Ford replacing CEO in push to transform business

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While it appeared that investors may have been pitting traditional Ford auto development against its high-tech autonomous future, the choice of Hackett conveys that mobility remains a priority at the company.

Ford also made investments in new mobility companies and announced it would have a self-driving shuttle on the road by 2021, but its efforts haven't swayed investors.

Looking to combat Silicon Valley's abrupt push into the vehicle business, Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields hired industry outsider Jim Hackett to help tackle the issue in early 2016.

- Forbes and the New York Times reported James Hackett, head of the Ford unit that works on autonomous vehicles, would take the reins.

Hackett, 62, revived the fortunes of office furniture maker Steelcase as CEO from 1994 to 2014 and his promotion indicates Ford is looking to seize on that expertise as consumer demands change.

Joseph Hinrichs, head of Ford's critical Americas division, will expand his role to become executive vice-president for global operations.

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Ford's stock price has fallen almost 40 percent since Fields took the reins of the company three years ago. Mr. Fields has been planning to launch driverless cars early next decade, but it has been far behind Tesla and GM on electric-car development and executives have struggled to explain how Ford will make money on services other than developing, producing and selling automobiles. He also served as interim athletic director of the University of MI from 2014-2016.

Ford has churned out strong profits under Fields, reporting a record $10.4 billion in pretax earnings in 2016.

We've contacted Ford for comment. At the same time, that mobility strategy has often felt haphazard and ineffective; it's safe to say FordPass hasn't exactly transformed the way we get around. And Ford hasn't kept up with rivals in the electric auto market.

Ford's auto sales are down 25 per cent this year - far more than the overall industry decline in the vehicle segment - and it is making little, if any, money on the cars it does sell. GM's shares are worth around $33, while Ford's languish below $11. Mulally, who joined Ford in 2006 when it was near bankruptcy, was widely credited with ending internal bickering at Ford and streamlining manufacturing.

As part of the shake-up, several Ford executives are taking on new roles as of June 1. Jim Farley, Ford of Europe chief since January 2015, is set to move to oversee Ford's regions, global marketing and sales, as well as its Lincoln Motor Co, the sources said.

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