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Ford spins-out autonomous vehicles organization

Ford Motor Company has created Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, a new organization charged with accelerating Ford’s autonomous vehicles (AV) business to capitalize on market opportunities.

Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC 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, which is structured to take on third-party investment, 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.

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Sherif Marakby, currently Ford vice president, Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, is now CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC reporting to a board of directors chaired by Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s executive vice president and president, Mobility. Ford said that 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.

With Marakby’s move, Ted Cannis, global director, electrification, will lead Ford’s Team Edison, the team responsible for developing and bringing to market next-generation electric vehicles. Team Edison will continue to report to Jim Farley, executive vice president and president, Global Markets.

In addition, Ford is reorganizing 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.

Ford hopes the 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.

Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president, Product Development and Purchasing, will now report directly to Hackett. Under Thai-Tang, Ford is moving to flexible vehicle architectures and more common parts across models, intending to cut new product development time—from sketch to dealer showroom—by 20 percent. The company intends to have the most efficient Product Development organization 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—customized for each vehicle.

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