Marketplace is a public service newsroom powered by you. Give Now
Ford and Jim Hackett’s big bet on an electric Mustang
Nov 18, 2019

Ford and Jim Hackett’s big bet on an electric Mustang

Will it be enough to overcome other challenges for the auto industry today, like tariffs, climate change and changing consumer preferences? Kai Ryssdal spoke with Hackett at the launch of the Mach-E Sunday night in Los Angeles to find out.

Ford Motor Co. officially announced its new Mustang Mach-E electric SUV Sunday night.

It’s the first evidence of a new strategy around electric vehicles that CEO Jim Hackett proposed when he was named leader of the company back in 2017.

“When I arrived I was trying to get the focal length a little further out and work back from that,” he said.

Hackett quickly announced he’d focus on making Ford leaner and concentrate on building the types of cars its customers wanted to buy, like the bestselling F-150 trucks. But he also boosted Ford’s investment in electrics and hybrids. The launch of the Mach-E, an all-electric Mustang SUV, brings together both of those strategies. An electric version of the F-150 is expected for 2021.

This is an important moment for Ford, not just because the Mustang is such an icon of the company, but because the company is coming off a hard 2018 that Hackett himself called “mediocre” in a note to staff.

“It was painful to admit, [but that’s] really important that you do that … when you’re not where you want to be,” he said. “I really believe that we’ve got great people at Ford Motor Co. So I wanted them to understand that we’ve got to know what great is.”

We spoke with Hackett at Ford’s flashy launch event for the Mach-E just outside Los Angeles, hosted by the actor Idris Elba. Hackett showed us around the car, talked about his vision for the company and the challenges its faced amid the trade war with China. We also asked Hackett what he drives, and what happens if this big bet on electric doesn’t pay off.

The team

Nancy Farghalli Executive Producer
Bridget Bodnar Producer
Daisy Palacios Producer
Sean McHenry Associate Producer
Maria Hollenhorst Associate Producer