Ford’s big change

With Mark Fields departing for pastures new, here are the key characters in the hot seats

IT WAS WIN or bust. And former CEO Mark Fields’ luck ran out. A much-vaunted partnership with Google to develop autonomous vehicles faltered when Fields appeared keener to play to Wall Street than share info with the tech giant, a business practice anathema in conservative Detroit.

His replacement, Jim Hackett, has a resume that’s rammed with tech company smarts, inking deals as head of Ford’s Smart Mobility program with a number of ancillary services for autonomous vehicle operations.

Bill Ford made it clear at the press conference last month that he expects Hackett to get the automaker operating more quickly.

“The speed at which the world is moving really requires us to make decisions at a faster pace,” he said. “If we’re going to win in this new world, we have to move fast and trust people to move fast.”

In addition to Hackett getting the big office, Ford’s former EMEA vice president Jim Farley has enjoyed a promotion to executive VP global markets, overseeing Australia’s product blueprints. A short odds favourite to replace Hackett in 3-4 years’ time, Farley bolsters the new CEO’s relative auto industry greenness with huge experience from spells at Lexus and Scion.