 seems to be selling well despite the massive increase in warranty issues and resulting hit to Fords balance sheet.

      Statements like this scare me though: “help lead the push to return the North American business back to a 10 percent EBIT margin.”. This usually means buying ever cheaper parts from vendors and ever more dull plastic interiors professionally fabricated in overseas sweat shops… The new Explorer interior is nothing to write home about. Hopefully that trend is reversed in short order.

  • avatar

    “ex-boss of the Lincoln brand — a role he earned considerable kudos for.”

    On what planet has Lincoln been scored a success?

  • avatar

    Jump on the stock. It is a screaming bargain. Look at the dividend yield before the virus attack.

    • 0 avatar

      The dividend yield will probably be eliminated as a result of the virus. I wouldnt bank on dividends propping up the share price nowadays.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember when the share price was at $16, and hearing someone remark he’d “wait for it to drop to $12/share” to buy. Sometimes it becomes what’s referred to as “trying to catch a falling knife.”

  • avatar

    “fully leveraging smart, connected vehicles and big data to better serve customers”

    Translation – “maximize adjacent business opportunities to monetize customer data to our sole benefit”

    Their recent re-orgs smacks of throwing chitt against the wall to see what sticks. Doesn’t build confidence that they have a clue.

    But what do I know….

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “she will further accelerate the transformation of the North American business through cash conservation and profit actions”

    1. Ford will pummel their suppliers into annual price reductions. Margins must be increased no matter what the ripple effects are.
    2. Quality is Job #2.

    • 0 avatar

      “Ford will pummel their suppliers into annual price reductions. Margins must be increased no matter what the ripple effects are.”

      One problem is there is no or very poor linkage between the bill of material savings and any resultant increase in downstream expense. In my business, relentlessly squeezing a supplier meant the component barely met spec. That results in 100% incoming acceptance testing to verify some seemingly insignificant change didn’t drive it outside the limits. Then our customer asks why the product they just received doesn’t perform as well as the units they bought last year so it gets tested again at the unit level just to insure it barely meets those limits. And Purchasing pats themselves on the back.

      I guess it’s OK in the car biz until the ignition switch shuts off when you hit a bump…..

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        The last Ford CEO to pursue such a strategy of leaning hard on suppliers was Jacques Nasser. As a result, my 2003 Ranger – which I truly loved – was a mess.

        The body, chassis, engine and transmission were top notch. But almost every other component that came from the outside failed, sometimes more than once. Front-end pieces, shocks, alternator, power-steering pump, and much more.

        When I realized that I had paid enough in repairs to fund new-car payments for more than a year, I traded it in. As a result, it was the last Ford I owned. I’m sure other owners from that period reacted similarly.

        That’s what leaning hard on suppliers will get you.

      • 0 avatar

        But many Ford components already barely met spec judging from the interior fit and finish of the new Explorer and the launch problems with assembly of those. Maybe the strategy is to use even more parts-bin engineering and inexpensive generic off-the-shelf components. Back to the days of “cheap and cheerful”.

  • avatar

    >>The industry’s ever-increasing plunge into the spooky world of data and artificial intelligence calls for someone with deep knowledge of such things to head the company’s efforts in that emerging realm. For that job, Ford brought aboard Retired Col. Gil Gur Arie as its chief of Global Data Insight and Analytics.<<

    "Analytics" is the current fad. Used to be only the beancounters were taught that the numbers told them everything they needed to know. The B-school I graduated from 40 years ago keeps sending me their magazine, and fishing for donations. The latest issue was about how they are all in on analytics, and force feeding it to everyone, regardless of their concentration. Just what we don't need. Marketing and management people thinking like beancounters.

  • avatar

    At Ford, all I see is a bunch of suits milling around lost. Farley’s only in it for himself by all accounts because he admits he’s a genius. Leading this disjointed lot down the garden path is that striking intellectual, Dr Hackett aka Professor Moonbeam. He loves to playfully swat insects and smell the roses as he wanders philosophically through the tulips.

    If it weren’t for Ford’s daily crew of regulars turning up at work, dialling out the horse manure from above and just getting on with it, there’d be nothing to make or sell. The brains trust, ain’t. And the biggest dope of all is Henry for hiring this crew of buffoons to walk around looking important, their mouths issuing forth market speak.

  • avatar
    Rich Fitzwell

    I read a depressing article on Forbes asking if Ford was readying itself to sell to VW.

    Ugh, would hate to see that happen.

  • avatar

    “and last year’s quality-compromised launch of the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator”

    It should be noted that the issues with the Explorer and MKExplorer go way beyond launch…especially for the Explorer.

    Extremely low quality inside and out, awful power train (2.3L) that drinks fuel, poorly programmed transmission, awful infotainment (Apple CarPlay crashing regulary), etc.

    It’s far worse than the Traverse and every other mid-sized/large SUV on the market.

    “8th Place Ford Explorer
    It’s new to market, but the Ford seems like it was built ages ago. Its price ladder doesn’t speak well to value.”

    “Third Place: Ford Explorer
    Once the pioneer and now the follower, the Explorer is riding on its brand name. The base-level Ford is, indeed, very roomy, and most comfortably seats six, but when there are mid- and top-level seven- and eight-passenger 3-row SUVs available for the same cost, it’s just no longer competitive. The Explorer’s driveline and chassis were outclassed by a comparatively ancient Honda. In what should have been a resounding victory, the Explorer fell short of expectations as well as segment norms for a 3-row SUV in terms of advanced safety systems, fuel economy, and performance.”

    “But despite being brand new in almost every way, the Explorer feels like a step backward for Ford. The biggest reason for this is interior quality, or rather, a serious lack thereof. Inside, there is an abuse of hard, scratchy plastics on the doors and dash, leatherette materials that feel more like rubber than leather, and a myriad of mismatched panels and exposed wiring that belie the Explorer’s price tag. The seats in particular suffer from this lack of quality. The leatherette Ford used to cover them is vegan, and they feel entirely synthetic as a result. Road tester Chris Walton described them as “gooey.”

    Turn the Explorer on, and the quality control problems extend beyond the Ford’s physical faults. Ford’s Sync3 infotainment was buggy in this particular tester—even Apple CarPlay was reluctant to work properly. In my four days with the car, CarPlay crashed eight times, most frequently right after startup—and that was just while I was driving it.”

    • 0 avatar

      Perfection is overrated. Soft squeezable plastics only warm the heart so much. It could be that the new Explorer is the perfect balance between luxury car and farm truck.

      Hold on, it sounds like that’s exactly what Ford was shooting for. And it looks like the new Explorer will greatly outsell the old one, adjusted for pandemic.

      “The Explorer” is meant to be truck based, sitting on an actual frame, 2-speed 4wd, and not totaled after a minor crash. That could mean nothing to you.

      Except law enforcement, taxis, and many others can finally phase out their aging/decrepit Crown Vics. Consider a possible 400 HP/415 Tq PPV “Interceptor” Explorer for general consumption.

      Yeah Ford needs to get sorted, but apparently you missed the article (you were sure silent for once on a Ford article) where they’re up 30 billion dollars plus a 15B credit line. Toyota is around 60B and sinking.

  • avatar

    I had owned Ford products since my first car in 1980 was a 1964 Ford Falcon I made into a daily driver. For decades I bled Ford blue, but as my last new Ford (a 1997 Ford Escort) started to show its age after 178k miles in late 2018, I was shopping for a vehicle to replace the Escort. I did the unthinkable – I researched every product in the compact car class (I loathe CUV’s and SUV’s).

    I quickly ruled out Toyoduhs and Honduhs because their price premium made no sense as the newer products were decidely low rent feeling. I ruled out Nissan as they were just junk.

    I have to preface that I wanted a manual transmission. Ford had the Focus and Fiesta but these cars were not very roomy and the DCT transmission fiasco was tanking resale values even on manuals. I could buy low, but I was afraid that I’d get the floor pulled out later on. I dismissed Ford right there.

    What was eye-opening was how much improved Hyundai/Kia hd become since I had last seen one. The prices on the used car market had already taken out the depreciation, so I settled on something 2016 or newer – and I managed to find a 2016 Hyundai Elantra with 21k miles and a manual transmission. It had been a fleet car (not rental) and looked brand new inside and out. For right around $12k, I replaced my Escort with this Hyundai in January 2019.

    I’ve put about 14k miles on it since and this car has been amazing on fuel economy (averaging 43 mpgs) and has room galore on the inside. I love the styling of the car (before they dumbed it down the next year). I could not be happier and now will be a Hyundai/Kia buyer and not a Ford one.

    Ford abandoned cars and they lost me as a buyer. I will refuse to buy a CUV/SUV – and even if my next purchase is a hybrid, I’ll only consider a car – and Hyundai and Kia have not forgotten that segment.

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