By on August 4, 2020

Image: Ford

A bombshell just landed from Ford, as the automaker announced the impending retirement of CEO Jim Hackett and his replacement by Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley, effective October 1st.

Ford said Tuesday that Hackett, 65, whose tenure has been the subject of much speculation and criticism as the company navigates wildly turbulent waters, “elected” to retire. He replaced the ousted Mark Fields in 2017. In his place rises Farley, who also joins the company’s board of directors.

The company said the two men will “work together on a smooth leadership transition over the next two months.”

Hackett’s time as CEO came as Ford attempted to navigate a rapidly changing landscape, one where autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles are widely seen as the future of transportation. On that front, Ford made big strides, creating a division (Ford Autonomous Vehicles, LLC) aimed at AV advancement. The results of its electric car efforts can be seen in the upcoming Mustang Mach-E SUV, which heralds a slew of electric models from the company.

In the mainstream, last year’s Ford Explorer/Lincoln Aviator stumbles have been superseded in the public’s mind by the debut of the next-generation F-150 and reborn Bronco family, the latter being arguably the year’s biggest industry reveal.

“I am very grateful to Jim Hackett for all he has done to modernize Ford and prepare us to compete and win in the future,” said executive chairman Bill Ford. “Our new product vision – led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150 and Bronco family – is taking shape. We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble, which was apparent when we quickly mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic.”

Hackett’s top lieutenant appeared primed for the top job, especially after the ouster of automotive head Joe Hinrichs back in February. Roles and titles in the company’s upper echelon changed rapidly over the last few years, with Hackett seeking to streamline operations, placing an emphasis on speed, nimbleness, and efficiency. Still, all of these changes were unable to budge the automaker’s stock price, which continued the steady slide seen during the Fields years.

As shares declined, many industry watchers offered up the prediction that Hackett’s tenure would not be a long one. Hackett apparently didn’t see it that way, claiming in late February that his close relationship with Bill Ford ensured that he wasn’t headed for the door. We don’t know what transpired in Dearborn this week. It’s possible that, with the recent product debuts, the time was just right to leave on a high note. Hackett suggests as much.

In this changing of the guard, Bill Ford says he sees the right stuff in Farley.

“Jim Farley matches an innate feel for cars and customers with great instincts for the future and the new technologies that are changing our industry,” Ford said. “Jim’s passion for great vehicles and his intense drive for results are well known, and I have also seen him develop into a transformational leader with the determination and foresight to help Ford thrive into the future.”

ford

Hackett won’t disappear entirely after October 1st, a move that points to an amicable departure. He’ll serve as special advisor to Ford through March of next year.

“My goal when I took on the CEO role was to prepare Ford to win in the future,” Hackett said. “The hardest thing for a proud, long-lived company to do is change to meet the challenges of the world it’s entering rather than the world it has known. I’m very proud of how far we have come in creating a modern Ford and I am very optimistic about the future.”

For Farley, he offered the following praise:

“I have worked side-by-side with Jim Farley for the past three years and have the greatest confidence in him as a person and a leader,” he said. “He has been instrumental in crafting our new product portfolio and redesigning our businesses around the world. He is also a change agent with a deep understanding of how to lead Ford in this new era defined by smart vehicles in a smart world.”

Farley, 58, jumped ship from Toyota to Ford back in 2007. Stating that he’s “honored by the opportunity,” Farley said Hackett “laid the foundation for a really vibrant future” for the automaker.

[Images: Ford]

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38 Comments on “BREAKING: Ford CEO Jim Hackett to Retire; Farley Tapped As New Boss...”


  • avatar
    Matt51

    Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Bill Ford should “lead, follow or get out of the way” quoting Iacocca.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      Farley came from Toyota. He must’ve missed some of THEIR operating philosophy regarding quality.

      He has mastered the art of self-promotion. Over a year ago, a Detroit paper did an article that was more like an infomercial, fawning all over him.

      It was a few months later, last summer, that a Detroit paper (Free Press?) did nice, big expose on the craptastic, DPS6 automatic in the Focuses and Fiestas that shamed Ford into doing a little more to alleviate the damages (time, money) caused.

      Perhaps the fawning article was needed in order to soften up Ford to get the REAL story, complete with e-mails, of how Ford knowingly sold these POS transmissions–and thus cars.

      Hackett.. office furniture. Ford, to the credit of it’s design and engineering and manufacturing workforce (the sr managers and employees who actually have to WORK) came up with a credible car–the Fusion. Hackett didn’t update it, and killed it. People liked these cars (not me especially, but if something is generally liked, it is good). There are people out there who do NOT want a crossover. Ford dissed them. Thank you Mr. Hackett.

      The torch is passed from one sycophant to another. This is the corporate way.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    At least one of the B&B predicted he’d be out before 2021, but given his age, it’s not surprising.

  • avatar
    TStew78

    here is where they will miss hinrichs.

  • avatar
    AnalogMan

    I was one of the many, many people who thought Hackett would be out before the end of the year. It was inevitable. He was given one and only one mandate from the Ford family: jack up the stock price. As much as possible, as quickly as possible, doing whatever it took. He didn’t do that. Ford’s stock price is down about 50% over the past year, and is half of what it was 5 years ago. I’m surprised they gave him as long as they did. But then, he’s personal friends with William Ford, which is why he got picked for the job in the first place.

    Maybe this is one of those times when the stock market knew what it was doing, and saw through his nonsense of cutting employees, cutting products (like eliminating cars from the US market), and name games with the Mustang Mach-E. What company has ever shrunk to greatness? This is what happens when you take someone whose experience was selling metal office furniture and make them CEO of a car company. It’s a little more complicated to build, and successfully sell, cars than desks and filing cabinets.

    I don’t know if Farley will be any better. I’m sure he has the same single objective the Ford family gave to Hackett – get the stock price up. Fast.

    I’ll stick with the prediction I’ve spouted on about many times: Ford will be sold within two years. Maybe sooner, and the buyer will be either VW (most likely) or BMW.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Too bad his cousin Chris Farley is not around to star in some commercials…..

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Thank God. This guy had no idea what he was doing. The only question now is, does Ford have enough time and money to save itself?

  • avatar

    Les’see…

    Positioned the company as a maker of no sedans or hatches, just SUVs, Transit, and Mustang.

    Presided over tanking share values.

    And during low share value, discussed mobility and bikes. Like that really matters in times of low share value to Ford, the truck company.

    Stated that because of his connections he’d be secure in his job. I’m not sure why you’d say that out loud, it’s never a good idea.

    Truly, he’s been a bad pick for CEO. Such a sudden announcement does not sound amicable to me. It sounds like he only went peacefully after they sweetened the pot with some consulting work for a while.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I’ve worked at places where they “retire” people this way. Kind of sad to see – some actually think people will give a damn about their opinions as they’re shown the door.

      The “consulting” gig is more to create the illusion that they were not shown the door involuntarily. The big money comes in the retirement package, cashing out options, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I’d agree with everything but the first part. No sedans and hatches may annoy journalists and the b&b, but the people actually paying for new cars don’t seem to mind. I can’t remember the last time I heard a young family looking for anything but a ‘SUV’.

      • 0 avatar
        mfrank

        All you have to do is look at the prices on the vehicles at the Enterprise car lot to figure this out. It it’s not an crossover, suv, or pickup the public doesn’t want it. Hackett was right about the decision to eliminate cars. If the car isn’t named Camry, Civic, accord, or Corolla, the public doesn’t want it.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m no CEO man, but it seems a good idea to keep *something* in production as a backup for when the tides change due for some unforeseen reason or fuel spike.

          It’s happened before. Every other automaker has something passenger car-y to sell.

          • 0 avatar
            Chocolatedeath

            I agree Corey. I always heard but never saw proof that they were losing money on the Fusion. Their compact and subcompact offerings were not cooperative enough however the Fusion was a good vehicle that they could have made a great to very good vehicle but didn’t. So now with the Fusion gone they are going to use that as an excuse as to why they will get rid of the Edge in about two years.
            They will say they dont have a platform to share it with other than the Nautilus which will go away as well.
            He was not worth hiring.

          • 0 avatar
            Illan

            they already have that thing called ecosport for the next fuel spike…

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            @Corey,

            Their small cars are in Europe just waiting to come back if needed. It’s not as if Ford stopped producing sedans and hatches worldwide.

            Not that I expect they will need them. The fuel economy delta between a sedan and a crossover is as small as it’s ever been, and nothing like it was in 2008. Even if gas doubles in price overnight I doubt you’d see a large scale return to the sedan form factor.

        • 0 avatar
          NOPR

          If you look at the sales figures for any of the sedans you listed, you’ll find that the public doesn’t want them as nearly as much as they used to either.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          mfrank

          U.S. sales in the 1st half

          127,858 Civics down 24% YoY
          88, 754 Accords down 31%
          109,602 Corollas down 29%
          125,899 Camrys down 27%

          Car sales are falling. CivicAccordCamryCorolla sales are a shadow of what they were 5 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            mfrank

            Agreed. I remember when Accord and Camry were flying high. Five years ago it would have been conceivable that ford would cancel the Fusion and Focus. Now it makes sense.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Probably figured he was going out on a high note after the Bronco introduction. And maybe he is.

    By the way, check out that Explorer-intro picture. Whose bright idea was it to put Farley in skinny jeans? Bro, take it from a guy your age…even if you can wear ’em, don’t. You aren’t 25 anymore.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    This ultimately why Jim Farley left Toyota back in 2007 after 17 years for Ford. He wanted to be the Chief and now he has achieved his goal. Let’s see if his ambitions overwhelm his ability.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Is there something going the rest of us don’t know about? The CEO of the Fortune 200 company where I work is stepping down at the same time too.

    • 0 avatar
      Illan

      same thing happened on the company i work as well. (also a fortune 200 company)

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Many left in 2019:

      https://tinyurl.com/y2lr8tdc

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Probably the pandemic crisis is exposing a lot of flaws that might otherwise have been swept under the rug.

      When the whole economy is doing great, you can be shitty at your job and maybe people won’t notice cause the company is doing well anyway. But when a crisis happens, there’s no more cover.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      Yeah, the economy is about to take an epic dirt nap and the stock options are flying high thanks to the unbelievable number of trillions of dollars the Fed is printing up right now.

      This ends nowhere better than it does right now. We either stop spending money we don’t have (which shoots the economy in the face) or we destroy the dollar (which shoots the economy in the face).

      Bail out before you’re blamed for the bankruptcy and bail out before your stock options are worthless so you can buy that nice home somewhere far away from the rest of smoldering America.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    One clown for another although Farley is a bit more qualified. At least he knows the auto industry.

    Hackett did his best to turn Ford into a company that doesn’t make vehicles. Mobility and condemned train stations were his goals and the vehicles be damned. He drained every single model of anything resembling quality in an effort to save money. The models released under his tenure are/will be junk.

    Good riddance. I don’t think even Mulally did as much damage to Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      You mean Fields, not Mulally, right?

      Mulally was the one who saved Ford and make it good again for a while.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        No. Mulally was a cancer. He decimated quality. The amount of recalls spiked with Mulally and has not subsided. Fields was actually the right choice. Knew the business, was a car guy, and made good changes (slowed down development to shore up cash and to make sure the product was right, etc). But the damage was done and Fields was the fall guy for all of Mulallys mistakes.

        Then Ford goes out and finds another Mulally. They get the Hackjob in there and look what happens. Quality is again decimated, you have vehicles that need extensive repairs immediately after being built, skyrocketing prices but no quality or content to back them up, he has wasted untold amounts of money on the unnecessary train station that should have been demolished, he invested in mobility solutions all while ignoring Fords core business…..automobiles.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Its a musical chairs game.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Smart man, bail while you can and avoid being the fall guy.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I don’t know if Farley is the right guy. I’m skeptical.

    However, I do know….Hackett was NOT the right guy, never was, never was gonna be.

    I actually still don’t know why Fields was let go. He wasn’t even given 3 years? He had always seemed like a competent auto executive from what I had seen. Wasn’t even around long enough to get through 1 model launch probably.

    Unless his job was also just to pump the stock price?

    Sometimes I think America is losing its mind. We used to do what worked, now I swear we are doing what feels good and financializing absolutely everything we can. The stock doesn’t reflect the operation. Instead the stock becomes the operation.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Thinking and planning ahead further than the next quarter is declasse. Short term gains in the stock market, that’s what it’s all about. Darn the torpedoes.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Fields was let go because he accomplished what the ford family wanted him to accomplish….be the fall guy for all of Mulallys mistakes. Fields realized what was coming and tried to position Ford to weather the storm of bad PR and very expensive recalls. When the Ford family was done with Fields, they brought in Hackjob and he went the complete other direction.

      Fields is also Jewish so that may have played a role in why the Ford family got rid of him

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