Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, and it’s easy to say that we should have done things differently at any point in the past. Making decisions and predictions that will affect the future of a company, well, that’s a different story altogether, as well as a far more difficult task. However, sometimes, executives simply get it right, and that was certainly the case with Jacques Nasser, who was the vice president of Ford back in 1997 when he made some predictions that ultimately came true before he served as the company’s CEO from 1998 to 2001, as we can clearly see in an old Drive article from that time period.
Originally published back in March 1997, an interview with Nasser revealed his predictions for the future of the automobile in general, many of which ultimately came true. One of those predictions was that by 2030, China would become the world’s largest automotive market, and he certainly nailed that one – though he was off a bit on that specific year – as that country is already the top seller of vehicles across the globe.
If that isn’t eery enough, Nasser also apparently saw something that most didn’t at the time – the rise of the electrified vehicle and the impending demise of ICE. “Cities, especially in Europe, Japan, and California, will restrict private transportation vehicles in metropolitan areas unless they’re powered by electricity or hybrid fuel,” he said at the time. Then there’s the matter of personal security, which Nasser noted “will be a big selling feature,” and fittingly, Ford is focusing on video capture and recently partnered with ADT to create a vehicle security joint-venture dubbed Canopy.
On top of that, Nassar also noted that he believed the future of buying a new vehicle was in for some big changes as well, with a shift toward build-to-order and more customizable features – things that current CEO Jim Farley has long pined for, and has openly expressed his desire to move to 100 percent digital sales at some point in the future.
We’ll have more interesting reflections like this to share soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for 24/7 Ford news coverage.
There are those who have either been in an industry for some time, or another similar industry long enough to connect dots that when extrapolated further, can lead to some logical assumptions. In most cases though, there are just too many variables, many unseen, that can derail even the best attempts at predictions.
I too think digital sales are the future but vehicles will need service and repairs, “dealers” will still be necessary.
So here’s my thoughts. Dealers will have a limited selection of demo cars. I’ll walk into the dealer, say I’m interested in a Mustang. I’ll take a demo out for a spin. (Demos will be sold as CPOs off the lot at future date) I’ll then sit down at a computer with a sales person (actually a salaried concierge of sorts)) we’ll build an order the car with a $500 deposit applied to the screen price of the car (forfeited if buyer cancels after the car arrives). The car arrives at the dealer and I go to pay for and pick it up. The same concierge goes with me to set up the car for my use and explain the various intricacies of the car. I take delivery and leave. Within a week I receive a through survey to complete (in exchange for reward points toward accessories I rate the dealer AND the concierge who will either get fired or rewarded for his/her competence in explaining the car to me. Simple. No commissions. No ADM. Dealer can add accessories if requested by the buyer. Today’s car/trucks/EVs are becoming increasingly complicated/sophisticated and even a three old trade will be pretty different from new vehicles.
JN nearly killed the company. His cost-cutting resulted in uncompetitive vehicles, and his Business Leadership Initiatives diluted/distracted the organization. Nearly every outsider he hired were short-timers… the one exception, JF, is on track to putting the final nail in the coffin.
Interesting piece of history.
Whether one liked Nasser or not, is not the point of this article.
CEO that are willing to see over the horizon and make calls this far in advance are pretty special.
Mr. Farley has this skill as well… I hope he succeeds.
Nasser at least understood what a Lincoln is. The LS put Lincoln on notice then without Nasser, fizzled out to the garbage that came afterward. Lincoln currently has nothing we want. Get him back and let him run Lincoln the way it is supposed to be run.
The LS was approved under Alex Trotman’s leadership. JN killed the LS derivatives that would have spawned a Lincoln coupe/convertible and a larger Lincoln sedan. If anything, JN sent Lincoln to its malaise era.
JN did really almost kill the company. From his slash and burn cost cutting to his “fire 10% of the workforce” every year destroyed teamwork and morale. The record showed that every area he went in his career was a wreck when he moved on…from product to process. His advancement in the company was the biggest failure of Ford’s Management Development system. And we paid him $27M to leave the wreck he created. I remember the Monday after Jac’s firing…the staff at WHQ gave Bill Jr. a standing ovation when announced Jac was gone.