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Ford CEO Mark Fields ousted in favor of self-driving car exec

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Jim HackettIt's the end of an era, albeit a short one: this morning, Ford Motor Company announced the conclusion of CEO Mark Fields' three-year run. Instead of launching a lengthy hunt for a new executive, the automaker is promoting its self-driving car chief, Jim Hackett, to the top role. Fields' unexpected retirement, which is being billed by the automaker...

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Ford is really putting it's eggs into self-driving tech then.

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I think a lot of auto companies are pissing away a ton of money into autonomous vehicles as well as electric vehicles. I don't think the electric vehicles have paid for themselves yet in terms of return on the R&D investment yet. Honestly, they are assuming that the public will willing want, accept, and feel safe in autonomous vehicles. That's a sketchy bet in my opinion.

Is it the environmentally (e.g. politically) correct thing to do? Perhaps but it is not necessarily a sound business model because there is no guarantee of a pay off. It could cost billions to the auto companies with zero return if it is ultimately a failure. Case in point  - whatever happened to hydrogen cars?

Autonomous, electric, or hydrogen vehicles won't be successful without significant and costly changes in the highway infrastructure in this country. This are improvements that will be government (e.g. taxpayer) funded and will take years, if not decades, to implement and cost billions or trillions. If you think construction is bad now in your next of the woods, image every single road or highway needing to be even slightly modified to manage all the autonomous cars (sensors, wi-fi, camera, embedded road rails, etc.).

Now think even further ahead, if we are in a Uber-based, autonomous vehicle society. How is road based taxes collected if fewer and fewer people own cars? Who is going to own the Uber-cars for that matter? Road taxes may be based on fare charges/miles driven? Or everyone who pays taxes in the state is charged a plat road tax as part of their state income tax much like Internet-based sales taxes are done today in the state of Michigan (its up to $60 per year for non-sales taxed Internet transactions)? 

I, for one, am not holding my breath on this.

 

As for Mr. Fields, I think he was trying to do too much with Ford's resources and it hurt Ford, necessitating in salaried layoffs.

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