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Jim Farley will take over as Ford CEO on Oct. 1. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Ford Motor Co.'s new CEO, Jim Farley, is taking the reins from his predecessor, James Hackett, at a critical time.

Why it matters: The global auto industry is shifting quickly toward electrification, automation and transportation services, but Ford has been unable to keep pace. Hackett's $11 billion global transformation, launched in 2017, was slow to materialize, frustrating investors as Ford's stock dropped almost 40% during his tenure.

  • It's up to Farley, a former Toyota executive who joined Ford 13 years ago, to accelerate the restructuring while focusing on growth opportunities like software and fleet management services.
  • “We know our competition today is Amazon, Baidu, Tesla, Apple, Toyota, and others. They’re well-financed and voracious companies," Jim Farley, incoming Ford CEO, told reporters Tuesday.

Farley described four goals during a call with reporters and said he'll provide more details soon:

  • To grow and expand its strengths, especially battery-powered commercial vehicles like vans.
  • To make software and infrastructure just as important as its products.
  • To expand its lineup of affordable vehicles and services.
  • To lower the cost of moving people and goods through automated vehicle technology.

Farley said the company must “swing for the fences” to fulfill its mission, including a return to 10% profit margins in North America.

  • Yes, but: Doing so will be difficult in the face of the economic collapse triggered by the pandemic, which shuttered Ford plants for two months and saddled the company with debt.

For the record: While Hackett was often misunderstood because of his Socratic leadership style, the former Steelcase CEO and University of Michigan athletic director succeeded in setting the automaker on the right course, said Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr.

  • Hackett made the controversial decision to stop building unprofitable sedans, negotiated an important partnership with Volkswagen and pushed Ford into new mobility initiatives.
"He still doesn’t get enough credit for taking on the tough issues, and slaying the sacred cows of our business. He cared more about the company's reputation than his own."
— Bill Ford Jr.

What to watch: “Nothing makes me happier than having a smooth transition,” Bill Ford said. "And now we have it."

  • Farley takes over on Oct. 1 and Hackett will remain a strategic advisor to the company until March 2021.

This story has been updated with new details.

Go deeper

Aug 14, 2020 - Economy & Business

Michigan plans 40-mile corridor for autonomous vehicles

Source: Cavnue

Michigan plans to develop a 40-mile stretch of highway dedicated to connected and autonomous vehicles between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Why it matters: The corridor would be the first in the nation, improving transit access for people who live and work along the route.

US cites Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoyskyy for involvement "in significant corruption"

State Secretary Antony Blinken on Friday designated former Ukrainian public official Ihor Kolomoyskyy as an individual involved "in significant corruption."

Why it matters: The designation prohibits Kolomoysky and his immediate family from traveling to the U.S. and signals that the Biden administration will help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his fight against oligarchs and entrenched corruption. U.S. authorities view Kolomoyskyy as among the most powerful of the oligarchs.

U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The economy added 379,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3% to 6.2%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Why it matters: The first Biden-era jobs report shows hiring surged as coronavirus cases eased — though a full recovery remains far off. Economists expected the economy to add roughly 182,000 jobs last month, after adding a paltry 49,000 in January.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.