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1 hour ago, Red Horse said:

Complete dumbass move.  But classic Ford-develop a nice package, then ignore it.  I see more Fusions around my  neck of the woods I'm surprised the annual sales figure wasn't higher-actually I think it was closer to 200 vs. 100.  And its sister the MKZ?  I  have a 3.0T AWD.  It averages close to 25 mpg.  On a road trip, with a heavy foot it will do 28 MPG.  Not bad for 400HP.  And again, a great car IMO that was never advertised

You're right, after they killed off the Focus for North America Fusion sales swelled to around 200k a year, now they're down closer to 100k but sales of most every vehicle are down. Sales of a $20k-30k car may not sound very profitable, but when the tooling is already paid for and the car sells itself with no advertising costs, why kill it?

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Ford gets $634M UK government loan guarantee to protect exports

Bloomberg  /  July 22, 2020

LONDON -- The U.K. government has granted a 500 million pound ($634 million) loan guarantee to Ford Motor Co. to support the automaker’s substantial exports of engines and transmissions from Britain.

The guarantee will help Ford to increase investment in electrification and protect jobs at its sites in Essex and Dagenham, the UK's Department for International Trade said in a statement on Tuesday.

The guarantee covers 80 percent of a 625 million pound ($793 million) loan from commercial banks.

"This financing will help to maintain Ford as a key U.K. exporter," said Graham Hoare, chairman of Ford in Britain, in a statement.

About 85 percent of the engines and 100 percent of the transmissions the company builds in the U.K. are shipped overseas. The value of Ford's U.K. exports, including machined engine components, is around 2.5 billion pounds annually, Hoare said.

Ford and its automotive peers in the U.K. face an uncertain future, with the prospect of tariffs on sales to the EU looming in the event of a no-deal Brexit next year.

They also face extra red tape in the form of customs declarations, separate regulatory regimes and proving the origin of their goods.

The threat of border chaos with the U.K.'s largest export destination is another concern, given the lack of readiness among traders for new paperwork requirements and companies' Brexit preparations being hampered by the coronavirus.

Ford announced plans last year to close its engine factory in Bridgend, Wales.

The automaker is a member of Britain’s automotive trade group that last month called for the government to support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic.

Despite these challenges, U.K. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the British government is focusing on the needs of carmakers.

"A thriving automotive industry is vital to the success of the U.K. economy," Truss said in the statement. "We are putting its needs at the heart of our strategy to remove barriers to trade when negotiating free trade deals."

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Ford gets commitments to extend most of $5.35B in loans

Reuters  /  July 24, 2020

NEW YORK -- Ford Motor Co. has obtained commitments from enough banks to extend the maturity of at least 90 percent of $5.35 billion of revolving loans for one year, a person close to the financing said.

The automaker has been in discussions with its lenders this month about a one-year extension of its $3.35 billion, three-year main corporate revolving credit facility and its $2 billion, three-year supplemental revolving credit facility.

JP Morgan leads the deal, according to thee people close to the transaction.

Ford is seeking to address loan maturities for the first time since downgrades in March removed its last investment-grade rating. The move is expected to test banks’ willingness to lend to a household name in an industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

More lenders could agree to extend before the transaction closes on July 27. The company is looking to complete the extension ahead of its earnings call on July 30, a second person said.

“They want to be prepared so they can say something good,” the second person said. “That they were able to extend the liquidity by another year.”

To incentivize banks to agree to the extension, Ford offered to repay the $3.35 billion three-year main corporate revolver it borrowed in March as part of a larger $15.4 billion draw-down under its credit facility, the two people said.

The company is expected to use cash on its balance sheet to repay the $3.35 billion, three-year loan on July 27 after the amendment and extension closes, two people familiar with the transaction said.

As of April 9, Ford had cash of $34.6 billion, including the revolving credit draw-downs, and $8 billion in bond issuances, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

“We typically don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” said a Ford spokesperson. A JP Morgan spokesperson declined to comment.

Both the $3.35 billion three-year main corporate revolving credit facility and the $2 billion three-year supplemental revolving credit facility come due on April 30, 2022, according to SEC filings. The loans will be extended to 2023, two people close to the transaction said.

The company is offering an all-in spread of 225 basis points over Libor, split between a drawn spread of 175 basis points and an undrawn fee of 50 basis points for the main corporate and supplemental revolving credit facilities that are extended, two sources said.

All lenders who agree to the extension will receive a 40 basis-point fee on the amount extended.

Lenders who choose not to extend will remain in the existing loans at a current all-in spread of 175 basis points over Libor, split between a drawn spread of 147.5 basis points and an undrawn fee of 27.5 basis points for the main corporate and supplemental revolving credit facilities.

The company is leaving unchanged its fully funded $1.5 billion supplemental term loan that matures on Dec. 31, 2022, and the $10.05 billion five-year corporate revolving credit facility due April 30, 2024.

"It's good. Given that they are not in an easy sector," the first person close to the transaction said. "It's a good outcome."

The fees Ford’s lenders received for its $8 billion in bond issuances in April may have helped them get more comfortable with the extension. The perception the US government supported the automaker via the Federal Reserve's corporate bond purchasing program may have been another positive, the source said.

COVID-19 challenges

The company first reached out to its JP Morgan-led bank group in February to refinance $15.4 billion in revolving credits but in March decided to draw down on the facilities and postponed its refinancing plans as market conditions deteriorated, two banking sources said at the time.

The company said borrowings would be used to “offset the temporary working capital impacts of the coronavirus-related production shutdowns and to preserve Ford’s financial flexibility,” according to a March 19 press release.

Ford reported a 33 percent drop in U.S. sales in the second quarter tied to shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders due to the coronavirus.

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Ford fusion is a great car. Ford could have this niche to themselves.

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Repair parts shortages stymie Ford dealers

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  July 27, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to squeeze dealer inventory and threaten vehicle production, retailers are grappling with another issue: a shortage of repair parts for their service departments.

The backlog has affected a number of Ford dealers who say they're waiting weeks, and in some cases more than a month, for parts needed to fix older-model Escape crossovers and Fusion sedans.

In April, Ford issued a technical service bulletin for coolant leaks into the cylinder head of 1.5-liter EcoBoost engines in 2017-19 Escapes and 2014-19 Fusions. The automaker instructed retailers to replace the short block and gasket head.

Dealers say the parts for that repair are taking weeks to arrive as vehicles pile up in their service centers. Ford acknowledges delays this spring but claims the situation has since been resolved.

"There were disruptions in parts supply in early May due to supplier closures caused by COVID-19," Ford said. "Upon reopening, parts production and delivery was expedited, resolving shortages by late June. Ford is not aware of any significant parts delays currently impacting dealer ability to repair these engines."

But dealers say the issue hasn't gone away.

One service manager, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, called the situation a "nightmare" and said the store has a half-dozen Escapes sitting in the shop awaiting repairs. A second dealership official said enough customers had come in with the problem that the person raised it on a 20-group virtual meeting and heard similar responses from peers. An employee at a third dealership said the store cut a five-figure check in June to a rental company so that affected customers could have temporary transportation while waiting for a fix.

Tim Hovik, a member of the Ford council and owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Arizona, said his store has experienced parts delays, although he said they weren't limited to any particular models.

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Dropping all their sedans is the biggest flaw in Ford's current strategy- Minority buyers of all ages and young buyers of all races tend to prefer cars to SUVs and trucks. The effect of dropping cars is most visible in California, where Galpin Ford lost it's title as Ford's top selling dealership due to the loss of sedan offerings. FFI: https://sfvbj.com/news/2020/feb/27/galpins-long-streak-no-1-ford-dealer-ends/

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7 hours ago, Maxidyne said:

Dropping all their sedans is the biggest flaw in Ford's current strategy- Minority buyers of all ages and young buyers of all races tend to prefer cars to SUVs and trucks. The effect of dropping cars is most visible in California, where Galpin Ford lost it's title as Ford's top selling dealership due to the loss of sedan offerings. FFI: https://sfvbj.com/news/2020/feb/27/galpins-long-streak-no-1-ford-dealer-ends/

Well the Kool-aid drinkers will tell you its all about "Average Transaction Price"! And somehow or other, Hackett and Farley believe that customers who come in looking for a car will say..,."oh-no problem, I only wanted to spend "X" but I'll gladly buy your truck or SUV for X +8G's".  

My guess is they are out the door and headed for the Korean car company store.

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That's exactly what's happened- Ford historically has an over 60% customer loyalty rate, but only 20% of Focus owners shopping for a replacement have bought another Ford. The only way to hang on to these car customers is to rebate and discount that sacred "transaction price" down to that of a comparable car, with Ford and the dealers making even less profit!

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Is the threat to Ford's Canada assembly plant real?

Dana Flavelle, Automotive News  /  July 27, 2020

TORONTO -- The union local representing workers at Ford of Canada’s Oakville assembly plant says this isn’t the first time it will go into contract negotiations fighting for a new product, and potentially the plant’s survival.

“We’ve been here before,” said Mark Sciberras, president of Unifor Local 707, which represents nearly 4,200 hourly employees there.

In late 2006, the Freestar minivan, a rebranded version of the popular Windstar, was coming to an end, but the plant would benefit from a C$1 billion ($750 million U.S.) investment to produce the new Edge, said Sciberras.

The Edge would go on to be a big seller in the growing market for crossover utility vehicles, securing the plant’s future for another 15 years.

But this time it’s far from clear what might happen following reports that Ford is scrapping the next-generation Edge, leaving the Oakville plant with no new products after 2023.

Industry observers say Ford, which has declined to confirm or deny the forecast by AutoForecast Solutions, could be floating a trial balloon ahead of fall contract talks with Unifor. But it’s also possible the company might be paving the way to pull the plug on its last remaining vehicle assembly plant in Canada.

“Ford has, historically speaking, had a strong presence in Canada, but so did General Motors,” said Dimitry Anastakis, a professor with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, referring to GM’s decision to close its largest Canadian assembly plant, in Oshawa, in 2019.

“But we’re in a COVID crisis and crises tend to accelerate long-term trends. And the trend in Canada has been to reduce the [auto manufacturing] footprint.”

The global auto industry is facing unprecedented challenges to produce automated, driverless, electrified vehicles while a global pandemic has thrown a massive wrench into sales and profits, said John Holmes, a professor emeritus at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Cash burn

“The capital requirements for the EV, let alone the autonomous stuff, are horrendous. And given they’re all burning through a lot of cash during COVID, it’s not surprising [if] they’ve postponed or canceled some of the programs they were previously committed to,” Holmes said.

Ford has a long history in Canada, starting in 1904 when Henry Ford signed a deal with Gordon McGregor of Walkerville Wagon Works, now in Windsor, Ontario, to produce Ford-branded vehicles for the Canadian market and beyond, taking advantage of Canada’s favorable trade relations with the British Empire.

The company would grow on the early success of the Model T car. Unlike other branch-plant automakers, Ford of Canada had its own shareholders and made its own decisions about which models to build.

“Cars built by Canadians for Canadians,” the ad in the Toronto Daily Star proclaimed in May 1953 when Ford moved its assembly operations and head office to the eastern edge of Oakville to be closer to the growing Toronto market.

Though it would never achieve the massive scale of GM’s assembly plant in Oshawa, Ford Oakville has ranked among the top 10, sometimes top five, largest automakers in Canada, said Brendan Sweeney, managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing.

“This is a very important part of Canada’s manufacturing ecosystem. And certainly, a very important part of Ontario’s economy and the [Greater Toronto Area],” Sweeney said.

Auto pact beneficiary

Along with the rest of the Canadian auto manufacturing industry, Ford benefited from the signing in 1965 of the Auto Pact between Canada and the United States, which imposed local content requirements for vehicles to enjoy tariff-free status.

At its peak, the Oakville operations, including a separate truck plant built in 1966, employed between 7,000 and 8,000 people. But that all changed after Canada and the U.S. added low-cost producer Mexico to a broader North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the Auto Pact was declared illegal by the World Trade Organization in 2001.

The southern U.S. states and Mexico began competing for new automotive assembly plants, offering generous incentives, free land, tax breaks and lower labor costs.

Global automakers began shifting production further south.

In 2004, Ford closed the Oakville truck plant, at a cost of 1,200 jobs.

“That was a big blow for us,” Unifor’s Sciberras said.

The Canadian and Ontario governments responded with incentives aimed at stemming the exodus. Ford was among the beneficiaries.

Since 2005, Ford has invested almost C$3.5 billion ($2.6 billion U.S.) in its Canadian operations while the two levels of government contributed more than C$639 million, according to the automaker.

But incentives were never enough to prevent a wave of auto plant closures that swept through the province. In 2011, Ford announced it would close the Talbotville assembly plant, near St. Thomas, which made the Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis models.

Bailout rebuffed

Ford avoided becoming part of the massive government bailout during the financial crisis of 2008-09 that saw the Canadian and Ontario governments invest C$14 billion in GM and Chrysler to keep them from going out of business. The deal was tied to Canadian production commitments that expired in 2016.

“So they don’t have an obligation with either the federal or provincial governments. But they do have a corporate citizen obligation. They’ve been in Canada more than a century. The Ford people are very sensitive about their history in Canada,” said the University of Toronto’s Anastakis.

He added: “If Oakville does close, that’s going to be really bad news for the Canadian auto industry.”

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Ford’s Attempt to Turn Corner Boosted by Earnings Beat

Keith Naughton, Bloomberg  /  July 30, 2020

Ford Motor Co. posted much better-than-expected results for the latest quarter but projected a full-year loss as it attempts to pull off a restructuring amid the carnage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The automaker said Thursday its operating loss in the second quarter was less than half the $5 billion deficit it had predicted, due mainly to undiminished demand for its sport utility vehicles and trucks despite springtime factory and showroom closures. Ford’s adjusted loss of 35 cents a share was considerably better than the $1.18 per share loss analysts forecast.

The economic crisis caused by the viral outbreak hit Ford two years into an $11 billion global reorganization that leaves Jim Hackett, the company’s chief executive officer, little room for error amid an extended earnings slump. It also comes as the automaker prepares to roll out three critical new models aimed at reversing its fortunes: the electric Mustang Mach-E, the revived Bronco SUV and a redesigned version of its top-selling F-150 pickup, its most profitable model. The virus shutdown at Ford plants delayed those launches by about two months.

Ford’s $1.9 billion loss before interest and taxes compares with crosstown rival General Motors’ second quarter loss of $536 million. In the third quarter, Ford is projecting an adjusted profit of $500 million to $1.5 billion. For the full-year, it expects to post an adjusted loss.

Ford ended the second quarter with more than $39 billion in cash on hand, including $10 billion in new debt. Ford said it has repaid almost half of its $15.4 billion in revolving credit and expects to maintain or exceed a cash balance of $20 billion for the rest of 2020 “even if global demand declines or there is another major wave of pandemic-related plant closures.”

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Ford will defer some quarterly payments on Energy Dept. loan

Reuters  /  July 31, 2020

Ford Motor Co. said Friday it had won approval to defer some quarterly payments due on its U.S. Energy Department retooling loan, but added it will repay the loan on time by June 2022.

In September 2009, Ford was awarded a $5.9 billion low-cost government loan, a key source of liquidity in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The automaker said its loan was modified in June to reduce quarterly principal payments from $148 million to $37 million. Ford said it has $1.26 billion of remaining principal left on the loan.

An Energy Department spokeswoman said "the flexibility the Loan Programs Office was able to provide through this loan modification is a good example of what (Energy) Secretary Brouillette meant when he asked for all of the Department’s resources to be supportive of the energy industry during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Ford said "with COVID-19 related economic uncertainty remaining, we believe that is worthwhile to further strengthen our balance sheet and increase liquidity to optimize our financial flexibility."

The company noted that if it opts to pay a dividend, repurchase shares above a certain threshold, or provide security to other lenders it will have to revert to the original payment schedule.

The company said Friday that "deferring a portion of the principal until the maturity date will also result in incremental interest cost to Ford, in addition to the cost to modify the loan. All costs associated with the modification were covered by Ford through a higher interest rate."

But it added, "the financing remains very cost-effective."

The Energy Department did not comment.

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Jim Hackett to retire as CEO of Ford; Jim Farley named successor

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  August 4, 2020

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett will retire later this year after more than three years leading the automaker and will be succeeded by COO Jim Farley, the company said Tuesday.

Hackett, 65, did not give a reason for his retirement, effective Oct. 1. Ford said he would work with Farley, 58, over the next two months to ensure a smooth transition.

"I am very grateful to Jim Hackett for all he has done to modernize Ford and prepare us to compete and win in the future," Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman, said in a statement. "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 mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic."

Hackett was elevated to CEO in May 2017 to be a change agent at Ford and help speed up its decision making. Under his tenure, Ford instituted a global redesign that prioritized what he called design-thinking.

"My goal when I took on the CEO role was to prepare Ford to win in the future," Hackett said in a statement. "The hardest thing for a proud, long-lived company to do is change to meet the challenges of the world it's entering rather than the world it has known. I'm very proud of how far we have come in creating a modern Ford and I am very optimistic about the future."

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Ford Elevates Farley to CEO After Hackett’s Turnaround Bid Fails

Bloomberg  /  August 4, 2020

Ford Motor Co. said it will promote Jim Farley to CEO on October 1 to replace Jim Hackett, who has elected to retire after his three-year bid to turn around the automaker failed to gain traction.

Farley, 58, became chief operating officer in March when his main internal rival was ousted following the botched launch of the Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle. Ford’s stock was slumping under Hackett, 65, before the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the second-largest U.S. automaker’s woes.

Last week, Ford posted a second-quarter operating loss that was less than half the $5 billion deficit it had predicted, due in part to demand for its SUVs and trucks holding up better than feared. But some of the company’s overperformance also could be chalked up to an on-paper gain from its investment in self-driving startup Argo AI.

Ford shares climbed as much as 1.7% shortly after the open of regular trading. The stock is still down 28% this year.

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Well, at least they got rid of Farley...

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27 minutes ago, Maxidyne said:

Well, at least they got rid of Farley...

Hackett

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Pardon me, I'm no fan of either so easy to confuse.

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Ford CEO Ending Stormy Tenure Makes Way for Heir Who Bleeds Blue

Keith Naughton, Bloomberg  /  August 4, 2020

Ford CEO Jim Hackett knew it was time to retire -- again -- when he watched his heir apparent rise to the occasion of a global pandemic that the carmaker thought would lead to a $5 billion quarterly loss.

The former office-furniture executive stepped back into a CEO role at the begging of Executive Chairman Bill Ford but had struggled through a stormy tenure at the second-largest U.S. automaker. As Hackett watched Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley shave more than $3 billion off the deficit Ford had been expecting, he realized it was time to leave.

“It kind of hit me like a lightning bolt that this is really the right time,” Hackett, 65, told Bloomberg News in an interview. “I said to myself, ‘If I retire now, Jim can take the advantage of all these things he and I have done together.’”

Farley, 58, is described by peers as having the will and the skill to get Ford out of the rut it’s been in since the departure of Alan Mulally, who hocked the company’s blue-oval logo to hoard cash and was the only Detroit CEO to keep his carmaker out of bankruptcy in 2009. Farley has spoken about the challenges Ford faces now in stark tones and has warned he may continue to break china and bruise egos, as he has on his way to the top.

“For me on a personal level, it’s quite -- sorry, I’m just getting a little emotional,” Farley said, choking back tears during a phone interview. Bill Ford, the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, convinced Farley to leave Toyota Motor Corp. in the lead-up to the global financial crisis. His own grandfather, an orphan, was employee No. 389 at the company and worked at a factory near Detroit that built Model Ts.

“It’s quite humbling to think about my grandfather going into Highland Park and how humble his life was before that,” Farley said. “How much opportunity happened because of Ford. I just feel very in debt to the company.”

Unstable Footing

Ford was already on wobbly footing before Farley and Hackett were drawing up plans to recover from months-long factory shutdowns forced by efforts to contain the coronavirus.

The company was two years into an $11 billion restructuring Hackett laid out to update a global vehicle lineup that had gotten stale under his predecessor, Mark Fields. He prioritized loading new models with greater connectivity features and spent heavily on electrifying powertrains and freed up resources by killing off passenger cars in North America.

But the first of Ford’s major redesigns under Hackett’s watch, the Explorer, went awry due to factory personnel and technological problems. The company also has been behind the curve from an electric-vehicle standpoint, with the Mustang Mach-E coming out well after Tesla Inc. has made plug-in models more mainstream.

It took decades for middle managers to convince top brass to bring back the Bronco sport-utility vehicle, and the all-important F-150 has aged relative to General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV full-size pickups.

“We would have thought Hackett would have stayed on through the current product launch cycle (F-150, Bronco) with a transition in 2021,” Joe Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets who rates Ford the equivalent of a hold, wrote to clients. “The timing occurring now to us suggests Ford is ready to take on a more aggressive, faster-moving path forward.”

Ford shares rose 2.5% on Tuesday, paring their decline during Hackett’s tenure to 37%.

Hackett’s Challenge

Hackett said he made it clear to Bill Ford from the beginning that he was “not the long-term solution” for the carmaker when, in 2017, the great-grandson of Henry Ford asked him to come out of retirement. The former CEO of furniture maker Steelcase Inc. said he was more focused on changing Ford’s culture than currying favor with Wall Street.

“I was going to be a challenge for a world where everything revolved around Wall Street,” Hackett said. “What I wanted to do was work from the inside on our employees, on our executives, on motivation to want to change the arc of the company.”

During a call with reporters, Farley named the likes of Amazon Inc., Apple Inc. and Baidu Inc., the Chinese search-engine giant, when listing companies he views as Ford’s competitors. He said the carmaker will push further into digital services as it connects all its vehicles to the internet.

“Will we need new talent to help us get there, to compete against these new competitors? Absolutely,” Farley said. “Do we need to challenge our business model? In some cases we will have to. So it will require new ways and new capabilities.”

‘Car Nut’

While Farley spent almost a year focusing on Ford’s future as president of new businesses, technology and strategy before becoming COO, his ties to Ford’s past go beyond family. Two years ago, he drove his 1965 Ford GT40 in an event loosely based on the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. A 1973 Bronco and new Mustang are his vehicles of choice for getting to the office.

“Farley is a life-long car nut and has just very, very deep automotive automotive experience, both at Ford and Toyota,” said David Whiston, an analyst with Morningstar Inc., who rates the company a hold. “Farley is not about an esoteric process or fancy chit-chat. He wants results and he works like a lunatic.”

Building revenue from digital service, while putting out electric and autonomous vehicles, could finally reverse Ford’s six-year stock slide, Farley said during the interview. Its market capitalization has slipped to just $27.2 billion, less than a tenth of Tesla’s stock value.

“We have this incredible opportunity to create value that’s not reflected in our valuation,” he said. “And that’s the intersection between technology and our traditional products. These growth initiatives will really change Ford for many years to come.”

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Hackett won over some dealers, but not Wall Street

Nick Bunkley, Automotive News  /  July 4, 2020

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. stock lost 35 percent of its value in the three years that Mark Fields was CEO.

Under his successor, Jim Hackett, the stock has fallen 38 percent.

Despite an overhaul of the product lineup and his $11 billion restructuring to make the company a more agile competitor, the continued decline in Ford's valuation on Wall Street may be how shareholders primarily remember the former Steelcase CEO who was brought in as a "cultural change agent."

After coming out of retirement to replace Fields in the hopes of reinvigorating the automaker, Hackett will leave behind a legacy of mixed results. That could change depending on how Ford does in the coming years under Jim Farley.

"I was always impressed by the fact he was always thinking ahead," said Rhett Ricart, CEO of Ricart Automotive Group. "He made a lot of good moves behind the scenes that I think he'll get more credit for as time goes on. I think he did an admirable job in very tough circumstances."

Hackett streamlined Ford's operations, which included eliminating thousands of salaried jobs, and gave remaining workers the ability to act quicker with less bureaucracy to navigate. He introduced new phrases to the Ford lexicon — such as "fitness," "clock speed" and "design thinking" — but his abstract way of speaking hurt his ability to win the confidence of workers and dealers, especially early on.

Hackett told Ford employees to separate issues into the "now," "near" and "far," likening the view to a bull's-eye with those words in concentric circles. His job, he told them, is to manage Ford in each of those circles to ensure success.

"For his ability to drive change into a company like Ford, I think history will be very kind," Farley told Automotive News.

The upcoming Mustang Mach-E electric crossover and Bronco SUV have been received positively, but quality problems marred last year's launch of a redesigned Ford Explorer.

Profits frequently lagged the results posted across town by General Motors. After a "mediocre" performance in 2018, Hackett urged employees to "bury the year in a deep grave." In 2019, which he promised would be a "year of execution," the Explorer problems contributed to a 99 percent drop in profits. Then Ford suffered more setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic this spring, though it reported better-than-expected second-quarter results last week.

After some dealers complained that Hackett was too aloof in his first year as CEO, he apologized and promised to be more accessible. In the end, many dealers came to speak positively about him and the changes he made.

"I don't know that you can give him a grade that isn't an A or a B, from a dealer perspective," Ricart said. "Now if you're an investor, you'll say that you aren't making any money on your investment … but in the grand scheme of things, there's some hot product that's coming."

Hackett pushed back the timeline for Ford to roll out autonomous vehicles, saying the company and others in the industry "overestimated" how quickly the technology would be ready.

At the 2018 Automotive News World Congress, nine months into his tenure, Hackett dismissed speculation that he wanted to get back to retirement quickly.

"Every month on the Ford job is a marble in a jar," Hackett said at the time. "Imagine there's 84 marbles in that jar. I've now taken nine out. The wisdom in that is how fast they go."

In the end, Hackett will have taken out fewer than half of those 84 marbles. But he told Automotive News last December that he already was seeing real progress in his transformation plan for Ford.

"I see a dramatic improvement in the business," Hackett said. "When I came in, it was my observation that it had been frozen a little bit, like caught in amber. Everything that was great about it was frozen. ... Ford needed to break the amber and start to transform."

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