DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is organizing its exploration of mobility services into a formal subsidiary and putting board member Jim Hackett in charge of the new company, called Ford Smart Mobility LLC.
Hackett, a former CEO of furniture maker Steelcase who’s in his final days as the University of Michigan’s interim athletic director, resigned from the Ford board effective Thursday to lead the subsidiary, the automaker said in a statement today. Hackett, a board member since 2013, will report directly to Ford CEO Mark Fields, leading “a team of business and technology leaders from inside and outside the company,” Ford said.
“Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities,” Fields said in the statement. “Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue. Jim Hackett is the right visionary leader -- with extensive experience in business development and design -- to take us into the mobility services business in the future.”
Ford did not immediately name a replacement for Hackett on the board. A spokesman said Hackett would be charged with appointing a CEO and filling other management positions for the subsidiary, with those announcements to come later.
Hackett, 60, retired from Steelcase in 2014 after 20 years as its CEO. He has been running Michigan’s athletic department since October 2014 and recently announced a permanent replacement to take over for him on Monday, March 14.
Ford’s statement described Hackett as a “consumer-focused, visionary leader,” saying he transformed the company “from a traditional office furniture manufacturer to a company that would change the way people work.” That’s the kind of revolution Fields has said he wants Ford to undergo.
“I am absolutely thrilled to lead Ford’s mobility business into the future,” Hackett said in the statement. “Transportation in the world today is on the cusp of a major revolution, and Ford plans to lead the way by changing the way the world moves through Ford Smart Mobility.”
Fields announced the company’s Smart Mobility initiative in early 2015 as the signature piece of his plans as CEO. Since then, Ford has conducted numerous experiments into how people get around and begun several pilot programs, including an Uber-like shuttle service for employees, a car-sharing program and an on-demand public bus service.
Ford Smart Mobility LLC will create “commercially ready mobility services” and invest in outside ventures, Ford said. It plans to develop services internally as well as by collaborating with startups and established tech companies.
“Ensuring the freedom of mobility requires us to continually look beyond the needs of today and interpret what mobility will mean to future generations,” Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, said in the statement. “This new subsidiary will enable us to develop mobility solutions to address the rapidly changing transportation challenges of an increasingly crowded world.”
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