Ford CEO Jim Hackett is stepping down, retiring from the company in the midst of its transition to greater electrification. Hackett took over the chief executive role in 2017, replacing Mark Fields; he in turn will be replaced by Jim Farley, who until now has been Ford’s chief operating officer, and who will take over the CEO roll from October 1, 2020.
Hackett’s retirement comes as Ford is midway through its so-called “Creating Tomorrow Together” plan. That saw the automaker reevaluate its range, making strident cuts to longstanding product lines, and attempting to embrace electric vehicles and smart technology.
It’s not been an easy ride. Back in April 2018, for example, Ford revealed it would be axing its sedans in the North American market, following the industry trend to trucks, utilities, and commercial vehicles. By 2020, the automaker promised at the time, 90-percent of its North American portfolio would fall into those categories.
It was the kiss of death for the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, C-Max, and Taurus, with only the Mustang and Focus Active crossover making the cut. In their place were crossovers and SUVs, such as the Escape and Explorer. Earlier this year, Ford unveiled the new 2021 F-150 pickup truck, and later in the year it will put the Mustang Mach-E – its all-electric crossover – on sale.
It’s models like that EV – and next year’s 2021 Bronco – which Ford is pinning its hopes on. By 2022 there’ll be 16 battery-electric options, Ford has said, including all-electric and hybrids. In the next two years we’ll see a fully electric F-150, the biggest change to the automaker’s best-selling truck since it switched to an aluminum design in 2015.
At the same time, Ford has been extending its partnerships. The automaker inked a deal with Volkswagen which has grown to encompass autonomous vehicles and electric models, including sharing investment in Argo AI. Under Hackett’s leadership, Ford also invested in excess of $500 million into electric startup Rivian, with plans to codevelop a car using the automaker’s EV skateboard platform.
Jim Farley joined Ford in 2007, first as global head of Marketing and Sales, before taking leadership roles at Lincoln, Ford South America, Ford of Europe, and all Ford global markets. In April 2019, Ford put him at the head of the New Businesses, Technology & Strategy team; come February 2020, he was made Ford COO.
Hackett, meanwhile, will continue on as a special advisor to the automaker through March 2021. For the next two months, that will predominantly involve working on the CEO transition.