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Ford CEO is replaced on grounds Ford falling behind on autonomous (electric) vehicles

2972 Views 15 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Ladogaboy
Last Friday the Board of Ford Motors replaced Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford. The complaint seems to have been that Ford is falling behind on autonomous vehicles, which, because you need a lot of power for the autonomous electronics, also means electric vehicles. Fields was replaced by the previous head of autonomous vehicles, suggesting the putative reason for the dismissal was the actual reason.

Though very knowledgeable, Fields was out front in the effort to get the Trump Administration to roll back the CAFE standards, and he was not exactly a supporter of electric vehicles. So really not terribly forward thinking. (I simply don't understand why the car companies are so hot to alienate their future customers by blocking climate change mitigation measures. Seems insane.)

For electric vehicles this is probably a big win since not only will Ford be more focused on electrics, that focus and the shakeup at Ford may send a message to other companies.
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Their stock got beat by Tesla, nothing more...

The funny thing is they still have the best selling model, the F150, are making it into a Hybrid along with Mustang and the first legacy automaker to release an OTA update...They also said they're making a 300 mile SUV EV...All and all, not a terrible pipeline...
 

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Yet they have promised this by 2020. Who know what will be out by then. GM with the Bolt EV already has a dedicated electric vehicle architecture that will be mid-cycle and likely fully amortised by 2020 and possibly under pinning several vehicles.

Basically it sounds like Ford is a full half design cycle behind GM. That that is a sizeable deficit.
But as we're seeing with US sales, there just isn't a lot of demand for the Bolt EV...Because there isn't a true definition of a CUV/crossover, GM can call the Bolt EV one, but its a small wagon, subcompact...That segment, despite often being often very affordable, just doesn't sell well...What does sell well are SUVs which the EPA has a segment for...In Jan Ford announced they were making a 300 mile range SUV, aka the top segment so if it was an affordable actual SUV, it could be the top selling non-Tesla-M3 EV...But today Ford scaled back their original SUV and said “We think we have a technology path that will get us a 300 plus miles range and an affordable crossover utility that will be fully competitive"...So some really bad news there, so an intentionally omission of "SUV" and the addition of "crossover", just tells me they have no idea what they're doing...Add to that there's no mention we already have something in development and "THINK" they found the path? Again just not good...Maybe GM will have a Trax based EV out by then...

I believe Ford has the highest PE ratio of any major car company. Higher than the industry average. Ford is also making money in Europe. So no, I don't think it was the stock price per se. More a lack of a story and lack of a vision.

I don't think Ford went into small cars in a big way. Certainly no more than GM. Assuming they did it would be a good strategy. Ford is way to dependent on truck sales. Diversification would be a good idea. FWIW I believe Ford is recording record profits. It's not as if their revenue or profits were off.

Where Ford hasn't been active is autonomy and electrification (and those are pretty much the same thing) as well as mobility services. GM has invested in Lyft, has the Volt and the Bolt EV, and with the acquisition of Cruise Automation, a healthy autonomy program. Not to mention Maven and now Maven Gig. I don't think it's a coincidence that on the same day Ford elevated the head of the autonomy project to the CEO position it announced plans for a 300 mile range electric SUV and a fully autonomous version of the vehicle.
I don't think you have to drag Tesla into it. Here's a big part of the reason:



Jalopnik posted a thorough article on the many reasons Fields is out: http://jalopnik.com/why-mark-fields-was-fired-1795431562
Thanks for sharing, technically meant market value vs individual stock price in which Ford is like $11 and Tesla is $300...I also should have clarified I meant was the final nail in the coffin, because if Fords market value continued to climb and Tesla's didn't surpass Ford until the M3 ramp up I do not think he would have been fired...Unless a person with insider wants to talk, we'll never know if Tesla surpassing Ford, will have anything to do with the firing...
 

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In the Jalopnik article, there was no mention of Tesla relative to Ford that I recall. Fields was compared with Mary Barra and her looking into the future. I have to think that the market cap has much to do with investors' feelings about Fields' direction with the company.

Personally, I found fields to be quite full of himself. Normally I'd overlook it if he was doing the job, but it looks like he wasn't.
No doubt that he just wasn't doing the job and that Mary Barra is his counter part as they both sell very affordable vehicles...Even the article states a variety of reasons, mentioning trump and not making decisions fast enough...The interesting thing about autonomous, Ford already released their Gen2 version: https://medium.com/@ford/building-f...nomous-development-vehicle-82a6160a7965...Now how well does it work? Who knows, we also see that is getting smaller and therefore more production ready...The other wildcard are costs, if GM's huge roof array is $100K in hardware alone, it'll be a commercial only thing which isn't a bad thing...
 
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