CEO Hackett: “Just Trust Me” on Ford Overhaul

April 10, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett vows the company’s efforts to improve its performance will become evident this year.

“We’re turning the corner,” he declares before the Detroit Economic Club. “Just trust me on this.”

Hackett began Ford’s $11 billion restructuring nearly two years ago when he was brought in to replace CEO Mark Fields. Analysts and many investors have been impatient about the lack of obvious results since then. Meanwhile, Ford’s stock price has skidded 16% since Hackett’s arrival.

He insists the payoff has already begun, although he continues to offer no specifics. Ford is slimming its product portfolio, adjusting production capacity, restructuring operations in Europe, pursuing a global nonequity tie-up with Volkswagen and discussing a scheme that would turn over its operations in India to a joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra.

Analysts agree those steps make sense. And they concede that it will take time for them to produce the performance Hackett began forecasting in 2017.

Separately, Hackett is tempering expectations about Ford’s plan to commercialize a self-driving shuttle system by 2021. He says its autonomous shuttle will operate under “geo-fenced” conditions, in which the vehicles are restricted to operating within a previously mapped area and along consistent routes.