Published on July 28th 2018 in

Ford creates AV unit and reorganises global operations

Ford Motor Company announced it has created Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, a new organisation charged with accelerating its autonomous vehicle (AV) business to capitalise on market opportunities. The company also detailed key organisational changes designed to improve its operational fitness and drive profitable growth, both effective 1 August.

The company will include Ford’s self-driving systems integration, autonomous vehicle research and advanced engineering, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy and business development teams. The new LLC, will be primarily based at Ford’s Corktown campus in Detroit and will hold Ford’s ownership stake in Argo AI, the company’s Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development. Ford expects to invest $4 billion in its AV efforts through 2023, including its $1 billion investment in Argo AI.

Sherif Marakby, currently Ford vice president, Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, is appointed CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC reporting to a board of directors chaired by Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s executive vice president and president, Mobility. The closer alignment of the self-driving platform and the mobility solutions teams will allow faster development of businesses that can thrive in the pre- and post-autonomous vehicle worlds.

“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain, from technology development to business model innovation and user experience,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”

In addition, Ford is reorganising its Global Operations division led by Executive Vice President Joe Hinrichs to include Information Technology as well as the company’s global order-to-delivery system, integrating the teams, technologies and processes from both across Ford’s production system. As a result, Jeff Lemmer, vice president and CIO, will report to Hinrichs. This realignment will help the company accelerate the integration and application of technology across its industrial system to further streamline manufacturing, speed vehicle delivery times, reduce inventories and improve capital efficiency.

“The evolution of computing power and IT have helped bring great products to customers – from cars to tablets,” said Hackett. “We can now harness this technology to unlock a new world of vehicle personalisation, supply chain choreography and inventory leanness that rivals any industrial model in the world and Joe’s challenge is to help us redesign this system to do just that – while better serving customers and dealers and improving our overall fitness.”

Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president, Product Development and Purchasing, will also report directly to Hackett, a move that ensures these critical functions have an even stronger voice as the company creates a winning portfolio of products. Under Thai-Tang, Ford is moving to flexible vehicle architectures and more common parts across models, cutting new product development time – from sketch to showroom – by 20 percent. This is helping Ford achieve its commitment to deliver nearly $7 billion of engineering efficiencies. The company intends to have the most efficient Product Development organisation among full-line automakers within five years.

Ford’s five flexible vehicle architectures: body-on-frame, front-wheel-drive unibody, rear-wheel-drive unibody, commercial van unibody and BEV – are paired with module “families” that address the power pack, electrical pack and vehicle configurations. Seventy percent of each vehicle’s engineering will be driven from this new architecture approach, with 30 percent of content, including grilles, hoods, doors and more, customised for each vehicle.

This article courtesy of Russell Thrall III, publisher CollisionWeek. Check out their website at: www.collisionweek.com

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