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CEO Jim Hackett is leaving Ford: Here’s what that could mean for the auto giant’s future

Ford Motor Co.’s president and CEO, Jim Hackett, is retiring. He will be replaced by current COO Jim Farley, the automaker announced Tuesday morning.

CEO Jim Hackett is leaving Ford: Here’s what that could mean for the auto giant’s future
Jim Farley (left) and Jim Hackett (right). [Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]

Jim Hackett, the president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., is retiring and will be replaced by current COO Jim Farley, the automaker announced Tuesday morning.

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The transition will happen on October 1.

Hackett has held the position since 2017 and before that, was chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary of the Dearborn, Michigan-based auto manufacturer. He came to the Ford from across the state; Hackett was the longtime CEO of Steelcase, the office furniture giant headquartered in Grand Rapids.

Farley’s promotion is a return to Ford’s tradition of hiring CEOs already deep in the automotive industry. (One notable exception is Alan Mulally, who made his name at Boeing.) He was hired by Ford in 2007 as the global head of marketing and sales.

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Wall Street hasn’t warmed to the CEO announcement. Ford stock is $6.82, up 13 cents or 1.94%, in midmorning trading.

“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,” Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, said in a written 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.”

But under Hackett’s watch, the company also dealt with a messy, bungled launch of the 2020 Explorer SUV and a poorly timed debut of the 2021 Bronco, initially slated for O.J. Simpson’s birthday.

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A few months after Hackett took the top job at Ford in 2017, he spoke at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York about the rise of smart cars.

“There are things that today are virtuous that may not persist, and I can give you one—a dumb car,” he said. “Once you experience the smartness that you have in your vehicle, there’s no way you’ll look back.”

But he also admitted he’s “not a car guy,” something Ford could arguably use right now as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the economy and impact auto sales. In late March, when the pandemic just started to take hold, Ford shares hit their lowest point since the Great Recession.

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