Ford CEO Jim Hackett is retiring, to be replaced by COO Jim Farley, the automaker announced Wednesday. Farley was also elected to the Ford board of directors.
“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,” Bill Ford, the carmaker’s executive chairman, said in a statement.
“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.”
Farley’s appointment becomes effective October 1.
Hackett stepped into the CEO role in 2017, taking over for Mark Fields. He had been leading an $11 billion restructuring of the 117-year-old automaker. There has been speculation in the auto industry about how long he would remain in the top job at Ford, especially after former COO Joe Hinrichs left earlier this year, following a 19-year career with Ford.
That move was seen as clarifying a succession plan for the automaker, with Farley next in line when Hackett retired.
For Hackett, the timing was everything.
“It just hit me in the spring,” Hackett, 65, said on a conference call with reporters. He said when he asked himself when the right time to retire would be, his answer was, “Let’s do it now, with the wind in our sails.”
Ford recently reported coronavirus-impacted second-quarter earnings that were better than Wall Street expected. The company had also brought in more than 150,000 reservations for its Bronco SUV.
Ford said that Hackett and Farley will work together to ensure an orderly transition and that Hackett will remain as an advisor through March of 2021.
“My goal when I took on the CEO role was to prepare Ford to win in the future,” Hackett said in a statement. “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.”
This story is developing.
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