Ford CEO Change

Ford CEO replaced by the company head of the mobility services division.

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor was the American automaker savvy enough to avoid bankruptcy when industry sales collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. Then it rode economic recovery and cheap gasoline to record sales and profits. But what looks like success can turn upside down quickly in Detroit these days.

The latest evidence came Monday when Ford ousted its chief executive, Mark Fields, after only three years in the job. Mr. Fields had failed to persuade investors and his own board that the company was moving fast enough to develop the vehicles of the future, like battery-powered cars that drive themselves.

Industry stalwarts such as Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen are no longer the only automotive trendsetters. Now they share that distinction with interlopers from the tech world like Google, Apple, Uber and not least Tesla, the electric-car maker now valued more highly than any of the Detroit giants.

The upheaval at Ford, the nation’s No. 2 automaker by sales, after G.M., reflects the challenges that lie ahead for companies that cannot adapt to that new landscape fast enough.


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