Ford Motor Co. elevated two members of the founding family in an executive shuffle aimed at improving marketing and relations with its dealers as the automaker shifts to building electric vehicles.
(Bloomberg) — Ford Motor Co. elevated two members of the founding family in an executive shuffle aimed at improving marketing and relations with its dealers as the automaker shifts to building electric vehicles.
Elena Ford, cousin of Executive Chair Bill Ford, was promoted to the newly created position of chief dealer engagement officer effective Tuesday, from her previous position of chief customer experience officer, according to a company statement. In her new role, Elena Ford will work with 10,000 dealers worldwide on retail facilities, training, diversity and community engagement.
William Clay Ford III, son of the executive chair, will join the company later this month as general manager of its performance division that develops and markets souped-up models.
The Ford family still controls the 120-year-old automaker through a special class of stock and three of its members sit on the company’s board of directors.
In an interview, Elena Ford said the founding family’s enduring involvement is “great” for the company and something employees and dealers “are really excited about.”
“Most of the dealers are family-run businesses, so they feel very connected to us,” Ford said. “It’s so important to keep this legacy and this passion for the business.”
Elena Ford, who in 28 years at the company has held a variety of roles in marketing and at Ford Credit, said a key part of her new role is preparing dealers for the transition to EVs. They will need more training to convince buyers to make the switch from traditional internal combustion engine models, she said. Ford recently throttled back EV production as sales growth of battery powered models slowed, something Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley attributes to buyers beginning to push back on EV’s high prices.
Dealers “want more training for their front-line employees, the people who are going to sell the vehicle,” Ford said of the EV transition. “That’s a new muscle.”
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The automaker on Tuesday also named Lisa Materazzo its chief marketing officer. Materazzo previously was Toyota Motor Corp.’s top marketing executive in North America.
(Updates with comments from Elena Ford from the fifth paragraph.)
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