Among Detroit auto companies, Ford Motor has been the most vocal about the need to adapt to the new future of transportation.
Its executive chairman, Bill Ford Jr., has talked for years about the need to balance transportation modes with protecting the environment. The company has taken office space in a shopping mall near its Dearborn, Mich., world headquarters for an effort to come up with new ideas.
Unfortunately, its investors have not been convinced Ford was moving fast enough. Ford shares have fallen nearly 40 percent since 2014. And now, that perception has cost CEO Mark Fields his job.
Ford announced Monday that Fields will be replaced by James Hackett, who has been in charge of Ford Smart Mobility, the new division that is tasked with the company’s efforts on self-driving cars, ride sharing and everything to do with mobility.
Bill Ford and Jim Hackett outline plan for a more dynamic Ford, focused on improving people’s lives and creating value for all stakeholders. pic.twitter.com/uZEDduUX9X
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) May 22, 2017
The swift action, which was barely rumored for a week, puts mobility front and center among Ford’s priorities.
Under the old rules by which car companies played, Fields should have had a solid grip on the company’s operations. Ford, like other Detroit carmakers, has enjoyed recent record profits based on strong sales of pickups and sport utility vehicles. It even posted a $2 billion profit last year in Europe, long a sore spot.
But the old rules are no longer how car companies are judged. The competition is no longer between Detroit, Tokyo, Korea and Germany. The Americans have to prove they can keep up with Silicon Valley companies, such as Google, Apple and especially Tesla, which has become a darling of the technology world for its electric vehicles. Continue reading