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Henry Ford III is rising to the top of a dynasty facing crisis.
There are signs of new family leadership emerging at Ford Motor Company, evident through Henry Ford III and his cousin Alexandra Ford English. For the majority of its existence, the company has been led by a family member, and these two look to be working their way through the grooming process as the next candidates.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, associate dean at the Yale School of Management, said of the next generation: “They’re moving above the radar line now. This is what they were destined for when they entered the company. When we look at their dads, they’re on the same trajectory, with at least one, if not both, ending up on the board.”
Like many other automotive brands, Ford is feeling the effects of factory closures and drops in sales due to the coronavirus. However, the company is still remembered for being strong enough to avoid bankruptcy and a government bail out in 2009. Historically, the Ford family has been known for good management and not interfering in the decisions made at the corporate level.
Henry and Alexandra have both demonstrated the understanding of hard work and a diverse background of experience from past positions. Alexandra has held merchandising positions at brands such as Tory Burch and Gap before joining the company and working on projects for mobility solutions and Ford’s self-driving vehicle unit. Henry has also spent his fair share of time on the showroom floor, helping customers and selling vehicles with Los Angeles Ford dealer Beau Boeckmann. Boeckmann credits Henry’s success to his humility and work ethic: “He’s extremely humble and he is aware that he needs to work harder because of his name.”
Nissan’s Valls departs in another U.S. management shuffle.
Jose Valls has announced he will be stepping down in June from his position as chairman of Nissan’s North American operations. According to Automotive News, Valls reports this decision is fueled by personal reasons and will be effective June 15. Other company leaders will be stepping up to fill this gap, including Infiniti global chairman Mike Colleran and vice chairman Airton Cousseau of Nissan Latin America.
The company has been working to reboot North America profits after strained dealer relations. The brand is working to move away from fleet sales and heavy incentives after seeing sales and market share tumble in March. Rebuilding the North American market is expected to be a key part of Nissan’s midterm business plan released later this month. The company plans strong cuts to underperforming markets in order to boost their strength in U.S., China, and Japan. The brand has also struggled due to an aging vehicle line-up, and hopes to mitigate these challenges with the release of a next-generation Rogue crossover later this year.
Tesla plant gets police visit to ensure safety compliance.
Automotive News reports San Franciso police paid a visit to Tesla’s U.S. plant to verify the automaker was abiding by county safety-protocols. The police visit followed an announcement from Alameda County that Tesla would be allowed to open minimum basic operations. This was just one full day after CEO Elon Musk announced the company would be restarting production against county rules. After their Wednesday visit with county officials, Tesla representatives confirmed they would not be operating at full capacity.
Reports from the police visit will be made available to the public health officer for Alameda County to determine compliance with safety protocols. Local police officials have previously done multiple site visits over the years and are familiar with how the plant procedures would normally look under full capacity operations. According to Neetu Balram, a representative for the county health department, “Given the unique nature and scale of automobile manufacturing and the safety measures agreed to by Tesla, we concluded that ramp-up activity with a minimal increase in minimum basic operations can occur safely.”