Mark Fields' tenure as Ford Motor CEO is coming to an end after just three years, during which the company's shares plunged 40%. The New York Times details various bumps in his road: recent safety recalls, the discarded plan to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, Q1 profit down 30%-plus year-over-year, less progress on the self-driving vehicle front than its competitors, and the fact that it's apparently "making little, if any, money on the cars it does sell." Fields has been with the company for 28 years, and will be replaced by Jim Hackett, the former CEO of office furniture maker Steelcase and the current head of Ford's mobility unit. Forbes reports favorably on Hackett's 30 years at Steelcase, but shares his recent claim to fame: while serving as the University of Michigan's interim athletic director, he convinced former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to coach the school's football team.
The AP recalls that Fields' start in the position was a shiny one, with Fields kicking off Ford's shift from a traditional automaker into a "mobility" company, laying out plans to build autonomous vehicles and explore new services such as ride-hailing and car-sharing. Under Fields, Ford achieved a record pretax profit of $10.8 billion in 2015 after the company's new, aluminum-sided F-150 pickup went on sale. But there were rumblings that Fields wasn't focusing enough on Ford's core business, as popular products like the Fusion sedan grew dated. The editorial director of Kelley Blue Book suggests the challenge for Hackett will be great: "Despite turning in credible profits, Fields was unable to turn Ford into a stock market darling, and that may well prove elusive going forward."