Jim Farley's Still in the Middle of a Tantrum

Last week the Ford CEO was mad that profits weren't high enough. This week, he says Ford has 25 percent more engineers than it needs.

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Jim Farley, who has been CEO of Ford Motor Company since October 2020, surely came into the job with his eyes wide open, having already worked for Ford for many years in executive roles. But even if we pretend like Farley spent those years learning nothing, he’s now been the top boss for almost two-and-half years. Surely, that’s enough time to get up to speed.

None of which really explains his freakout last week after Ford announced that its pretax profits were off by about a billion dollars in 2022. Ford still reported $10.4 billion in adjusted pretax profits for 2022, though in October the automaker had forecast to post at least $11.5 billion. Which is the kind of thing that, you know, happens. But that was enough to make Farley decide to unleash, despite being the guy on paper who should probably be taking responsibility instead.

“To say I’m frustrated is an understatement because the year could have been so much more for us at Ford,” Farley said on an earnings call with analysts late Thursday. “We have deeply entrenched issues in our industrial system that have proven tough to root out. Candidly, the strength of our products and revenue has masked this dysfunctionality for a long time.”


Maybe Farley is frustrated with himself, brought on to help solve quality issues that plagued his predecessor, a guy who used to run a furniture company. Maybe Farley is just frustrated with the pace of change at Ford, as he said in December it will take years for them to fix quality issues. Maybe Farley was just trying to show shareholders that he’s just as mad as they are, or something.

Either way, it was just two weeks ago when we saw the face of happy-go-lucky Jim Farley, the one who races on the weekends. Maybe our friend Jim was just having a bad day on Thursday. Still, fast forward to this week, and Bloomberg has a new story about Farley, in which he seems still mad. In the story, Farley says that 25 percent of Ford’s engineers apparently don’t contribute much, compared to Ford’s competitors.

Ford Motor Co.’s engineering ranks may bear the brunt of additional job cuts the automaker has alluded to in the wake of disappointing earnings, judging from CEO Jim Farley’s latest interview.

“It takes us 25 percent more engineers to do the same work statements as our competitors,” Farley said on “Cars & Culture with Jason Stein,” a SiriusXM radio show that will air the interview on Friday. “I can’t afford to be 25 percent less efficient.”


If you see Jim Farley in the hallway today at Ford headquarters, do not make eye contact. Certainly do not mention anything about the engineering department or offer your congratulations on Ford making billions of dollars last year. Jim Farley is not in the mood.