Ford Shuffles Management Seeks New Head of Global Supply Chain

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

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

The changes come at a time of profound change for Ford and the auto industry, which for more than a century has lived on the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles. The company expects half of its global production to be electric vehicles by 2030, but like its major competitors, Ford will need to continue selling gasoline-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 handle internal combustion cars, trucks and SUVs.

Early Thursday, Ford announced that Chief Financial Officer John Lawler would overhaul its supply chain operations until the company finds a new chief supply chain officer.

Doug Field, who was hired from Apple Inc., will now become director of advanced product development and technology. He will lead vehicle design and hardware engineering, and continue to oversee electric vehicles, digital software and systems, and driver assistance systems.

Former chief operating officer Lisa Drake, now vice president of electric vehicle industrialization, takes charge of manufacturing engineering as Ford plans to produce electric vehicles at a rate of 2 million a year from by the end of 2026.

The company also announced two new hires 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 approach and mix of talent from Ford’s accomplished team,” Farley said in a statement.

Ford previously announced that Hau Thai-Tang, a former product development and purchasing manager, would retire on Oct. 1 after more than 34 years with the company. He announced Thursday that Dave Filipe, vice president of automotive equipment, would retire.

Sam Abuelsamid, principal electric mobility analyst at Guidehouse Research, said Farley is changing the people Ford hires by joining other automakers in developing new vehicles that can be tweaked over time with software updates. “Customers love when new features are added over the life of a car,” he said. “The industry loves it because it sees potential for new revenue streams.”

But that change requires a different mindset than people used to developing vehicles that go unmodified for years until the next version is released, he said.

Ford, he said, will likely experience instability for some time as big changes take place. “They need to hire a lot of people with different skill sets,” he said.

On Monday, Ford revealed that a parts shortage will keep many of its most profitable vehicles on batches waiting to be fully assembled. The issue forced the automaker to cut its third-quarter profit forecast. The company has also been hampered by problems launching new vehicle manufacturing and high warranty claims.

Last month, the company laid off 3,000 white-collar workers to cut costs and ease the long transition from internal combustion vehicles to those powered by batteries.

Governments around the world are pushing to phase out combustion automobiles to mitigate the impact of climate change. Companies like Ford are orchestrating the liquidation of their combustion businesses over several years, even though they are still generating cash to fund the development of electric vehicles.

Ford shares fell 1% on Thursday as broader markets tumbled. Shares are down about 38% for the year.

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