President and CEO,
Ford Motor Co.
What he’s known for
During his 33 years at
an almost-20-year tenure as CEO—Hackett
streamlined and modernized the company.
When he became CEO
in 1994, he inherited a
company that had just
reported a $70 million loss. He did it by
acquired the pioneering
Ideo agency—and tech.
He also explored new
business models such
as designing furniture
for the healthcare industry. He took Steelcase
public and grew revenues to almost
$3 billion annually as
well as profitability.
In November, Hackett
closed a deal for a joint
venture with the Chinese automaker Anhui
Zotye to manufacture
and market all-electric
vehicles under a new
Chinese brand. Ford
added that it would also
use the joint venture
to explore mobility
services in the booming
company, because family owners have a long-arc vie w of who they want to be. Bill Ford, whose
great-grandfather started the company, told the
world that cars can’t continue to operate the
way they have been, because we’ll kill the world
if China just cuts and pastes what we do. I am
proud of working with a group of people who
stand for those kinds of things. We didn’t take
the [bailout] money, we care about the environment, we think mobility is a basic human right.
What about Tesla? Is its model the one that
automakers aspire to, even if they don’t
necessarily aspire to be that brand?
Who is that? [Laughs] If you’ve run a big com-
pany, enterprise computing is the underpin-
ning of how something gets built. If you’re Tesla
and you’re starting the company, you go and
seek somebody who has a made-for-enterprise
system: low cost, simple, and you’re going to
make one product. So there is a pure genius
running the company, but it isn’t the genius
that drove that; it’s the economics. It’s also the
waste at Ford that caused it to not evolve in
that regard. That’s something I want to fix: You
should have no advantage ordering your Tesla
versus ordering your Ford. Ford’s not stupid. It’s
not that they don’t get it. It’s the weight of that
[older] enterprise system. That’s the area where
disruption sneaks in, and I call it a thief in the
night. It steals your livelihood.
What Tesla proved to us is that the next gen
of propulsion, electrification—customers love
it. But there is not one company in the world, we
think, that makes pure profit on electrification.
Tesla doesn’t. The investors are happy, though,
because they see 500,000 orders for a new vehicle. That’s a confirmation of consumption.
We’re the number-two company in the industry in non-internal combustion engines. We
use hybrid and electrification. In October, we
went to Wall Street and said, “Look, propulsion
is a frame, the way a designer would think in
the future. It doesn’t mean that electrification’s
won the war for the next thousand years, right?
Hydrogen’s there, there are all kinds of things.”
Ford is committed to propulsion platforms that
are beyond gas, that have zero emissions, that
are kind to the planet. But our customers have
to come with us. Right now, electrification represents 5% of the total sales of vehicles. If you
wanted to put a car in your garage and charge it,
your electrician may have to come in and install
some kind of alternative capacity. These are
things that the disruption didn’t address well.
You can go to a gas station on every corner, the
the furniture maker
Steelcase for the
modern age and is
now trying to do
the same with Ford.