Opinion

“Ford is now a truck maker first, car maker second”

Jimmy Hackett, CEO of Ford, has made Ford’s worst move in decades, says Mike Rutherford

Ford - opinion

Donald J Trump isn’t the only old, American dude provocatively rocking the global boat. There’s another: Jimmy P Hackett. He spent years in detergent (Proctor & Gamble) before doing decades in office furniture (Steelcase Inc) where one of his best-known and most controversial claims to fame was his closure of US factories – before opening replacement plants in Mexico!

Around 12,000 Steelcase jobs in America were cut as the Hackett Man morphed into Jimmy The Hatchet. Nothing personal, just business. After almost half a century working in washing powder and filing cabinets, Jimmy’s now 60-something and approaching the end of a long and lucrative career.

Best selling cars in the UK 2018

But before doing so, he’s having a last-minute dabble in another sector. Despite being a comparative novice in the car game, he has in his old age decided to enter and learn from scratch. In effect he’s started and is still serving his automotive ‘apprenticeship’ at Ford. The newcomer’s job title? No big deal – he’s only the President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company!

Annual compensation for the novice? Around $16million (£11.8m or so). The Hackett saga took yet another bonkers turn at the end of last month, when he was still less than a year into his role as Ford President/CEO. He decreed that in North America at least, Ford’s future will be in trucks and commercial vehicles, and that cars are to be sidelined.

He threatened to “reshape” the company by “feeding the healthy part of our business and dealing decisively with the parts that destroy value”. Wow. In Jimmy’s head, trucks equate to healthiness and cars are the destroyers of Ford balance sheets. This is Ford’s worst move in decades.

If the company concentrated harder on ensuring its saloons and hatchbacks are as good and satisfying to own as most Jaguars, Audis, SEATs, Skodas, Kias, Peugeots and Toyotas (currently, with the exception of the Fiesta, it doesn’t), its cars can and will sell. Except they won’t because Jimmy’s killing ’em off.

A respected Detroit-based auto industry publication succinctly summarised the sorry scenario by stating: “Ford says cars lose money, so they’re gone.” I invited my trusted senior Ford contacts in Britain and overseas to correct that haunting “Ford cars are gone” message now being barked loudly from America.

They chose not to. Neither did they deny my claim that Ford is now a truck maker first, car maker second. More encouraging news from them is that Jimmy’s car-culling antics are specific to North America only, they say. The official word is that “here in the UK (and mainland Europe) we will continue with our broad range of car offerings”. For the time being at least.

Enjoyed this opnion piece? Then take a read of Mike's previous column talking about how the motoring industry needs a calm, convincing leadership.

Recommended

Ford confirms two new flexible electric car architectures
Ford electric platform
Ford

Ford confirms two new flexible electric car architectures

New electric platforms to underpin a variety of Ford vehicles
27 May 2021
Ford investigates displaying adverts on car infotainment screens
Ford advert patent
Ford

Ford investigates displaying adverts on car infotainment screens

Information from roadside advertisements would be beamed to a car’s infotainment screen under Ford’s patent application
18 May 2021
Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer
Ford Escort XR3
Ford

Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer

Hot hatches democratised performance, and one of the pioneers, the Ford Escort XR3, is now over 40 years old
5 May 2021
Ford Fiesta plant to build new 'mini Mustang Mach-e' electric car from 2023
Ford baby EV - front (watermarked)
Ford

Ford Fiesta plant to build new 'mini Mustang Mach-e' electric car from 2023

New all-electric Ford 'mini Mustang Mach-e' will be built on the VW Group’s MEB platform at the Fiesta’s home in Cologne
17 Feb 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector
SsangYong J100 electric SUV
SsangYong

SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector

The tough looking electric mid-size SUV is slated for production next year and will be joined by a pick-up model
15 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021