US carmaker Ford has dumped its top boss. Chief Executive Mark Fields will be replaced by James Hackett, the head of the unit developing its self-driving cars.
Fields, who is 56, is retiring after less than three years in the job and following a 28 year career at Ford.
The company said this was part of wider management changes to speed up decision-making and improve operations.
It comes in response to investors’ worries about Ford’s US and European sales and market share slipping while profits are trailing those of larger rival General Motors.
Ford’s board and Chairman Bill Ford Jr. have been unhappy with the company’s performance and sought reassurance that investments in self-driving cars, electric vehicles and ride services would pay off.
“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” Bill Ford said. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space.”
Ford’s share price was down by around 37 percent since Fields became CEO in 2014. The shares picked up when the management changes were announced rising around 1.7 percent in early trading on Monday.
Silicon Valley electric car maker Tesla Inc was valued at $51 billion on Friday, more than Ford’s $43 billion. The contrast shows investors’ faltering confidence that traditional automakers can make the transition to a future where software substitutes for pistons and transportation is sold by the mile or the minute through ridesharing.
At the same time, GM is turning up the pressure in the North American truck and sport utility business, the source of 90 percent of Ford’s profits.