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Ford is redefining its future aims and reorganising its top brass in the wake of the departure of Mark Fields, who has been replaced as CEO by Jim Hackett

Ford is overhauling its management and product planning to accelerate the arrival of new models – such as a Nissan Qashqai rival – and self-driving technology after the surprise departure of CEO Mark Fields.

Jim Hackett, Fields’ replacement, joined the Ford management board four years ago. He is said to be refocusing the top management ‘Business Plan Review’ (BPR) meeting towards future product and strategy rather than weekly problem solving.

Together with a senior management overhaul and a clearer focus on communicating technology developments, Hackett will try to arrest Ford’s 40% share price decline, which prompted the end of Fields’ three-year reign as CEO, despite Ford forecasting profits this year of $9 billion (£6.95bn).

“You have to look at the share price as the main driving force in this decision,” a source told Autocar. Fields is also said to have, in the eyes of the board, lost focus on the current business while attempting to turn Ford into a ‘mobility services’ company.

Why Ford's ex-CEO Fields wasn’t the man for the job

The Hackett-led shakeup will put Ford of Europe president Jim Farley in charge of all selling activities as the new head of global markets. The president of Ford’s operations in the Americas, Joe Hinrichs, will take control of product development and manufacturing. Raj Nair will move from chief engineer to become president of Ford North America and Hau ThaiTang, who was chief engineer on the 2005 Ford Mustang, will lead global product development and purchasing. Ford of Europe COO Steven Armstrong will take over Farley’s former position.

Hackett’s move to overhaul its top management BPR meeting will change the focus of one of the major advances in the Fields/Alan Mulally era, which has been credited with pulling Ford’s departmental silos into a common direction.

Significantly, it will free Ford’s top managers to concentrate on introducing self-driving technology, electrification and new revenue streams from mobility services alongside new model launches.

Day-to-day operations, it is understood, will be handled by a secondary organisational set-up.

There are no plans for Ford to follow General Motors and sell off its European arm because the division is now a valuable asset. After years in the doldrums, it has been making profits since 2015. It also engineers powertrains, platforms and models that are sold globally. “Selling Ford of Europe is not going to happen,” a source told Autocar.

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Ford’s product planning process will be freed to better identify global trends, like the emergence of the B-segment SUV and C-segment crossover.

Under Fields and his predecessor, Mulally, Ford’s product planning was organised under the ‘One Ford’ banner to deliver individual models engineered to multiple global standards.

Hackett said: “What One Ford doesn’t do as well is deal with a lot of complex strategies, with many elements.”

Mainstream models such as the Fiesta and Focus thrived under the One Ford regime. Both are brilliant to drive and the Fiesta is consistently the UK’s best-seller and recently outsold the Volkswagen Golf as Europe’s number one. One Ford has also delivered compelling performance models such as the Focus RS, Ford Mustang and Ford GT.

2017 Ford GT review

But to make production, models had to be viable in all key markets — North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. As a result, development of spin-off models like B-segment SUVs has been patchy.

One view is that the complexity of global planning for One Ford models hampered decision making and encouraged ‘one size fits all’ vehicles.

Product planning on a global basis has certainly led to some below-par models such as the Ford Ecosport SUV, engineered in Brazil, built in India and not up to European standards. The latest Ecosport is doing better and European sales were up 42% to 9200 in the first quarter of 2017, according to market analysts JATO. But rivals from Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall-Opel each outsell it by up to three to one.

To better match European expectations, production of the Ecosport will be moved from India to Romania this autumn. The car will get a new interior and under-skin improvements.

But the Ecosport has already been re-engineered three times in its five-year lifespan. And with hindsight, the costs associated with that would have better been allocated to a higher-quality initial design.

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There is another element to moving Ecosport production. Adding its volume bails out the Craiova plant, whose B-Max compact MPV is selling in a shrinking market. It built only 40k units last year, despite being planned at over 100k.

Ford to release mass-market autonomous car in 2021

Ford is also moving to add a new European-themed crossover, codenamed C430, which can finally provide it with rival to the market-leading Qashqai. But it won’t arrive until 2019 — 13 years after the Nissan soft-roader’s debut.

Hackett might reflect that, given the choice again, Ford might not have spent scarce resources on re-engineering the Fusion for Europe, where it sells in a shrinking segment.

Hackett didn’t provide any detail on his plan to transition Ford to electrified powertrains, although finance director Bob Shanks confirmed that $4.5bn (£3.47bn) continues to be earmarked for new EVs and $1bn (£770m) for autonomous vehicles, with a target of a Level 4 self-driving car by 2021.

Ford’s main thrust on EVs is a 13-model line-up, including an SUV in 2020, possibly badged Model E, with a 300-mile range.

Rivals are being readied for a similar launch date, so Ford’s product planning is looking on schedule in this cutting-edge technology.

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Thekrankis 7 June 2017

Apart from The Fiesta I'm not sure Ford makes any 'great' cars

OK maybe the Focus is good but after that I'm struggling.
The Mondeo has become a bloated yank-tank.
The Ka and Ka plus are ugly characterless blobs.
The Eco thing is a pile of junk.
Transit vans are unreliable and flimsy.
The Kuga is too big and expensive.

Shame. Ford can and still could make world beating cars again.

Carfan 7 June 2017

Case of mistaken identity?

I don't know what Ford stands for anymore. They posh up the dashboards then use terrible rubbery steering wheel covers and bosses (that's the thing the buyer sees/touches the most!). They put 1990's teenager bedroom curtains on the seats. And just take a look at their distribution network. It's so old fashioned. Aircraft hangers with not an inch of carpet anywhere, no seating areas with sofa's for coffee when the car is being serviced, no TV's or Radio (they have office chairs and plastic/paper cups), and 20 of the same model on the forecourt that have obvs been bought at auction from a fleet company. It all looks cheap, so people think it is cheap. People want to feel special and proud of their purchase - go to Mini or dare I say VW and you get to buy into something cohesive and consistent across everything they do - whether you like them or not is not my point. Sad because there's so much opportunity in the cars - the Fiesta is a cracker for the money and the original Ka was much loved in Europe.
the instigator 7 June 2017

Ford sadly now on path to bankruptcy...

"But to make production, models had to be viable in all key markets — North America, Europe and Asia Pacific"... so re-tooling the F150 Truck shouldn't have been signed-off then because it certainly isn't viable in Europe!

I worked for FoE some years ago and IMHO they were never that good at strategic marketing then, seems that little has improved here.

Ford's blinkered approach to One Ford will see them possibly only survive long term in the US. What happened to segmenting the worldwide market opportunity, by customer type and preferences, cultural/economic emergence and ability to buy at target price bands, and geography.

You only need to look at Honda who largely have the same policy, most if not all recent product decisions have been USA centric and as a result Honda are pretty much no where in Europe as a market, OK in Japan and probably are or about to get eaten alive by current Korean and emerging Chinese brands across Asia Pacific, South America and Africa. When the American market next cycles round again to a downturn, seemingly both Ford and Honda and now GM are potentially seriously exposed.

Product planning and finance led businesses litter the wayside around the world, only market led and properly segmented customer centric thinking brands survive, provided they have the will and ability to compete and give their prospective customer types "competitive stand- up" products to buy.

Ford, you are not selling soap, so what ever happened to "think global - act local" ?

Maybe the changes coming to the Eco Sport will prove that One Ford is a dead duck and One "Market Segmented Centric" Ford is a better bet.