Ford Motor Co. is again revamping its top ranks, splitting leadership of the company between two of CEO Jim Hackett’s top lieutenants in what industry watchers label as a battle to be the carmaker’s next top executive.
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The announcement comes as the Dearborn, Michigan-based company looks to hasten work on an $11 billion global restructuring plan that has already led to the elimination of several international operations and layoffs in the U.S. and Europe.
“In the past two years, we have made tangible progress in improving the fitness of our business, overhauled our regional strategies, created a winning product portfolio, and are working to transform Ford to succeed in an era of profound change and disruption,” CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. “With this strong foundation in place for our auto and mobility businesses, we can now accelerate our transformation.”
On May 1, Joe Hinrichs will become president of automotive operations, overseeing Ford’s global product development, manufacturing and sales, as well as international business units including North America, South America and China.
Formerly head of global markets, Jim Farley will now oversee Ford’s self-driving vehicle unit, as well as global partnerships and other divisions as president of new business, technology and strategy.
The split divides Ford between its traditional business and the carmaker's aspirational future. And while analysts largely believe his job to be safe, the leadership shakeups -- spurred by the retirement of president Marcy Klevorn -- position either Hinrichs or Farley to assume control of the company if Hackett steps down.
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Hinrichs’ role allows him to oversee the automotive giant’s sprawling international operations, while Farley’s role in managing the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle development puts him in charge of one of Ford’s most significant future revenue streams.
Ford recently hired former Snap Inc. CFO and Amazon executive Tim Stone to replace outgoing CFO Bob Shanks, among other leadership changes.
The carmaker on Wednesday also issued a safety recall for roughly 327,000 trucks that were previously serviced during a prior recall over potential issues with the vehicles that can lead to overheating.