Remember Mark Fields, the former Ford CEO who was forced to retire due to an inability to manifest his vision of the company’s future in a timely manner? Well, it’s starting to look like Wall Street needs another sacrificial lamb. Ford’s current chief executive, Jim Hackett, appears rather appetizing.
Despite promises from company chairman Bill Ford that the automaker would see swifter decision making under Hackett, it hasn’t felt all that differing from the company’s Fieldsian days. There’s still a strong emphasis placed on transforming Ford into a mobility company with no obvious path on how to get there. While it might be a little unfair of us to slam Fields or Hackett for their inability to accurately map out the future like some mythical sage, investors expect exactly that. As a result, Ford’s stock price has continued to tumble.
Chariot, Ford’s app-based shuttle service, has announced it will throw in the towel due to the rapidly changing “mobility landscape” of major cities. When the company launched in 2014 with Jim Hackett at the helm, it joined a bundle of “microtransit” firms hoping to undercut brands like Uber while providing a viable alternative to public transportation.
Ford acquired the company in March of 2016 for a reported $65 million, proving that not every mobility firm can be a golden goose. It snagged Hackett and made him Ford CEO roughly a year later, where he continued to oversee Chariot as chairman of the automaker’s Smart Mobility subsidiary. Unfortunately, the service is no longer deemed sustainable.
On the upside of things, this ought to put a few coins in the jar labeled “Restructuring Program” at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters.
Earlier this week we mentioned that Ford’s restructuring plan might closely mimic General Motors’ strategy — resulting in widespread job losses. That theory was backed by an analysis from Morgan Stanley, which presumed the Dearborn-based automaker is likely to surpass GM in terms of layoffs, based on how much each intends to free up. Back in July, Ford said it would spend roughly three to five years on its $11 billion restructuring. All told, the financial services company believes the Blue Oval might shed at least 25,000 positions.
In the report’s wake, Ford CEO Jim Hackett is urging everyone not to panic. On Tuesday, he said Ford never provided numbers to Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who estimated the significant employee reduction just one day earlier.
Ford Motor Co. is blaming Donald Trump’s commodity tariffs for elevating U.S. steel prices higher than any other market on the planet. Regardless of your opinion on the president’s policies (the economy is reportedly booming), it’s a little hard to rebuff Ford’s criticisms on this one. The automaker’s now going straight to the source in an attempt to remedy the situation.
Trump hasn’t gone easy on Ford. He spent a large portion of his presidential campaign coming down on the automaker over its plan to move small-car production to Mexico. However, the company’s about-face proved a short-lived victory — it ultimately decided to stop selling cars altogether. This was followed by Ford’s cull of the upcoming Focus Active in North America after Trump’s 25 percent levy on Chinese-built vehicle made the introduction impossible (and unprofitable).
Analysts and investors are quick to point out a key similarity between Ford Motor Company’s stock and the terrain between the Appalachians and Outer Banks, viewed from west to east. Unlike Tesla’s recent share price plunge(s), Ford’s decline has been gradual, remaining stubbornly unaffected by the automaker’s attempts to turn it all around.
While he’s faced questions about his performance before, Ford CEO Jim Hackett is growing frustrated with the idea that, under his leadership, the company is focused too much on the future, with not enough going on in the present.
Ford’s decision to construct the current-generation F-150’s body purely of aluminum paid off in terms of lightweighting, fuel economy, and sales, but rising commodity costs over the past couple of years eroded some of the financial benefit. There’s far greater headaches facing Ford these days, as the industry grapples with tariffs on not just imported aluminum and steel, but vehicles as well.
A second income-sucking tariff hit in July, when the U.S. applied an import duty of 25 percent on a slew of Chinese goods, prompting China to up its own tariffs on American goods, including automobiles. Ford isn’t having it. Having already lost $1 billion in profit, CEO Jim Hackett has a message for President Trump.
You might as well call this post “QOTD: Devil’s Advocate Edition.” I was prepared to feel furious by the time Ford CEO Jim Hackett’s Thursday appearance at the Midwestern Governors Conference wrapped up, and there was good reason why. The subject of the conference involved that dreaded word: mobility.
How will automated technologies change the way we live? That’s what participants wanted to talk about, and you can bet that Hackett was front and center, gabbing about his favorite topic. How will technology alter the way we travel, the way we drive? The hashtag #MGASmartland filtered through my Twitter feed. Certainly, the talk had all the makings of something I’d find depressing. Time to find that red Barchetta and a barn to hide it in.
It didn’t help that the first Hackett quote I saw emerge from the conference was a tired trope urbanists (read: car haters) trot out on a regular basis.
When the current-generation Fusion appeared for 2013, its Aston Martin styling was a cold glass of water in the face of milquetoast midsized family sedans. Part of Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” plan, the stylish car added zest to a bland segment.
Now, with recently minted CEO Jim Hackett having decreed the Mustang to be Ford’s only car worth keeping, the Fusion has been left to weather crushing competition from competitors that have undergone significant renewals – twice, in some cases.
It’s generally agreed that former Ford CEO Mark Fields was shown the door after failing to turn around the company’s steadily declining stock, but his successor hasn’t had any success on that front, either.
Jim Hackett took over in May of 2017 and, despite an ongoing cost-cutting program and numerous new model (and technology) promises, Ford’s share price shows no lift. Wednesday’s earnings call was easily the worst of Hackett’s tenure.
Ford Motor Company announced Tuesday that it has formed formed a subsidiary — Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC — devoted entirely to autonomous vehicle development. That’s probably the catchiest name we’ve heard since Bank of America Corp or Waste Management Inc. However, you don’t need a clever moniker when you’re dumping $4 billion into a project, which Ford intends to do through 2023.
With all the current drama and distrust surrounding self-driving cars, we thought there was a chance automakers would cool off on pushing for it so aggressively. But while some OEMs curbed their futuristic rhetoric ever so slightly, practically everyone else kept the pedal to the metal — an analogy that will lose all meaning once computers drive us everywhere.
Let’s see what The Future™ looks like in and around Dearborn.
Ten automotive executives met with President Donald Trump this week, hoping to find ways to increase domestic production and mitigate the coming changes to corporate fuel economy regulations. The meeting, held in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, included General Motors’ Mary Barra, Ford’s Jim Hackett and Fiat Chrysler’s Sergio Marchionne. While a large portion of the event was spent discussing the administration’s attempt to roll back established fuel economy rules, Trump was focused on returning manufacturing jobs to the United States.
The president noted that FCA’s decision to spend $1 billion in order to expand truck assembly in Michigan made Marchionne more appealing than his contemporaries. “Right now, he is my favorite person in the room,” Trump said.
Anyone hoping to glean specifics about upcoming products during Ford Motor Company’s annual shareholder’s meeting likely walked away unsatisfied. During the Thursday meeting, the company’s leaders touted Ford’s plan to freshen its lineup and align its products with changing American tastes.
Killing off the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus was necessary, CEO Jim Hackett claimed, adding that the decision doesn’t mean the company plans to leave those buyers in the lurch.
“We want to give them what they’re telling us they really want,” he said. “We’re simply reinventing the American car.”
It’s no secret Ford Motor Company cut its previous CEO, Mark Fields, loose after the company’s stock price fell 40 percent during his time at the helm. Eager to attract investors, Fields’ superiors must have looked at General Motors’ and Tesla’s valuation and wondered, Dammit, if a very profitable company and a very unprofitable company can do it, then hell, so should we.
Out the door Fields went. Since taking the big chair in Dearborn, CEO Jim Hackett has pissed off automotive purists with his “future cities” and mobility talk, and word that the Mach 1 will return as an electric crossover hasn’t done anything to endear him to the pony car crowd. The new Mustang Bullitt does not erase this sin.
Animosity aside, Hackett has managed to place a checkmark next to a top item on his to-do list: get Wall Street’s attention.
Not to be outdone by General Motors’ excursion into autonomy, Ford Motor Company has announced it will purchase two mobility startups: Autonomic, which makes self-driving software; and TransLoc, which makes transit apps.
While Ford says it made a significant investment into the California-based Autonomic last year, it’s now rolling the company into a new team for developing mobility business models called “Ford X.”
This is familiar territory, as the Blue Oval also promised to put around $1 billion into Argo AI last year. The artificial intelligence startup is supposed to help Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver system” for future autonomous fleets. But will the company’s strategy of acquiring businesses work as it hopes to reshape itself into a different kind of carmaker? Ford thinks so.
“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car,” Jim Hackett, Ford chief executive officer, exclaimed at the Michigan CEO Summit in Detroit on Thursday. But he promises there will be “no dumb cars in the future.”
The executive was not assuring attendees that Ford has no plans to revive the Mustang II, rather, he was talking about the brand’s continued efforts to press onward into the development of electric, connected, and self-driving automobiles on a global scale. With Wall Street still fixated on tech, it would be surprising to hear any automotive executive say otherwise.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.
- ToolGuy Pretty cool.