When he takes over on Oct. 1, Jim Farley will be different from many of the Ford CEOs that have come before him. He’s a certified car nut.
The current COO, who came to the automaker from Lexus in 2007, is an avid car collector who co-owns and drives a 1965 Ford GT40 similar to the ones featured in the film “Ford v Ferrari” in vintage racing events.
That’s not something you’ll see Jim Hackett, Mark Fields or Alan Mulally doing on any given Sunday.
He’s also competed in a 1966 Shelby Cobra and owns an original Ford Bronco, the inspiration for one of the automaker’s most important upcoming new models.
Farley isn’t an engineer, his background is more in product planning and marketing, but he’s a gearhead who spends his free time working on his cars. He once told the Detroit Free Press that racing the GT40 over 200 mph is his “yoga.”
“Jim is a car guy through and through,” Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. said in a press call about Farley’s promotion.
“It is his passion and it’s his love.”
Farley’s grandfather started working at Ford’s River Rouge complex in 1913, an opportunity he said has afforded his family a better life ever since.
Under Hackett, Farley has been very involved in several initiatives, including the elimination of sedans from Ford’s lineup and pursuit of new technologies.
Farley also helped introduce a new line of performance models, like the Edge and Explorer ST utility vehicles.
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Farley said Ford’s future opportunity lies in several areas like e-mobility, software and a growing lineup of “affordable” vehicles, and cited an array of “well-financed and voracious companies,” including Amazon, Baidu, Tesla, Apple and Toyota as competitors in the coming years.
Farley added that his mission in Ford is to improve the lives of customers who buy its products and services that they can’t live without.
“It’s not our history that made the Bronco great. It was a small team of people who were obsessed with creating an insanely cool product and awesome experiences for a group of customers that our team loved.”