Ford Motor Co. on Monday named James Hackett, the head of its driverless car division, as its new chief executive amid a wide-ranging reshuffle of the automaker’s top management.
He replaces Mark Fields, who was dismissed abruptly from the top job, as the company responded to investors’ growing unease about its slumping stock price and business prospects.
Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr., whose family effectively controls the No. 2 US automaker, said he wants Hackett to speed up decision-making and cut costs, Reuters reports.
“The clock speed at which our competitors are working …requires us to make decisions at a faster pace,” said Ford Jr., who plans to take a more active role at the company.
Ford, which announced plans to cut 1,400 white-collar positions last week, is expected to look at further significant cost cuts in the next three to six months, Reuters cited unidentified company officials as saying.
Hackett, 62, is known as a turnaround expert. He has for the past year has led the Ford unit developing self-driving cars and related projects.
He takes over from Fields, who has run the company since July 2014.
Fields’ abrupt dismissal caught nearly all at Ford by surprise, but concerns about the company’s direction have been brewing for some time.
Ford, once the most financially secure of the ‘Big Three’ Detroit automakers, reported record profit in 2015, but now finds itself under pressure on all sides as overall US auto sales fall.
Rival General Motors is aggressively targeting Ford’s share of the lucrative North American truck and sport utility business, the source of 90 percent of Ford’s profit, Reuters noted.
Meanwhile, investors see Ford as a laggard in the shift toward electric vehicles, self-driving technology and ride-sharing.
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