Ford's stock has hovered in the single digits for months and took a hit last week after the company announced a fourth-quarter loss. Hackett said the changes had nothing to do with Ford's difficulties launching the Explorer crossover but that Ford needs to improve its operational execution.
"It's unfortunate that Joe is the one that's taking the fall, but I'm really excited for Jim Farley and the creativity and vision that he brings," Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive Group in Columbus, Ohio, told Automotive News.
"He truly is a design guy and a future, forward-thinking innovator that I think is the right guy that's going to take operations to the next level at Ford."
Others were more frustrated.
Steve Kalafer, CEO of Flemington Car & Truck Country in New Jersey, said the company "appears to have lost its way."
Today's Ford is "reminiscent of the Jack Nassar era," he said. Ford and the other Detroit 3 automakers "feel so threatened that they might miss out on something that they don't know what they are diving into. Billions have been wasted."
Still, Kalafer was in favor of Hackett taking the helm in 2017.
Ford "needed to make sure we were bridging a direction from the old world to the new world," Kalafer said. "We haven't done very well in the new world."