Skip advert
Advertisement
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!

Advertisement - Article continues below

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.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

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.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Best new cars coming in 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024 - header image
Best cars & vans

Best new cars coming in 2024

There are some big new models from the likes of BMW, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, MINI, Skoda and more on the way in 2024
12 Mar 2024
How Ford and Vauxhall became national treasures
Assortment of Fords and Vauxhalls
Features

How Ford and Vauxhall became national treasures

We take a look at the rivalry of two manufacturers that have battled for the hearts, minds and money of British car buyers
27 Dec 2023
'Once-dominant Ford and Vauxhall could become also-rans in the future'
Opinion - Ford plant
Opinion

'Once-dominant Ford and Vauxhall could become also-rans in the future'

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks Ford and Vauxhall need to get their pricing right in the EV era if they are to remain popular with customers
15 Nov 2023
New Ford Capri spied testing for the first time
Electric Ford Capri - front
News

New Ford Capri spied testing for the first time

Iconic Ford nameplate will return on MEB-based crossover
9 Nov 2023

Most Popular

‘Dacia Zen’ seven-year warranty brings added peace of mind
Dacia Duster - tailgate
News

‘Dacia Zen’ seven-year warranty brings added peace of mind

The value brand’s new warranty is also available on used cars, as well as for existing Dacia customers
16 Apr 2024
Car Deal of the Day: Mercedes EQC offers luxury EV motoring for £327 a month
Mercedes EQC - front cornering
News

Car Deal of the Day: Mercedes EQC offers luxury EV motoring for £327 a month

Mercedes’s EQC showed that the German firm was serious about electric cars and it’s our Car Deal of the Day for Monday 15 April
15 Apr 2024
New Nissan Qashqai gets angry, as best-selling family SUV receives aggressive facelift
Nissan Qashqai reveal - front
News

New Nissan Qashqai gets angry, as best-selling family SUV receives aggressive facelift

In addition to its new much sharper design, the Qashqai now features Google apps and voice assistant built in
17 Apr 2024