AN WORLD CONGRESS: Ford to build more new SUVs, less cars

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DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Jim Hackett was the keynote speaker on Tuesday evening at the 2018 Automotive News World Congress. He talked about the automaker’s “fitness” and promised that more SUVs are coming in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Hackett said a few car models would have to shed to do so.

Earlier in the day, Hackett spoke to investors at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit. The Ford CEO said he would increase Ford’s SUV mix by 10 points and shrink it’s car mix by 10 points. No one knows which car models would get the boot just yet — except for maybe Hackett himself.

“This is a company in a resilient way when the industry was bankrupt,” he explained. “These folks picked themselves up by their bootstraps. Alan made the company better with Bill. What we’ve got to do is start with fitness and go into this winning aspiration. When the [Mustang Bullitt] came out they gave us a standing ovation.”

Hackett said he went to his son’s wedding in Los Angeles last October and that’s when he figured out what he needs to do at Ford.

“We’ve got 7 work streams that we confirmed,” the Ford CEO said. “There’s lots of suppliers that know how Ford wastes money. Dealers know how hard it is to get an order on our system and get it done. We announced that next year is a flat year. I see the other side of that bad year. I don’t agree with behind.”

The auto industry talked about how the iPhone would find its way in the car. There’s an Apple car. New technology either disrupts the market or it adapts. There’s a million lines of code in our vehicles. It’s 15 year old ideas.

On Ford’s fitness: “I have to compete with Apple in a warehouse where they can’t tell me what they’re working on. There’s no riddle what people want. We have 41 years leading the F-150. The highest distance between no 1 and no 2. Aluminum is working.”

At the 2018 North American International Auto Show on Sunday, Ford announced an $11 billion investment for vehicle electrification. That includes 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup by 2022. Hackett described his plan as “Now, Near, Far.”

“My friends that run electric companies are working on carbon footprint problem. It’s premature to say battery electric is the winner. Hybrid is not at all out of the game. You have to think of time dimensions in parallel. The cost of the battery is going thru improvement. The most fit solution will win. You don’t get the cost back.”

Hackett says Ford has two businesses: made-to-order and made-to-stock. Hackett admitted that Ford’s made-to-order delivery time is slow–at around 81 days. That is something his team is working to speed up.

“I had 20 years to get Steelcase right I don’t have that here,” he explained. “I got to work in two family businesses but they’re public. I love what I’m doing. I’m excited about what we can do in this business. Suppliers and dealers don’t worry–you have a huge role in that future. I talk to Bill Ford 10 times a day. He is a treasure. I’m having so much fun because of that partnership.”

What is the future of the North American International Auto Show?

“The auto show as we know it is going to alter and mutate. It’s not enough because Apple isn’t going to bring the car into the Detroit auto show.”

Hackett was asked about Ford’s slogan under his leadership. He replied: “Smart vehicles for a smart world.”

The 2017 IHS Markit Model Year Loyalty Awards were also presented on Tuesday at the Automotive News World Congress. Here are the manufacturer and make loyalty winners:

  • Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer: General Motors
  • Overall Loyalty to Make: Ford
  • Highest Conquest Percentage: Jeep
  • Ethnic Market Loyalty to Make: Toyota
  • Overall Loyalty to Dealer: Lincoln
  • Hispanic Market Loyalty to Make: Toyota
  • Asian Market Loyalty to Make: Toyota
  • African American Market Loyalty to Make: Toyota
  • Most Improved Loyalty to Make: Buick
  • Most Improved Conquest Percentage: Jaguar

Stay with for continuing coverage of the 2018 Automotive News World Congress…


General Motors  President of North America Alan Batey accepts the 2017 IHS Loyalty award on behalf of GM for Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Automotive News Editor and Publisher Jason Stein introduces keynote speaker Jim Hackett. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Ford CEO Jim Hackett speaking with Jason Stein during the 2018 Automotive News World Congress. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Hackett said Ford is working to build more SUVs and cut down its number of cars in its line-up. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


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