Ford President of Automotive Hinrichs Set to Retire March 1, Farley Named COO

Ford Motor Co. today announced that its president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, will retire effective March 1 and that Jim Farley, who leads Ford’s new businesses, technology and strategy team, will become COO and report to President and CEO Jim Hackett.
Joe Hinrichs
Joe Hinrichs, president of automotive at Ford, is retiring effective March 1. // Photograph by Matthew LaVere

Ford Motor Co. today announced that its president of automotive, Joe Hinrichs, will retire effective March 1 and that Jim Farley, who leads Ford’s new businesses, technology and strategy team, will become COO and report to President and CEO Jim Hackett.

Hinrichs retires after a 19-year career with the Dearborn-based automaker.

“I thank Joe for his tremendous leadership over the past two decades,” says Hackett. “Joe was instrumental to Ford’s ability to survive the Great Recession a decade ago without bankruptcy or taxpayer bailout, and successfully headed Ford’s operations in Asia Pacific and North America.

“Most recently, Joe oversaw our global portfolio of iconic vehicles, helped forge a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with the UAW and was regularly sought out as an authority and promoter of smart global trade.”

The changes come as Ford is moving to accelerate its transformation into a higher-growth, higher-margin business by leveraging smart, connected vehicles and services. Since 2017, Ford says it has made progress in transforming the company in the face of sweeping technological change and disruption in the auto industry while working to improve the fitness of its base business – restructuring operations, updating the product portfolio and reducing bureaucracy.

Farley joined Ford in 2007 as global head of marketing and sales and went on to lead Lincoln, Ford South America, Ford of Europe, and all Ford global markets in successive roles. Since April, Farley has led the company’s new businesses, technology and strategy team, helping the automaker determine how to capitalize on the forces reshaping the industry – such as software platforms, connectivity, AI, automation, and new forms of propulsion.

“Jim Farley is the right person to take on this important new role,” says Hackett. “Jim’s passion for great vehicles and his intense drive for results are well known. He also has developed into a transformational leader with the imagination and foresight to help lead Ford into the future.”

Farley now will lead Ford’s drive to strengthen its automotive operations and deliver a sustainable global EBIT margin of at least 8 percent. He will oversee all of Ford’s global markets and automotive operations, including product development; purchasing; enterprise product line management; manufacturing and labor affairs; marketing, sales and service; and quality and new model launch.

He also will retain leadership of Ford Smart Mobility, Ford’s AV LLC, and Ford’s partnership with Argo AI.

“I’m thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to work with Jim Hackett and the entire Ford team to advance our vision to design increasingly intelligent vehicles and connect them to the world around us, all to make life better for our customers and communities,” Farley says. “Ford is blessed with great people and an incredible brand, and together we will build a very bright future.”

In addition, Ford announced that Hau Thai-Tang, chief product development and purchasing officer, will take on an expanded role, reporting to Farley. Thai-Tang will continue to lead product development and purchasing, while adding responsibility for enterprise product line management and connectivity.

“Hau will be the primary architect as we bring together the vehicle architecture and software stack to create products, services and experiences our customers will love,” Hackett says. “We are moving forward with an integrated approach to vehicles and connected services, all anchored in an obsession for the customer, great design and a commitment to strong returns.”

Earlier, Ford reported 2019 revenue of $155.9 billion, down 3 percent from 2018 figures. It’s adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) was $6.4 billion for the year.

The company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $1.7 billion, or negative 42 cents per share, which includes a previously disclosed $2.2 billion pension and OPEB remeasurement loss. EBIT were $485 million, down 67 percent, with improved results in China and Europe more than offset by a decline in North America. Revenue was $39.7 billion, down 5 percent.

Ford’s Automotive EBIT for the quarter was $215 million, 81 percent lower. Gains in net pricing and product mix, particularly in North America, were more than offset by lower launch-related volumes; higher costs for new products; unfavorable currency exchange; and UAW contract- related costs.

“Financially, the company’s 2019 performance was short of our original expectations, mostly because our operational execution – which we usually do very well – wasn’t nearly good enough,” says Hackett. “We recognize, take accountability for, and have made changes because of this.

“We made great strategic progress this past year with a fundamental redesign of Ford that is setting us up to compete and win in this emerging era of smart vehicles for a smart world – with great products, services, and long-term value.”