Ford shakes up management, seeks new head of global supply chain

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DETROIT (UKTN) — Ford is restructuring its vehicle development and supply chain operations, shaking several executives just days after it was announced it would build up to 45,000 vehicles with missing parts due to shortages.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker gave some executives new roles and said its chief financial officer will begin reworking its supply chain operations until a new global purchasing chief is hired.

The changes come at a time of profound change for Ford and the auto industry, which has been making a living selling petroleum-powered vehicles for more than a century. The company plans to get half of its global production from electric vehicles by 2030, but like its main competitors, Ford will need to continue selling gas-powered vehicles to fund the massive transition.

Earlier this year, CEO Jim Farley split the company into two units, Ford Model e to develop electric vehicles and Ford Blue to carry combustion-engined cars, trucks and SUVs.

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Early Thursday, Ford announced that CFO John Lawler would be making a makeover of its supply chain operations until the company finds a new supply chain chief.

Doug Field, who was hired by Apple Inc., now becomes Chief Advanced Product Development and Technology Officer. He will lead vehicle design and hardware engineering, and will oversee electric vehicles, software and digital systems, and driver assistance systems.

Former Chief Operating Officer Lisa Drake, now Vice President of EV Industrialization, will take on production engineering as Ford plans to produce EVs at a rate of 2 million per year by the end of 2026.

The company also announced two new employees from Hewlett-Packard and Google to develop vehicle software and driver assistance systems.

“Developing and scaling the next generation of electric and software-defined vehicles requires a different focus and mix of talent from the veteran Ford team,” Farley said in a statement.

Ford previously announced that Hau Thai-Tang, former head of product development and procurement, will retire on October 1 after more than 34 years with the company. It announced Thursday that Dave Filipe, vice president of vehicle hardware, is retiring.

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Guidehouse Research Principal E-Mobility Analyst Sam Abuelsamid said Farley is changing the people Ford hires as it works with other automakers to develop new vehicles that can be changed over time with software updates. “Customers like to have new features added over the life of a car,” he said. “The industry likes it because they see potential for new revenue streams.”

But that change requires a different mindset than people used to developing vehicles that haven’t changed for years until the next version comes out, he said.

Ford, he said, will likely experience instability for a while if major changes take place. “They have to hire a lot of people with different skills,” he said.

On Monday, Ford revealed that a parts shortage would leave many of its most profitable vehicles on lots waiting to be fully assembled. The issue forced the automaker to lower its third-quarter earnings forecast. The company was also hampered by new vehicle production problems and high warranty claims.

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Ford also said on Monday that inflation-related third-quarter supplier costs were about $1 billion higher than it had planned.

Last month, the company laid off 3,000 white-collar workers to cut costs and help make the long transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to battery powered vehicles.

Governments around the world are pushing for the elimination of combustion engine cars to mitigate the impact of climate change. Companies like Ford are orchestrating phasing out their combustion operations over several years, even though they still generate the money to fund electric vehicle development.

Shares of Ford fell just under 1% on Thursday as broader markets fell. Shares are down about 38% this year

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