Ford CEO Jim Hackett is retiring in October, the company announced Tuesday. The automaker’s chief operating officer, Jim Farley, will take over as president and CEO.
Hackett had been Ford (F) CEO since May 2017, a time when the auto industry has gone through an immense period of change.
That change started under Hackett, who joined the company after a long career at Grand Rapids, Michigan-based office furniture firm Steelcase (SCS) and a brief tenure as interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan.
“My goal when I took on the CEO role was to prepare Ford to win in the future,” Hackett said in a statement. “The hardest thing for a proud, long-lived company to do is change to meet the challenges of the world it’s entering rather than the world it has known. I’m very proud of how far we have come in creating a modern Ford and I am very optimistic about the future.”
Farley is likely to push Ford for even more changes. Farley has been with the company since 2007, after a 17-year career at Toyota, and has overseen marketing and sales at Ford. He was chosen last year to lead Ford’s new businesses, technology and strategy team. Farley will also join the company’s board.
“I love Ford and I am honored by the opportunity to serve and create value for Ford’s employees, customers, dealers, communities and all of our stakeholders,” Farley said in the release. “I am so excited to work together with the whole Ford team to realize the full potential of this great company in a new era.”
Farley, who is a cousin of the late comedian Chris Farley, is also seen as more of a diehard car guy than Hackett. Farley even drove a Ford GT40 at a race in Le Mans, France. (Cue the Ford v Ferrari references.)
The company said that Hackett will stay with Ford as a special advisor until March 2021 to help assist with the transition process.
Farley was just promoted to the COO spot in February, following the surprise retirement of Joe Hinrichs, a 19-year Ford veteran who previously worked at GM.
Ford, like the rest of the auto industry, has been struggling this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the global economy. Shares of Ford have fallen 26% so far in 2020. The stock rose more than 2% Tuesday though, following the news of the leadership transition.
Ford, the only major US automaker to avoid bankruptcy after the 2008 recession, has run into financial crisis more recently though.
Analysts are worried about its debt load and Standard & Poor’s cut Ford’s credit rating to junk status earlier this year. There are also concerns about the botched re-launch of Ford’s popular Explorer SUV.
But the company has posted some progress on the tech front.
Despite a huge drop in sales for the second quarter, Ford reported a $1.1 billion profit last week – thanks in large part due to a gain from Volkswagen’s investment in the two companies’ self-driving vehicle program, Argo AI.
Ford and VW are co-owners in Argo AI, which is planning to launch its self-driving technology in 2022.
Ford has been playing catch up in the electric car market, but it announced plans last year to launch an electric Mustang SUV.
That’s why the great-grandson of Henry Ford is confident that Farley can get Ford back on track.
“Jim Farley matches an innate feel for cars and customers with great instincts for the future and the new technologies that are changing our industry,” said Ford executive chairman Bill Ford, in Tuesday’s release.
CNN Business’ Michael Ballaban, Chris Isidore and Peter Valdes-Dapena contributed to this story.