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Ford replaces CEO Mark Fields with autonomous driving chief

Ford replaces CEO Mark Fields with autonomous driving chief


Jim Hackett, Ford CEO (2017 - )

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Jim Hackett
Jim Hackett
Ford Motor Company

Mark Fields is out as Ford CEO and Jim Hackett is in. Ford just made the news official after it was first reported last night by The New York Times. Hacket, 62, who ran Steelcase furniture for 20 years before joining Ford, was most recently in charge of the company's autonomous vehicle subsidiary known as Ford Smart Mobility. Fields was CEO for three years — a period that saw Ford stock drop 40 percent.

“Reporting to Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Hackett will lead Ford’s worldwide operations and 202,000 employees globally. He succeeds Mark Fields, 56, who has elected to retire from Ford after a successful 28-year career with the company,” said the company in a press release. Hackett is charged with three priorities: sharpen operational execution especially in underperforming lines of business; modernizing Ford’s business by leveraging big data, AI, advanced robotics, and 3D printing; and transforming the company’s culture to ensure it keeps up with the changing times.

Palo Alto is a long way from Dearborn

Smart Mobility LLC is located in Palo Alto, a long way from Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. "You want it separate but connected, said Mark Fields in a Verge interview last year. "The reason we wanted to do it separate is because, you have to realize that we needed to give them the flexibility and the operating structure to be able to be competitive with other technology and mobility services companies that move really fast. We didn’t want to overlay them with the Ford bureaucracy."

Ford Smart Mobility was formed in 2016 as an effort to accelerate the company’s metamorphosis into an auto and mobility company. Its aim was to aggressively pursue emerging opportunities and “be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics,” according to Ford. Hackett’s promotion is a clear sign that Ford thinks the transformation isn’t happening quickly enough. Ford’s car sales are down 25 percent this year and Tesla recently overtook both Ford and GM in terms of market capitalization.

Update May 22nd, 8:34 AM: Story updated with details from Ford’s official announcement.