Ford Shakes Up Top Ranks After Farley-led 'Deep Dive'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
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  • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 19, 2020

    "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."

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Apr 19, 2020

      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.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Apr 20, 2020

    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.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.