The split among combustion, electric and commercial products comes with its own challenges, including keeping each team motivated. Morale took a hit last year after reports of impending layoffs suggested the traditional side of the business would bear the brunt of them. In the end, cuts were made in multiple units. 

“I think culturally you always have to make sure that everybody feels they’re on equal footing, that there isn’t one favored part of the business versus another,” Ford said. “It’s something I spent a lot of time with Jim on because I’ve been through that earlier in my career, where if you weren’t in the new part of the business you were considered not an up-and-comer, and that’s devastating to the culture of the company. I think the team, the organization, is holding together. But there are always going to be whispers, and I get that. Every corporate culture has it. But Jim and his leaders have done a really good job making this an egalitarian venture.”

Field, who leads the EV division — called Ford Model e — under Farley, said he tries to keep both teams engaged by acknowledging their different work styles, since many in Model e came from newer, tech-focused companies that don’t operate like a legacy automaker. 

“One of the principles is ‘don’t try and average,’ ” Field told Automotive News in late 2022 during a roundtable with some of Ford’s new hires. “Recognize these are people coming from different worlds, and what’s really hard is respect and acceptance of such different working styles. The worst thing we could do is average it and try to get everyone to come to some sort of middle. The magic happens when there is conflict, but it has to be respectful conflict.”

Lisa Drake, Ford’s vice president of EV industrialization, joined the Model e team after years of working on the traditional side of the business. 

She said during the roundtable that bringing the two sides of the business together is “the hardest thing we do as leaders” but that most employees were excited about the opportunities. 

“The hardest part is just the integration of it, and we’ve had our challenges in doing it,” she said. “It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be difficult. Not everybody will follow or want to follow, and that’s OK. You have to change. But our values will stay the same, and a lot of people are at Ford because of our values, not necessarily our culture. Once we move past this really difficult time, probably in the next few months … I think the team that’s sort of in place will be the team that delivers.”

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