No U-Turns in Ford's Future, Farley Says

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
no u turns in ford s future farley says

After being named as Ford’s next CEO, the automaker’s current chief operating officer, Jim Farley, says the company is on the proper course, with no need to reverse the tech-driven direction taken under the outgoing Jim Hackett.

Speaking to Reuters, Farley said the hunt for new revenue streams in a rapidly evolving technological landscape will continue.

Under his leadership, Farley, who takes the top job on October 1st, said Ford might dip its toes into software, fleet management, and electric vehicle recharging, claiming that, “These are new growth initiatives that could create a lot of value for the company.”

Speaking of Ford’s continuing work in the realm of self-driving vehicles, a field that’s been slower to advance than we were led to believe in past years, the future CEO said “these are concrete areas that will change Ford,” adding, “They’re going to impact the company’s future look and feel.”

Most telling comment of the Ford press conference from incoming CEO Jim Farley on Ford's competition today: "It's Amazon, Baidu, Tesla, Apple, Toyota and others." $F

— Phil LeBeau (@Lebeaucarnews) August 4, 2020

Autonomous and electric vehicles seem to be the catnip investors like, but Ford’s past efforts, which were not unsubstantial, failed to set Wall Street on fire. The automaker’s sliding share price traces an uninterrupted line through the tenures of both Fields and Hackett; it will be Farley’s job to reverse the slide, and it’s his job that’ll be on the line.

Ford has to prove to investors and analysts that it’s positioned to make money chasing the future. The shareholders must be rewarded.

For now, however, Ford’s bread and butter remains its lengthy menu of trucks and SUVs — the latter group growing so crowded, Ford might have to ditch one long-running nameplate. Pandemic troubles aside, the company’s pre-existing $11 billion restructuring plan is another effort that must be completed under Farley. For now, he has the complete confidence of his bosses.

Per Reuters, the company’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, said that it wasn’t necessary to search the industry looking for a replacement for Hackett. With Farley, “our board felt that we were on the right path,” Ford said, adding that he doesn’t “expect any big surprises” with regard to upper management switcheroos.

In a media call reported on by the Detroit Free Press, Ford did say the possibility of looking elsewhere came up while discussing the transition of power.

“We clearly talked about taking a look outside,” he said. “Increasingly, everybody was getting inspired by Jim Farley’s leadership. While we talked about it and did throw some names around, every time we did that, we always felt Jim Farley rose to the top.”

As for Hackett, the outgoing CEO claims the time felt right to pass the torch.

“I said we ought to do it now, the wind in our sails is really starting to pick up,” Hackett said during the call. “Jim’s grasp of products is legendary.”

While tech and fancy gadgets wow certain journos and sometimes investors, if the core business isn’t running efficiently, all is lost. Farley implied his top focus will be on getting lucrative products like the next-generation F-150 and upcoming Bronco and Mustang Mach-E into buyers’ hands without any screw-ups.

He also added, interestingly, that he remains committed to expanding an “affordable” lineup for buyers, suggesting that there’s more low-end product to come from an automaker that’s already ditched all but one member of its passenger car stable.

[Image: Ford]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 05, 2020

    highdesert--My nephew ordered the lift before the Covid-19 and it is a nice. It is heavy enough to lift his 1 ton 2014 Ram Cummins dually and he has a large collection of tools. He spent a lot of time getting the IH running, then he went over the Isuzu and the Chevy which didn't need much. He replaced the shocks and did a brake job on his Ram. He then did a brake job on my Ranger, changed the oil and filter, and undercoated the Ranger with Rustoleum undercoating. I gave him a family bible, my Great Grandfather's Union Cavalry sword, and some papers and belongs of my Great Great Uncle who was the first pilot to fly from Kelley Field and trained pilots during WW I on the Curtis Jenny biplanes. My Great Great Uncle and his wife lived in San Antonio and never had children but he could fix anything and was incharge of maintenance at Kelly Field. Wanted my nephew to share this with his children.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Aug 06, 2020

      Jeff S, your nephew sounds like a gem, someone to be groomed for bigger and better things in his post-military-retirement years. And I mean that sincerely because there were a few people in my life, though not related to me, who needed a little grooming and guidance to help them along their way to bigger and better things. One of them was Nguyen, a retired USAF MSgt who was a member of the RED HORSE construction Battalion while on active duty. I took him under my wing, taught him everything he wanted to know about restoring/refurbishing houses and rental properties, and when I retired from working, sent him on his merry way to open his own business to replace mine. Success story! Nguyen's wife works for a local real estate broker and funnels the work to her husband who is under contract with that real estate business. And much of the work is often done off-the-record as part of the underground economy, (something I was part of for 30+ years maintaining and repairing properties owned by my in-laws). I see massive possibilities and opportunities for your nephew. As part of the repair and refurb work I did on my in-laws' properties, we often had to replace the old single-pane windows with the newer high-R double-pane insulated windows to make better usage of the Swampcooler-to-AC conversions we always did. IOW, better insulated. And one of the guys I hired to help me in the past was a retired Army SFC. Well, he took the idea and ran with it and opened his own Window and Glass replacement business. Another success story. Lotta opportunities out there.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 06, 2020

    @highdesert--My nephew is 54 so he is not as spry as he use to be. I told him the older you get the more your body hurts.

  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.
  • Stuart de Baker I didn't bother to read this article. I'll wait until a definitive headline comes out, and I'll be surprised if Tesla actually produces the Cybertruck. It certainly looks impractical for both snowy and hot sunny weather.
  • Stuart de Baker This is very interesting information. I was in no danger of buying a Tesla. I love my '08 Civic (stick), and it feels just as responsive as when I bought it 11 years ago with 35k on the clock (now 151k), and barring mishaps, I plan to keep it for the next 25 years or so, which would put me into my mid-90s, assuming I live that long. On your information, I will avoid renting Teslas.
  • RHD The only people who would buy this would be those convinced by a website that they are great, and order one sight-unseen. They would have to have be completely out of touch with every form of media for the last year. There might actually be a few of these people, but not very many. They would also have to be completely ignorant of the Hyundai Excel. (Vinfast seems to make the original Excel look like a Camry in comparison.)