Ford Pivots to Focus on Mobility After Replacing CEO

Ford Motor Co., following pressure from shareholders over sagging stock prices, named Jim Hackett as its new CEO, replacing Mark Fields.

Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase, recently served as chairman of Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary created last year to handle the automaker’s investments in autonomous vehicles and new mobility services. Fields had been investing billions into self-driving cars and ridesharing experiments like Chariot, as its traditional car business has struggled in a slowing U.S. market. As recently as last week, Fields announced that Ford will cut 1,400 salaried jobs in order to strengthen the OEM’s bottom line.

“Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility,” Ford said said in a statement. “The company’s plan is to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.”

And by appointing Hackett, Ford appears to be following its top mobility competitor’s footsteps — such as General Motors Co.‘s — to more aggressively pursue the mobility sector.

Although Ford plans to have level 4 autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021, the automaker has struggled behind automakers like Tesla and GM, as well as technology companies like Waymo — all of which have been testing self-driving vehicles. GM has partnered and invested $500 million into Lyft, launched the car-sharing company Maven, and purchased autonomous car startup Cruise Automation. And Tesla plans to deploy an autonomous ridesharing network, with additional details to be announced later this year. Also, Waymo and Lyft recently announced their own partnership.

“I do think the vision and our role in that [mobility] future has to be better,” Hackett said during a press conference today. “I know that, that can be better and we can build enthusiasm for Ford.”

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