Jim Hackett, the outgoing University of Michigan interim athletic director, will lead Ford Motor Company’s new mobility services company, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.

The company, Ford Smart Mobility LLC, will be a formal subsidiary of Ford. Hackett, a Ford board member since 2013, stepped down from the board on March 10 to assume his position as chairman of the subsidiary. The subsidiary aims to create commercially ready mobility services and collaborate with startups as well as established tech companies, Ford said.

The Smart Mobility initiative was first announced by Mark Fields, Ford CEO and president, in early 2015 as the signature piece of his plans as CEO, Crain’s reported. Since then, Ford has conducted experiments and pilot programs such as a car-sharing program, an Uber-like shuttle service for employees and an on-demand public bus service.

Hackett previously served as the CEO of furniture maker Steelcase for 20 years, retiring in 2014 to run Michigan’s athletic department. Ford’s statement credited Hackett for having transformed Steelcase “from a traditional office furniture manufacturer to a company that would change the way people work.”

Fields also spoke highly of Hackett and his suitability for the job in the statement.

“Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue,” the statement said. “Jim Hackett is the right visionary leader — with extensive experience in business development and design — to take us into the mobility services business in the future.”

Hackett said in a statement he looks forward to leading Ford Smart Mobility LLC into the frontiers of the transportation sector.

“I am absolutely thrilled to lead Ford’s mobility business into the future,” Hackett said in the statement. “Transportation in the world today is on the cusp of a major revolution, and Ford plans to lead the way by changing the way the world moves through Ford Smart Mobility.”

Warde Manuel, Hackett’s permanent replacement as UM athletic director, began the position on March 14. During his tenure as interim athletic director, Hackett made notable changes to the University’s athletic program, including signing a record breaking deal with Nike and hiring Jim Harbaugh as football coach.


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