The automotive world received a bit of a shock this week when Ford announced that its CEO, Jim Hackett, would be retiring and handing over his position to COO Jim Farley. Over the last few years, Hackett has worked to create what he calls a “modern Ford,” with a focus on smart vehicles, connectivity, and electric and autonomous technology.
Now, it appears that Farley will continue to expand Ford’s operations into even more technology-related fields, including software, fleet management, and electric vehicle charging.
“These are new growth initiatives that could create a lot of value for the company,” Farley explained to Reuters. “These are concrete areas that will change Ford. They’re going to impact the company’s future look and feel.”
The Blue Oval’s Executive Chairman, Bill Ford, also revealed that the automaker never considered any other candidates when Hackett made his decision to walk away. “Our board felt that we were on the right path,” he said. When asked if there would be any more management changes, he replied, “I wouldn’t expect any big surprises.”
Ford hired Hackett to take over the company’s CEO position despite his complete lack of automotive experience. The results of that move have been largely mixed, with highs including the so-far-successful return of the Ford Bronco and a surprising Q2 profit thanks to the automaker’s recently announced joint venture with Volkswagen and investment in its self-driving Argo AI subsidiary.
On the downside, Ford’s stock has lost roughly 40% of its value since Hackett was named CEO in 2017, though at least some of that performance can be blamed on the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Jim Farley is an experienced car guy who’s been with Ford since 2007, when he was hired as global head of Marketing and Sales. Farley went on to lead Lincoln, Ford South America, Ford of Europe, and all Ford global markets in successive roles. In April 2019, Farley was chosen to lead Ford’s New Businesses, Technology & Strategy team. He was named chief operating officer in February of this year.
Hackett and Farley will work together during a two-month transition period, after which Hackett will remain a company advisor through March of 2021.