In the electric car world, legacy automakers have continuously been criticized for, well, doing things the ‘old-fashioned way’ or ‘how things have always been done’. This, of course, has been seen as a stagnation towards improvements which is certainly disheartening to see when a completely new chapter in transportation is looking us all in the face. Ford has been one of the oldest automakers in the world and while it may have had its missteps, one of the prides of America is looking to shed the stigma of being a legacy automaker and give an honest effort into becoming a company that can keep with the times and that can go toe to toe with Tesla.
Recently an executive change was made at Ford that saw the retirement of CEO Jim Hackett, who in his own right has helped Ford along the right path, and the promotion of Jim Farley. Bill Ford spoke highly of Hackett and all that he had overseen during his tenure as CEO.
Bill Ford: “Todays an important day for Ford. Three years ago I introduced Jim Hackett as our new CEO for Ford and I asked Jim to help modernize Ford. And to begin the transformation that would radically change our company. But I also asked him on his very first day if he would help me get the next generation ready… We have lots of work ahead of us to really complete our mission but thanks to Jim we are a very different company today than we were three years ago… We launched new groundbreaking products like the last three that we introduced; the Mach-E, the new F-150, and the Bronco. We now have a compelling electric vehicle plan and are really well-positioned in the EV space. We established partners globally with VW, Mahindra, and Rivian and our brand image is rising across the world. And we are finally tackling underperforming global markets.”
Farley was first hired at Ford in 2007 and became head of their New Businesses, Technolgy & Strategy team last year. The team specializes in making sure that the company has some sort of strategy in place for tackling emerging technologies such as autonomous driving and electrification.
With his previous experience in mind, we can assume that Farley understands the importance of developing electric cars, autonomous systems, and overall have a software experience that doesn’t annoy the customer. The screens found in our cars are quickly becoming the second-most interacted screens in our lives following our smartphones, so it is imperative to have someone who understands the importance.
From Farley’s recent appearance on Ford’s conference call, it seems like he is aware of everything I previously mentioned. Not only does he name car companies as their competition, but also makes sure to note that companies like Amazon and Baidu, those specializing in software, are equal competitors as well.
Jim Farley: “We know our competition today. It’s Amazon, Baidu, Tesla, Apple, Toyota, and others. They’re well-financed and voracious companies and I’m inspired by the positive momentum that we’re now building… And to fulfill our mission we need to swing for the fences, just like we did when we built the Roush. To grow and expand where we are already strong. Like the transition of battery-electric in the commercial vehicle business. To make software an infrastructure equal to our physical products. To expand our affordable lineups and also services. And to take our AV (Autonomous Vehicle)technology to market to bring down the cost of moving.”
It is most definitely too early to tell, but with Farley as the man in charge, Ford could become a leader in electrification and autonomous technology in the coming years.
In regards to Farley’s ability to increase Ford’s stock price, he stated the following:
“We are very optimistic about North America’s performance improvement with the launches and cross-work we are doing. And as I said, as the growth initiatives come more into focus for Ford, like commercial vehicles and battery electric transition, we are so optimistic about the companies future.”
“The highest priority for us is to transition our fixed and accelerated plan in the coming months… To expand and grow as the industry and as Ford, as a leader, transitions to e-mobility for commercial vehicles. We see opportunity for adding to our products whole software business and the infrastructure business. We’re very committed certainly to expanding our affordable lineup of vehicles, but not just vehicles, services, but you’ll learn more about that. The movement of AV (Autonomous Vehicle) technology from a self-driving system and into a real business to reduce cost of moving is another growth area we see. I’m very optimistic… I feel fantastic about our ability to compete with new competitors”
Of course changes at the executive level rarely result in immediately seen changes in how the company performs, so it may be over a year or more before we see any changes to the company’s priorities under a new CEO. Hopefully, the change will be for the better and allow for more healthy competition to be had in the electric car and autonomous vehicle world.
What do you guys think of the CEO change? Will there be a different path that Ford will take, or will it end up being more of the same? Let us know down in the comments below.