Ford has named the head of its driverless cars division as its chief executive in a sudden regime change, as the company that pioneered the assembly line looks to the next stage of the industry’s evolution.
The Detroit-based carmaker said Mark Fields, who has run the company since July 2014, was retiring with immediate effect.
Fields will be replaced by Jim Hackett, who runs the smart mobility unit that houses Ford’s autonomous vehicle projects and is close to the executive chair, Bill Ford Jr.
Ford Jr, great-grandson of the company’s founder Henry, said Hackett was a “transformational leader” who would modernise the business by exploring areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing.
He and Hackett also emphasised the need to make decisions faster, with Ford Jr hinting at more centralised control.