Ford CEO Jim Hackett is retiring, the company announced today. He will be succeeded by Jim Farley, the company’s COO, on October 1, in a succession that seems a little earlier than expected.
Farley, 58, was elevated to COO in February. Many assumed then that it was a precursor to his eventual elevation to the top job. I don’t think many thought it would be this soon.
Cue the usual statements from Hackett, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, et al.
“I am very grateful to Jim Hackett for all he has done to modernize Ford and prepare us to compete and win in the future,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “Our new product vision – led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150 and Bronco family – is taking shape. We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble, which was apparent when we quickly mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic.”
“My goal when I took on the CEO role was to prepare Ford to win in the future,” Hackett said. “The hardest thing for a proud, long-lived company to do is change to meet the challenges of the world it’s entering rather than the world it has known. I’m very proud of how far we have come in creating a modern Ford and I am very optimistic about the future.
“I have worked side-by-side with Jim Farley for the past three years and have the greatest confidence in him as a person and a leader,” Hackett said. “He has been instrumental in crafting our new product portfolio and redesigning our businesses around the world. He is also a change agent with a deep understanding of how to lead Ford in this new era defined by smart vehicles in a smart world.”
Said Farley: “I love Ford and I am honored by the opportunity to serve and create value for Ford’s employees, customers, dealers, communities and all of our stakeholders. Jim Hackett has laid the foundation for a really vibrant future and we have made tremendous progress in the past three years. I am so excited to work together with the whole Ford team to realize the full potential of this great company in a new era.”
Hackett presided over Ford canceling its non-Mustang cars, and has been CEO of Ford since 2017, originally hired to oversee drastic change at the automaker. Farley, meanwhile, has always been a logical replacement after he was put in charge of Ford’s team covering “software platforms, connectivity, AI, automation and new forms of propulsion” in April 2019.
On paper this seems like a further push by Ford into the direction of Mustang Mach-E and electrified things, though in practice it’s hard to imagine this will change Ford’s general direction much. Ford is not alone in any case, as “small cars are bad and electric cars might be good” is the direction of pretty much every major automaker in the North American market at the moment. The biggest upcoming test of Farley will be the electric F-150. Then we’ll see how different he really is.
Update, 10:15 a.m.: Farely has been speaking and stonks: