Tags: Ford | Fall | Guy

Ford Found Its Fall Guy

Ford Found Its Fall Guy
(AP/Alan Diaz)

Lauren Fix By Sunday, 28 May 2017 09:45 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In a bit of an industry shocker, Ford fired its CEO, Mark Fields, earlier this week: Fields was only on the job for less than three years after former CEO Alan Mulally retired.

Unfortunately for Fields, Mulally left gigantic shoes to fill. The company became hugely profitable under Mulally and many new models were introduced during his tenure that were adored by both the public and the media.

What's also unfortunate for Fields is the fact that Ford has decided to become more of a mobility company versus a traditional car company and the results are mixed at best. Let me explain: Under Mulally, Ford made really good cars and trucks, period. The Mustang, Fusion, F-150, Focus and even the Fiesta were and still are great vehicles. Sure, there were hybrid and electric variants of some of these cars but they were never Ford's focus (no pun intended).

Now, however, Ford has decided it wants to run more like a Silicon Valley company a la Tesla. They want to be EV and alternative fuel vehicle pioneers and they want to be at the forefront of the latest autonomous/connected vehicle technology. While this is an admirable goal that I'm sure many appreciate, the recent Ford sales numbers don't agree.

Ford's sales were down 7.2 percent last month and their stock fell to a 21-month low. Ouch! But is all of this Fields' fault? Overall, vehicle sales were down 21 percent across the board for April 2017. So Ford’s decline wasn't actually that bad by comparison but it was still more than anticipated by Wall St.

So, if you consider that the automotive boom of the past several years may be settling down, and combine with the fact that Ford may be focusing a bit too much on tech versus building cars people love, you have a recipe for sales disaster. So let's all blame the CEO and make him the fall guy. I'm sure Ford's board had nothing to with any of the company's recent decisions.

It all comes down to this: If you build it, they will come. In other words, if Ford builds cars people love, people will buy them. I've always said that until EVs can go 400 miles and charge in the same amount of time it takes to refill at the pump, they'll never go mainstream. Furthermore, the majority of car buyers don't need or even want the latest gadgetry in their cars. An honest-to-goodness reliable car or truck that looks good and is pleasant to drive will do just fine and that's what Ford has always been about.

Post your comments on Twitter @LaurenFix

Final Thought:

Here’s a bit of a counterpoint: Ford’s board of directors ousted CEO Mark Fields for a multitude of reasons, but I’m not hearing talk about the reverence package, nearly $58 million. The largest portion of the ex-CEO’s payout is in unvested stock awards, valued at $29.4 million as of Wednesday’s close, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Those will vest through 2020, with the majority tied to performance goals. Fields also is entitled to about $17.5 million in retirement benefits, plus stock options worth $8.1 million and an estimated prorated incentive bonus of about $2.1 million.

And he gets to keeps his rare performance Ford vehicles including his Ford GT.

I suppose I don't feel too bad for the guy!

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach® is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. Post your comments on Twitter: @LaurenFix or on her Facebook Page.

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In a bit of an industry shocker, Ford fired its CEO, Mark Fields, earlier this week: Fields was only on the job for less than three years after former CEO Alan Mulally retired.
Ford, Fall, Guy
Sunday, 28 May 2017 09:45 PM
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