Ford CEO and President Jim Hackett, 65, will retire from the company effective Oct. 1, the company announced today. He will be succeeded in the role by Ford COO Jim Farley, 58, who was promoted to his current position in February.
Hackett’s tenure at the helm saw Ford aggressively pursue smart vehicle technology and strengthen its focus on customer wants and needs, the automaker said. In a prepared statement, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford thanked Hackett for his role in modernizing the company:
“Our new product vision — led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150, and Bronco family is taking shape,” he said. “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.”
All things come to an end, but Hackett’s term as CEO — which began in May 2017 — is wrapping up sooner than many industry sources expected, according to various reports.
An article from CNBC noted that the announcement comes in the middle of an $11 billion restructuring plan that hasn’t sparked an improvement in Ford shares, which are down about 40 percent during Hackett’s tenure. Those shares increased by 3 percent immediately following the announcement, the same report said.
Farley, who joined Ford in 2007 as the global head of marketing and sales, became a logical choice to succeed Hackett after being chosen to lead Ford’s New Businesses, Technology & Strategy team in April 2019. In that role, he has helped Ford determine how to capitalize on software platforms, connectivity, new forms of propulsion, and other “powerful forces reshaping the industry,” the company said.
A report from the popular automotive blog Jalopnik speculates that the leadership change appears indicative of Ford’s dedication to electrified vehicle technology:
“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.”
Though Hacket’s term as Ford President and CEO is coming to a close, he will continue to serve as a special advisor to the company through March 2021, Ford said.