Former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz had some thoughts to share on CNBC this week regarding Mark Fields’ ousting as CEO of Ford Motor Company, saying in so many words that Fields didn’t have the panache required of today’s automotive CEOs.
“It’s not so much what a CEO actually does in the way of day-to-day performance – and I’m sure that Mark Fields, you know, with decades of training at Ford… was great,” Lutz said on CNBC’s Squawk Alley. “But there was no excitement coming out of the company.”
He went on to say that “nowadays, if you don’t sell the sizzle, you’re not going to be able to market the steak.”
Lutz contrasted Mark Fields against Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk in this regard – an automotive CEO whose performance in terms of bolstering the profitability of his company “is an F-minus,” he says, but one who has nonetheless managed to rally investors behind an exciting vision. Early last month, Tesla’s market cap surpassed that of Ford, despite the fact that the company has had just two profitable quarters in its entire history.
Ford achieved record profits of $10.8 billion in 2015 (pretax), and raked in another $10.4 billion last year.
“The CEOs who are managing the business, and going about it the right, old-fashioned way – they are not projecting a vision of the future; they’re not projecting magic things to come,” Lutz said. “And you know what? Wall Street doesn’t tolerate that anymore, and therefore, boards can’t.”
Ford’s Group Vice President of Communications, Raymond Day, was also ousted from his post recently. He’s been replaced by former Detroit News automotive writer Mark Truby, who joined Ford Motor Company in 2007.