Dearborn’s Ford Creates Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC for New Detroit Corktown Facility

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Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn Tuesday announced it has created Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, an organization charged with accelerating its autonomous vehicle business to capitalize on market opportunities.

The new organization will include Ford’s self-driving systems integration, autonomous vehicle research and advanced engineering, autonomous vehicle transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy, and business development teams.

The organization is structured to take on third-party investment and will be primarily based at Ford’s Corktown campus in Detroit. It will hold Ford’s ownership stake in Argo AI, the company’s Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development. Ford expects to invest $4 billion in its autonomous vehicle efforts through 2023, including its $1 billion investment in Argo AI.

“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain – from technology development to business model innovation to user experience,” says Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”

Sherif Marakby, currently vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, was appointed CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles and will report to a board of directors chaired by Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s executive vice president and president of mobility.

With Marakby’s move, Ted Cannis, global director of electrification, will lead Ford’s Team Edison, which is responsible for developing and bringing to market next-generation electric vehicles. Team Edison, located at The Factory in Corktown, will continue to report to Jim Farley, executive vice president and president of global markets.

Ford’s electric vehicle strategy includes rethinking the ownership experience, including making charging an effortless experience at home and on the road, as well as offering full-vehicle, over-the-air software updates.

Ford is also reorganizing its Global Operations division led by Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president, to include information technology and the company’s global order-to-delivery system, integrating the teams, technology, and processes from both across Ford’s production system. Jeff Lemmer, vice president and chief information officer, will report to Hinrichs.

“The evolution of computing power and IT have helped bring great products to customers – from cars to tablets,” says Hackett. “We can now harness this technology to unlock a new world of vehicle personalization, supply chain choreography, and inventory leanness that rivals any industrial model in the world – and Joe’s challenge is to help us redesign this system to do just that – while better serving customers and dealers and improving our overall fitness.”

Hau Thai-Tang, executive president of product development and purchasing, will now report directly to Hackett. Under Thai-Tang, Ford is moving flexible vehicle architectures and more common parts across models, cutting new product development time from sketch to dealer showroom by 20 percent. This is expected to help Ford achieve its commitment to deliver nearly $7 billion of engineering efficiencies. Ford’s goal is to have the most efficient product development organization among full-line automakers within five years.

All organization changes are effective Aug. 1.

Ford is also embedding a deeper product-line focus across the company. The effort will be led by Farley and anchored on human-centered design with product-line teams putting greater emphasis on customer insights and market opportunities.

By 2020, Ford’s goal is to offer North America’s freshest lineup among all full-line automakers, with its average showroom age dropping from 5.7 to 3.3 years as it replaces three-quarters of its lineup and adds four new trucks and SUVs. The company has similar plans for other regions, including Europe and Asia.

“We’re looking at every part of our business, making it more fit, and ensuring that every action we take is driven by what will serve our customers in a way that supports our fitness and performance goals,” says Hackett.

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