Jim Hackett new Ford CEO

New Ford CEO Takes the Helm. The Winds of Change are Upon Us.

Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields, is retiring from the company and will be replaced by James Hackett, who was running the Smart Mobility division of Ford. Hackett formerly was the head of office furniture maker Steelcase.

Now the questions are what is next for Ford? And is Hackett a “car guy”?

You might wonder how a furniture maker entered the car business. Well, he realized that Steelcase had to change with the times and offer furniture settings that allowed for shared workspaces, more open environments and allow for the free flowing of ideas and technologies. The titans of Silicon Valley appreciated that viewpoint, but not sure that translates to “car guy”.

As head of the Smart Mobility division, he was assigned last year the autonomous car movement and the ride sharing future. So, you can expect Ford to move ahead with new innovations and concepts. All of Detroit seems to be trying to shake off the image of just a car maker and becoming more of a hardware producer. After all, the next surge of competition might be coming from Uber, Google, and Apple.

Ford CEO Mark Fields at 2015 NAIASFields oversaw the “aluminization” of the F-150 truck to shave weight and increase gas mileage. Given that this truck is the number one seller, not much change will occur there. But projects like the Ford GT and upgraded Mustangs might languish. The development costs of these speedy rockets might not make economic sense, given the low volumes of the specialty cars.

The Ford press release focuses on Hackett “sharpening operational execution … modernizing Ford’s business …and transforming the company to meet future challenges.” Rising Ford’s stock price is probably also on the horizon. In the future, you can expect more talk about Ford moving into new technologies and less about the next year’s car models.

Mark C. Bach is a well preserved automotive junkie, due to the Arizona dry heat. He loves anything that moves and is especially fond of muscle cars and classics.