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Ford underlines its self-driving car focus with appointment of Jim Hackett as CEO

http://www.thedrum.com/topics/robotics

Anyone still in any doubt about the seriousness of Ford’s impending self-driving car intent will have had their illusions shattered this morning when the company announced that Jim Hackett, former head of its smart mobility arm, is to be its new chief executive.

Hackett will fill the shoes of Mark Fields who is due for retirement as Ford seeks to position itself as a lead player in the sector from the top down amid criticism that it has been slower to position itself in the sector than rivals such as GM, not to mention new kids on the block such as Tesla, Google and Uber.

Hackett inherits a business currently languishing in the doldrums as a result, facing the onerous challenge of turning the tanker around, but as the man who helped inject new life into jaded office furniture maker Steelcase by focusing on open-plan offices he is perhaps best qualified to do so.

Welcoming the challenge Hackett said: “I am so excited to work with Bill Ford and the entire team to create an even more dynamic and vibrant Ford that improves people’s lives around the world, and creates value for all of our stakeholders. I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford’s people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period.”

Despite making his ambitions clear Ford still lacks a roadmap to get there with Hackett vague on what his first tasks will be beyond streamlining the decision-making process, by shattering its hierarchical management to allow more bottom-up thinking.

As well as bearing responsibility for operational changes Hackett will also oversee new product launches as well as hot topics such as AI, robotics and big data.

Ford recently burnished its mobility credentials with the opening of an interactive brand experience studio in New York.