DETROIT – Ford Motor Company is shaking up the executive suit with a major promotion and a retirement.
Jim Farley will become the chief operating officer, responsible for all global markets and automotive operations, officials said. He will report to CEO Jim Hackett.
Meanwhile, President Joe Hinrichs will retire after 19 years with Ford.
“Jim Farley is the right person to take on this important new role,” Hackett said. “Jim’s passion for great vehicles and his intense drive for results are well known. He has also developed into a transformational leader with the imagination and foresight to help lead Ford into the future.”
That Ford felt the need to make this kind of shakeup means there’s trouble at the Glass House. It’s moving quickly now to find a better and faster way to get to the autonomous and electric future profitably. Competing with Tesla is getting more difficult.
To get to the heart of the move, look no further than the new Ford Explorer, which rolled out this time last year. The launch was a disaster, and that can’t happen in this competitive environment and in the middle of a corporate turnaround that’s three years old.
Hinrichs’ expertise is in manufacturing, and this happening on his watch ended his 19-year Ford career.
“Joe was really beloved by so many people,” Autotrade auto analyst Michelle Krebs said.
Now Farley, 57, will take over as COO. He has been with Ford for 13 years and is a former Toyota rising star who most recently worked on the autonomous and electric vehicle program at the heart of Hackett’s overhaul of Ford.
“Jim Hackett has been redesigning the company structure, so they created the COO position so that Jim Harley can step into the CEO spot when the time comes for Mr. Hackett to leave,” auto analyst John McElroy said.
McElroy believes this move sets the stage for Hackett’s departure to be sooner, rather than later.
“He turns 65 years old on April 22, and Ford has a policy of having its top executives retire at that age unless the board invites them to stay on,” McElroy said. “I don’t think he’s going to get that invite.”
On Ford’s Friday morning conference call, Hackett denied he is anywhere near leaving the company.
The auto business is bare-knuckle, so if Ford’s turnaround doesn’t start showing profit soon, more change could happen quickly.