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 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.

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, Mustang and 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 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.

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.

Our Verdict

The first-generation Ford EcoSport
The EcoSport is a front-engined, front-wheel-drive compact crossover

Fiesta-based crossover faces stiff competition. Is it up to the task?

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Comments
14

jer

7 June 2017
Sharp intake of breath.. .here we go again. The Product has to be the best it can be in the market it serves (so EcoSport was top down Michigan BS). Shared platforms must be global leaders and enablers of the first point otherwise the whole premise collapses.

7 June 2017
The best thing about the motor industry is your main income is from a limited number of main products (less than 8 usually)that have a life cycle of over 6 or so years so passing comment is easy.
Ford got it right big time in USA with the F150 but elsewhere sales have declined in line with quality of the product over the various mk's e.g Focus which by no means is a great seller outside the UK, the next Fiesta hasn't moved the goalposts either, ditto the Kuga and where's a proper EV.
p.s FATCEZCH I don't need an opinion on my opinion and you rabbiting on about how much better the GT is than the "bloated" NSX

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 June 2017
Damm the loss of the edit function, the current Fiesta is a huge seller in Europe (not so much in USA), hate to think what that 40% decline would have been if that model had disappointing sales too. Apologies.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 June 2017
xxxx wrote:

... Focus which by no means is a great seller outside the UK, the next Fiesta hasn't moved the goalposts either, ditto the Kuga

The Kuga may have so-so sales in the EU, but it's now Fords nº2 in the US behind the F series, selling more than 300k/year.

I couldn't agree more about the Focus though. And seeing as the next gen is pretty much ready to go, i'm afraid we're going to get stuck with another watered down, world pleasing-but-not-really car for the next couple of years.

 

 

7 June 2017
tuga wrote:
xxxx wrote:

... Focus which by no means is a great seller outside the UK, the next Fiesta hasn't moved the goalposts either, ditto the Kuga

The Kuga may have so-so sales in the EU, but it's now Fords nº2 in the US behind the F series, selling more than 300k/year.

I couldn't agree more about the Focus though. And seeing as the next gen is pretty much ready to go, i'm afraid we're going to get stuck with another watered down, world pleasing-but-not-really car for the next couple of years.

True, it might be Ford’s number 2. In April it was number 12 in the charts but, significantly, 3 SUV’s in the same class, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue all sold more with the first 2 selling 50% more. Bear in mind this patriotic America where the American’s SUV is being whipped by 3 different Japanese SUV’s.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 June 2017
xxxx wrote:

True, it might be Ford’s number 2. In April it was number 12 in the charts but, significantly, 3 SUV’s in the same class, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue all sold more with the first 2 selling 50% more. Bear in mind this patriotic America where the American’s SUV is being whipped by 3 different Japanese SUV’s.

Well, their patriotism when regarding cars is kinda dubious, seeing as for how long the Camrys and Accords of this world have lead their sales charts :), but when it comes to SUVs it might be a generational thing; Midsize SUV sales may be dominated by Japanese manufacturers, but large SUVs are mostly American brands. And Ford has a major footprint with the Explorer and Edge.

I just wish they'd go back to having something iconic in their line up again, something that was truly a benchmark for their competitors ( other than the Fiesta ). Lets see what they can come up with this time.

 

 

7 June 2017
I thought the Kuga was the Qashqai competitor for those who wanted a jumped up hatchback?

Or are they going to do like everyone else and just flood the market with the things?

I'm hoping the crossover/SUV craze ends. Sick of them.

7 June 2017
The Fiesta is a good car so sells well. The Focus is still a reasonably good car, but lost ground because they replaced the old model with one that was less practical!

Now onto models that don't sell so well.......they replaced the great driving Mondeo with one that doesn't drive so well (i.e. based on the US Fusion model). They make a few minor modifications to budget models they sell in developing countries then sell them elsewhere for premium prices (Ecosport and Ka+). They come up with a good idea like the pillar-less sliding doors on the B-Max then make the styling look terrible. They create a 7 seater C-max only to fit seats that don't even have full height seat backs in the third row (and the styling is ugly too).

To address this Ford need to hire good designers to pen attractive cars that are also practical inside - they already have expertise of making great drivers cars. They also need to ditch the cheap-skate re-badging of budget models sold in developing countries - it doesn't fool anyone and indeed damages Ford's reputation. Global cars are only ok if they meet customer expectations in all countries they are sold in. Or sell those budget cars for a budget price here but under a budget sub-brand to distance them from the main Ford brand, like the Renault and Dacia relationship.

Once they have done that, they should address the Vignale brand direction. Producing high spec, very expensive versions of Ford models is a terrible idea. People don't see these cars as rivals for prestige makes, and the depreciation on them is huge. The direction they should be taking is by making models that capitalise on mixing Ford's past heritage with future ambitions. Models like a retro inspired MK1 Escort Mexico revamp in the same vein as BMW's Mini for example. Ford should be taking advantage of a similar public love for their old greats of the past that BMW enjoy with the Mini.

This separate brand would allow Ford to let it's creative juices flow (and will be all the better for it) - I'd certainly be queuing up for a modern take on the Escort MK1 Mexico with the 1.5 Ecoboost engine from the next Fiesta ST. Or a Capri Coupe, RS2000 droop snoop, Ford Anglia, whale-tail Sierra Cosworth......

 

Everyone has a right to an opinion - don't confuse that with insulting your mother :-)

7 June 2017
The American Fusion aka as our Mondeo is built on derivative of the EUCD platform which is the European Mondeo before.

The Mondeo is actually a decent car and in the right spec a great looking car. It's also a decent handler, the reviews state it's not as nimble as the old one, it's better than most of the competition though.

Ford need to concentrate on its key models, the Fiesta although a good car is old now, as is the Focus. They need to keep up to date with them

The eco sport was always going to be a mistake as it was massively under developed for the markets outside of where it was going to be sold.

7 June 2017
What if most people turn out to not actually want driverless cars and electric vehicles?

Did the self-playing piano catch on? They never make mistakes.

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