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May 22, 2017

Ford Motors CEO sacked and replaced by autonomous driving head

Will the new Ford CEO gain the company ground in the autonomous driving space?

By Tom Ball

The CEO of Ford Motors, Mark Fields, is to be replaced by the head of its autonomous driving subsidiary, perhaps indicating a shift in focus for the automotive giant.

Entering the role of CEO will be Jim Hackett, who until now has been the chairman of Ford Smart Mobility. Mark Fields has overseen the company while experiencing a 40 percent fall in in the Ford Motors stock price, and he subsequently came under fire for this during the annual shareholder meeting.

It cannot be ignored that excitement surrounding autonomous driving has been mounting constantly, making this executive reshuffle seem like it could represent the foresight of Ford Motors into the future direction of the industry.

Mark Fields was sacked despite significant investment in autonomous driving technology development, as well as hiring 4000 employees from BlackBerry  to bolster and accelerate connected-car and autonomy projects.

Ford has a great deal of competition in the autonomous driving space, with the likes of giants Tesla and Google looming large. Placing the autonomous driving head as the new CEO may be a bid to sharpen up the company’s approach to this developing market.

READ MORE: Ford hires BlackBerry engineers in connected-car push

The reality of autonomous driving is ever increasing, with the UK government even providing funding of £38 million for autonomous vehicle projects in recent months.

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Perhaps Ford’s main contender, Tesla, gained the support of a $1bn cash injection from Wall Street so as to keep the company on track to hit its upcoming targets. Tesla along with Waymo and Google overtook the Ford market cap last month; this could have been another influential factor behind the change of CEO.

Intel is also flexing its muscles in the space with a new Advanced Vehicle Lab, and the display of a planned automated vehicle set to be one of forty within a partnership with BMW and Mobileye.

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