p After a day of speculation, automaker Ford has announced a significant regime change to underscore its ambitions in connected and self-driving cars: Jim Hackett — who had been running Ford’s Smart Mobility business — is taking over as the company’s CEO, replacing Mark Fields, who is retiring.
The move is a bold attempt to push Ford into what many see as the next generation of auto-making.
This is an area Ford has been criticised for not attacking as well as competitors like GM (which has invested in and works with companies like Lyft, acquired startups like Cruise, and started new initiatives like car-sharing service Maven); and upstarts like Tesla — never mind the likes of Google and Uber.
Hackett is thought of as a turnaround specialist: he spent a long period as the CEO of Steelcase, turning it around from a mundane office furniture maker into one whose products essentially evolved with the changing pace of work (for example, from closed, individual offices into open-plan spaces), and also how the products were made.
Both of those challenges have analogous cases in today’s auto industry — which is straddling two worlds where cars are either seen as dinosaurs or the next great piece of connected hardware.
The hope is that he will be able to apply some of his proven Steelcase magic to Ford.