Ford CEO Jim Hackett has announced that he will retire at the end of September and will be succeeded by current chief operating officer Jim Farley.
Hackett, now 65, has led the Michigan-based company since May 2017 and oversaw a substantial reorganisation of its global business model. He will work alongside Farley until his departure on "a smooth leadership transition".
Executive chairman Bill Ford said: "I'm very grateful to Jim Hackett for all he has done to modernise Ford and prepare us to compete and win in the future.
"Our new product vision – led by the Mustang Mach-E, new F-150 and Bronco family – is taking shape. We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble, which was apparent when we quickly mobilised to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic.”
Farley will take the helm at the Blue Oval, following 13 years of service, as the company embarks upon a new model development partnership with Volkswagen and advances plans to usher in a range of electrified models. His appointment comes as Ford plots its recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.
Bill Ford said "now is the right time" to "let Hackett have a break" and to "elevate Farley" to the role of CEO.
Hackett played a key role in expanding Ford's connectivity offering, reducing bureaucracy and streamlining its global operations. He cited "moving ahead, rather than moving first" as the basis of his management style and said the recent unveilings of the new Bronco and Mustang Mach-E SUVs put the company in a good place.
The American was a relative newcomer to the automotive industry when appointed as Ford CEO in 2017, having previously led the turnaround of office furniture company Steelcase. His successor has a longstanding history with the brand; his grandfather worked at the original Ford factory as early as 1914.
Farley said his predecessor has "laid a solid foundation for a vibrant future". He said his ambitions are to maximise commercial vehicle business opportunities, move to large-scale connectivity services and ensure best-in-class execution of upcoming model launches.
Before joining Ford as vice-president of global marketing in 2007, the 58-year-old American spent 17 years at Toyota, leading the formation of the brand's youth-focussed Scion brand and later taking over as vice-president and general manager of Lexus. Bill Ford said of Farley: "Jim's a car guy through and through, it's his passion and his love."
Bill Ford explained that making the new appointment internally was decided as the best option by the board of management, saying: “Everybody was getting very inspired by Jim Farley’s leadership, and while we talked about it and threw some names around, every time we did that, we felt Jim Farley rose to the top. Sometimes, going outside is great –Alan Mulally and Jim Hackett are proof of that – but there’s great strength in continuity.”
Regarding the potential for additional management changes, he added: "I wouldn't expect any big changes."