Ford top automotive executive retires in management shake-up

Business News

DETROIT (AP) – Ford is shaking up its management after a poor fourth-quarter financial performance and the botched launch of the Explorer SUV.

The company says that automotive President Joe Hinrichs will retire. Jim Farley, president of new business and strategy, will become chief operating officer in charge of global markets and automotive operations.

Ford has scheduled a conference call with reporters for later Friday morning to discuss the moves.

In addition, Product Development chief Hau Thai-Tang will take on an expanded role for products, services and customer experiences. He will stay in his product development post.

Ford’s full year profit plunged by more than $3.6 billion last year, and it lost $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter. Quarterly revenue fell 5% to $39.7 billion.

CEO Jim Hackett said on a conference call with analysts this week that the company fell short of expectations for the year, and he blamed the drop primarily on the flubbed launch of the new Ford Explorer SUV at its factory in Chicago.

New Explorers came off the assembly line with multiple problems and had to be shipped to a Detroit-area factory for repairs, delaying deliveries to customers.

Hackett also referred to higher warranty costs during the year, especially for a flawed six-speed automatic transmission in the Ford Focus compact car.

Hinrichs was in charge of automotive during the Explorer launch and was a key executive when the Focus transmission was rolled out.

Shares of Ford were down slightly to $8.24 in premarket trading Friday.

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