One of the strangest anomalies in the automotive industry is the way electric vehicle startups (like technology companies in general) seem to draw limitless support from investors while established automakers don’t receive nearly the same kind of love — even when transitioning toward EVs.
There’s a logic behind this, however. Green tech is overwhelmingly trendy at the moment, even if some of it lacks a comprehensive game plan to actually save the environment, and financial backers are always looking to get in on the next big thing before anybody else — resulting in scattershot investing that sometimes coalesces into a major victory for new firms possessing sufficient moxie.
But it hasn’t helped the auto industry’s largest players, who are seen as dinosaurs using the blood of their forebears to amass their fortunes. They lack the presumed purity of brands like Tesla or Nikola (clever name), even though their financial goals seem largely the same.
A potential solution to this problem is to distance tech-focused entities from the core business.
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.
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.
After much speculation, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has finally outlined where his company’s dollars will be spent in the foreseeable future. Hackett spent his summer performing what Ford called a “four-month deep dive” into the company’s strategy and business operations to see what changes needed to be made. His conclusions? This may surprise a few readers, but Ford will continue building and selling automobiles.
Alright, that isn’t a bombshell, but the brand is trying to frame itself as the Ford you’ve always trusted while also letting everyone know it’s still a “mobility company” with its eyes fixed on tomorrow. Without the public relations veneer, that plan translates into a reduced number of production models and trims, more money for electrification R&D, less for internal combustion engines, and a significant reduction in material costs.
Hackett’s address also served to reassure the nervous shareholders who ousted his predecessor, Mark Fields. Ford’s stock declined more than 30 percent during Fields’ tenure and many complained that his vision of transitioning from a traditional automaker to a Silicon Valley look-alike was partly to blame. Hackett did everything in his power to ease those fears.
“We’re going to be in the vehicle business moving both people and goods. Some myth about not being in the car business is gone,” Hackett told Wall Street.
Prior to outlining Ford Motor Company’s new strategy to financial analysts and corporate investors, CEO Jim Hackett wants to check-in with leadership from the United Automobile Workers. Hackett has been undertaking a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points — established during Mark Fields’ executive tenure — with a mind to reevaluate the status quo.
However, before he announces his new vision for the company to Wall Street, Hackett is giving the UAW a peek. Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot.
Earlier this week, we griped about Ford Motor Company’s market research into the validity of self-driving pizza delivery vehicles. Thankfully, that’s not the sole avenue the automaker is exploring. Since abandoning Uber Technologies’ self-driving program in April, Ford’s new vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, Sherif Marakby, has spent the summer seeking partners that might want to put autonomous vehicles on the road in the near future.
Meanwhile, Ford chief executive Jim Hackett, who took over in May, is conducting a review of the automaker’s overall strategy, including the heavy investments made into electric and self-driving vehicles that took place under former CEO Mark Fields. While it’s unknown how viable he’ll deem every aspect of company’s Fieldsian mobility plan, early assessments hint he’ll leave Marakby plenty to work with.
There’s been no shortage of hot takes on former Ford CEO Mark Fields’ sudden departure from the big office in Dearborn, but a new report sheds light on the drama occurring at the Blue Oval shortly before Fields “elected to retire.”
Before his replacement by Jim Hackett, Fields reportedly attempted to fire Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, as a way of relieving growing scrutiny on his own performance. It didn’t go they way he had planned.
Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, will be able to avoid some of the shareholder wrath his predecessor assumed. With Mark Fields gone, Bill Ford has taken it upon himself to keep the dream alive and promote the company’s vision of the future while its share price continues to dwindle. The executive chairman and great-grandson of the business’ founder has expanded his duties to include managing corporate communications and interacting with the government — two tasks few would envy.
Bill Ford claims that assuming the responsibilities would allow Hackett to focus on the daily operations and better familiarize himself with the automotive world, of which he has little direct experience with. That isn’t to suggest he’s not the man for the job, but Ford sees no reason to burden him with external communication duties — which we know can get ugly — as he’s settling into the new position.
Prior to this morning’s announcement that outgoing Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields is “retiring,” Fields was in charge at the Blue Oval for nearly three years. Just a little more than ten quarters, to be more precise.
In eight of those quarters, Ford Motor Company U.S. market share declined, year-over-year.
Ford was not without excuse, of course. There was always market share to be taken if Ford wanted it. But an attempt to limit reliance on daily rental fleet sales, particularly with Ford’s passenger car division, did the automaker’s market share no favors. Ford’s transition from old F-150 to the new aluminum-bodied model was a major switch, too, and sales growth during the transition phase wasn’t easy to come by.
Nevertheless, Ford’s U.S. market share didn’t nosedive during the Mark Fields era. The burden on incoming CEO Jim Hackett’s shoulders won’t be the elevation of Ford Motor Company market share in the automaker’s home market.
No, it’s the price of a Ford share that matters right now.
Mark Fields has reportedly been fired from his position as CEO of Ford Motor Company, to be replaced by a man he appointed as head of the automaker’s mobility subsidiary.
According to Forbes, the company will announce the appointment of Jim Hackett as CEO this morning, part of a broader shakeup of the company’s upper ranks. Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase, served on the automaker’s board for three years before being named head of Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March, 2016.
Fields, a 28-year Ford veteran who replaced Alan Mulally in mid-2014, was reportedly booted by the company’s board amid a continued decline in share values. Two weeks ago, the CEO was grilled by board members and shareholders alike over the direction he has taken the company.
A day after media reports described an impending mass layoff of Ford Motor Company employees, the automaker has clarified who gets to keep a job.
While the scale of the job reductions is less than previously reported — a 10-percent global workforce reduction is off the table — Ford does plan to cull its salaried North American and Asian workforce by one-tenth in a bid to cut costs.
The move comes after last week’s tense shareholders meeting during which investors and analysts grilled CEO Mark Fields over the company’s sinking market valuation. Since taking the helm three years ago, Fields has seen the company’s stock price sink by roughly 40 percent. Hourly workers aren’t affected by the plan, though the same can’t be said for white-collar employees.
The Ford Motor Company is allegedly preparing for a sweeping reduction of its global workforce. Harder days for the auto industry have been a long time coming, but reports claim the impending layoffs are specifically related to shoring up finances and turning around the company’s lagging stock valuation — meaning Ford could be the canary in the coal mine or a lone company desperate to bolster its own profitability and get angry shareholders off its back.
While the automaker has not yet confirmed the cuts, there is every indication an announcement will be made soon. When confronted with the matter, representatives have been careful to make noncommittal statements and doubly cautious not to deny anything.
“We remain focused on the three strategic priorities that will create value and drive profitable growth, which include fortifying the profit pillars in our core business, transforming traditionally underperforming areas of our core business and investing aggressively, but prudently, in emerging opportunities,” Ford said in an official statement. “Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work. We have not announced any new people efficiency actions, nor do we comment on speculation.”
As anticipated, Ford CEO Mark Fields was grilled today over his plans to improve the company’s waning fortunes by board members who had scheduled extra time to question him.
Hot topics at the annual meeting centered on why profits are falling, what is Ford doing about the market shift toward SUVs, and how the company’s colossal investments into technology are affecting its present-day financial situation. Ford has poured billions into self-driving vehicles and ride-sharing platforms as its traditional car business loses some ground to General Motors in a slowing U.S. market. Fields spearheaded Ford’s rebranding as a mobility company, but many have suggested this future-focus isn’t healthy for the brand.
Fields stuck to his guns, emphasizing that Ford was heading “aggressively but also prudently” into “the biggest strategic shift in the history of our company.”
The board of directors at Ford Motor Company will be seeking answers from CEO Mark Fields on how the brand’s mobility strategy played a role in its lackluster annual earnings report. Inside sources claim board members made extra time leading up to Thursday’s annual shareholders meeting to discuss the company’s future with the CEO.
Fields has promoted Ford’s evolution into a mobility company ever since taking the helm in 2014 — something investors haven’t been particularly receptive of. During Fields’ tenure as CEO, shares in the company have fallen by 35 percent. However, with tech-focused companies typically receiving above-average valuations, the methodology behind his strategy appears sound. Ford has spent billions on the development of autonomous technology and showcased mobility concepts that even Tesla hasn’t bothered with.
While many seem too impractical or far-fetched to deserve serious attention, the capital behind its self-driving efforts have kept Ford near the front of the pack in the autonomous race. So, what’s the problem?
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