Ford Shakes It Up, Tesla’s Struggle Bus, A Case For Younger Execs

October 19, 2023
It’s Thursday and we’re burning around the track this week as we talk about the leadership shake up at Ford. We also review Tesla’s earnings call from yesterday, as well as talk about some new data on the effectiveness of people of different ages on exec teams.
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Show Notes with links:

There was a unique lull in the UAW action yesterday

Meanwhile, Ford announced a management reshuffle yesterday, promoting Kumar Galhotra from combustion vehicle unit chief to chief operating officer.

  • Kumar Galhotra, who once led the Ford Blue unit producing gas and hybrid vehicles, will now oversee the company's global industrial system.
  • Andrew Frick, who managed Ford Blue's sales, distribution, trucks, SUVs, enthusiast vehicles, and operations in Mexico and Canada, will replace Galhotra at the unit.
  • "These moves will drive clarity and simplicity across Ford, so we can significantly ramp up our capabilities and combine them with businesses that are focused on the needs of different customers."

Tesla's third-quarter earnings call revealed a more cautious tone due to global economic concerns and high interest rates. CEO Elon Musk also announced the Cybertruck's delivery date, while also reflecting on management changes and the company's growth amidst competitive pressures.

  • Musk disclosed the company's plans to establish a factory in Mexico aimed at producing affordable vehicles. However, the timeline for this project isn't aggressive due to worries about the state of the global economy. Musk mentioned, "In Mexico, we're laying the ground to begin construction, but I think we want to just get a sense of what the global economy is like before we go full tilt." He further commented that if interest rates decrease, they might accelerate the plans for the Mexico plant. 
  • Tesla's Cybertruck, with over 1 million reservations, is set for its inaugural delivery on November 30th at the Austin, Texas Gigafactory, where its pricing will be unveiled. Musk emphasized the production challenges, aiming for a target of a quarter million units annually after 2024.
  • “We dug our own grave with the Cybertruck,” said Musk. “Cybertruck’s one of those special products that comes along only once in a long while. And special products that come along once in a long while are just incredibly difficult to bring to market to reach volume, to be prosperous.”
  • Tesla stock was down 3% 40 minutes into the call

While ageism has been a recent topic of discussion, some experts believe younger executive leadership is essential for promoting innovation and addressing long-term challenges.

  • Martin Reeves of Boston Consulting Group states older leaders might rely on outdated strategies and prioritize short-term gains, while younger professionals may be open to new, long-term strategies but lack the authority to implement them.
  • The average age of Fortune 500 CEOs is 57.7, with factors like prolonged life expectancy and pandemic-induced challenges pushing back retirements.
  • Research from George Mason University indicates companies with significant age differences between the CEO and other executives tend to be more innovative.
  • Arjun Shekhar, co-founder of Pravah and ComMutiny, argues for younger executive leadership, emphasizing their fresh perspectives, willingness to challenge the status quo, and adaptability in a digital age.

Paul Daly: 0:25burning around the track this week, October 19. It is a Thursday. And today we're talking about Ford shaking it up Tesla riding the struggle bus. And a case for younger executives.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:38

I go to the people really want to know who is in who? Tesla's right in the struggle track. Well, you know,

Paul Daly: 0:46

okay, they have the issue with younger executives. Maybe that's part of the problem. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know this. But I think of that until just now. I was like, oh, you know, those two stories actually may have something in common. Watch it. I know. I know. Man coming off a really busy asoto verse day yesterday with the release of more than cars, episode two, released it on a live stream, which is, you know, I didn't think about this till yesterday. I don't know that our date selection was amazing. Yeah, like

Kyle Mountsier: 1:19

everybody's that digital.

Paul Daly: 1:21

Literally didn't hit me. It didn't hit me until later, as I was, like back caught back up on LinkedIn and stuff. I'm like, oh, because like, it's really interesting. I didn't see this person there, that person there because like, they're really looking forward to this. And I was like, Huh,

Kyle Mountsier: 1:35

no catch, they'll find, I don't know. We'll send it back out and few things will get

Paul Daly: 1:40

oh, yeah, well, you can see it right now. If you didn't catch the live stream at more than more than it's up there. And Jason Monahan says it was a soft launch, I'll tell you what were the Soto. It's, it's like a constant, perpetual soft launch, I don't know, we might actually launch soft launch something during this show that we're not already thinking of, spent a little time together, the directors Associate Director spent a lot of time together yesterday. Back here was great.

Kyle Mountsier: 2:07

Here's the thing, just like, one, we just want to say how to all of you listening, like the velocity, the speed, the expertise of our team, and what they do on a daily basis. We've got so one of our directors, owl, he mainly works on, like all of our events and, and, and brings us so to con and the tour that we did earlier this year together and manages all of that. And so he's not like it as in the day to day of like the output and the tasks and everything that's happening. And we're it's like 435 o'clock yesterday, and he just like, looks at everyone and goes, holy cow, I had no

Paul Daly: 2:49


Kyle Mountsier: 2:50

Oh, that's what happens every single day as the output so just like to the world. You got to get to know the asoto crew because they are lights out.

Paul Daly: 3:02

Yeah, we got we got what I'm trying to say who's on the stream right now. I mean, we got Nathan always rocking the producer mode. Nathan, where are you at? Come on the camera for a second. There we is. Is it Nathan? Everybody you know, you actually probably know if you've ever been around Nathan, you know that he's the man behind the curtain when it comes to why everything looks okay. And then Jordan here put Jordan up even though he's Jordans on there. He just realizes Oh, he's like, Oh, boy. I gotta I gotta go Mom.

Kyle Mountsier: 3:34

Right about this is like we're so keyed up. We just We just happened past Yes. already plugged in. waiting to get my interface. Yep. Podcast time. Hey, wait, hang on a second. I'm actually talking to an industry partner right now. Kyle and Paul. I got I got Wayne on the phone. So

Paul Daly: 3:49

let's let Wayne say hi. Hey, Wayne. We're actually in our live show right now. So we're gonna say hi. Hi, there. What's up Wayne? Do you never know? You never know what's gonna happen when you're around a soda. I'm dead serious when so check out our live show in a minute. And when Give me one second. We put you on mute. Dude, you guys. You guys are stinkers. Right. All right. Well, man, we're just so keyed up, right? Like we just hop in and do it right little peek behind the curtain. So every morning we build the show and we have a whole document that has show notes and this and that. And then Nathan puts it all together on the live stream and Jordan usually on the stream in the back end just like listening and kind of then we'll get off this and we'll like mix a few things up. So it's just a little peek behind the voiceovers but a lot goes into you seeing to morons and flat brim hats kind of stumble around the news and automotive every night now you get to see for today

Kyle Mountsier: 4:43

Hey, speaking about stumbling around the news in automotive segue

Paul Daly: 4:47

I don't know where you're going with this. Oh, we're about to stumble around the news and automotive. He's like what where do we go from here? Oh man. I do want to share one thing though. Just quickly got I know we're getting this sometimes you just get the person So we met with the directors yesterday, we're all together. And we were talking about why we care about what we do. Like why do we care individually, the directors, and then like trying to go from there? And like, what about it is life giving what drains us? And then thinking about? Why does anyone who watches or listens or reads the email or comes to an event? Why do they care about what they do, and we were talking about the dynamic of doing something that matters that even though we love cars, some people love cars, some people don't care about cars, but what they the growing sentiment is like, we believe that it's important to do something together, that changes people's lives for the better, that encourages people along the way, and provides a great living, right, that's the business side of it. So we'll flush that out a little bit more. And I got a quote from Simon Sinek this morning. And it says Our vision is only actionable if we share it without sharing. It is just a figment of our imagination. And so we're going to do the best we can to keep sharing that vision and hear your vision and kind of get those to a new collective vision and get something new and speaking of collective vision segue I don't know if you notice this but there is a strike going on in the was a strange day and this morning was a strange morning because it just seems like nothing really happened yesterday, which means probably a lot happened yesterday. Yeah. There's no no strike news. Notable strike news, which means like I'm hopeful that like there's some really good conversations going into the back channels and actual progress being made. Because that's usually what happens when you know, people aren't out front in front of the cameras, you know, trying to position for the next progress. So there's the the UAW update, no sad trombone because there's nothing there's it's it's kind of a neutral trombone. I don't know, either. So meanwhile, Ford announced a management reshuffle yesterday promoting Kumar gal Horta, from combustion vehicle unit for blue to Chief of operate Chief Operating Officer of the entire company. So that's a bit of a glow up for him. Andrew Frick who manage Ford blues, sales, distribution, trucks, SUVs, all that in Mexico and Canada is actually going to replace gal Honda as the leader now of the Ford blue business unit, which is the combustion engines. Jim Farley said these moves will drive clarity and simplicity across Ford. So we can significantly ramp up our capabilities and combine them with businesses that are focused on the needs of different customers.

Kyle Mountsier: 7:32

And the little like, the little tail end of that quote is like, okay, we're starting out, you know, we're starting to see more and more attention paid to hey, there are customers that want EVs customers that want ice different customers have both of those, you know, like, it's this little, little nod to, hey, we recognize that we can't go all in too fast and for customers that need everything. And like the fact that there are still business moves and shakeups happening on the Ford blue side, on the AI side of the business means that they're still focused there. So I love to see that because it just it's saying, hey, look, we recognize the consumers are still where they're at. Well, I

Paul Daly: 8:15

mean, with the Kentucky truck plant shut down, they probably like right, this is a great time to make some changes. Yeah, it really I mean, I wonder if that has something to do. I mean, obviously, they've been planning this for a while but still a time to do things. Not a lot of moving parts. Speaking things but not a lot of moving parts. Segway was don't have a lot of moving parts. Tests test this third quarter earnings call was yesterday revealed a more cautious tone due to the global economic concerns high interest rates. CEO Elon Musk also announced the cyber trucks delivery date. Finally, it's actually November 30, while also reflecting on management changes and the company's growth amidst the competitive pressures. So he says, One one, we'll talk about the cybertruck in a second, but he did disclose the plan the company's plans to establish their big Mexico factory in an effort to provide more affordable vehicles to the market. However, the timeline for the project is kind of lacks, it's not really aggressive, due to kind of the economic worries must set in Mexico are laying the ground to begin construction. But I think we want to get a sense of what the global economy is like before we go full tilt. He mentioned interest rates again, and then the cybertruck announcement. Everybody's been waiting for it over 1 million people on the waiting list with a reservation, and it's set to start to be delivered on November 30, which seems like okay, they're gonna get things moving. However, he said volume production will really begin. You know, they talked about until after 2024. Wow.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:42

Yeah, quarter million units after 2020. That's

Paul Daly: 9:47

1 million orders a quarter million.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:52

Warren carry

Paul Daly: 9:53

25 means they can get through their list by 2526 27 by 2029 New Year's 22 Monday night, everybody that a reservation list currently will be fulfilled. So here's, like,

Kyle Mountsier: 10:05

I You're gonna, this quote is unbelievable. But before we lay this quote out, this, to me is much more in line with the way that you see, like software development hadn't been happen, and not hardware development. hardware development, typically when deadlines or production volume, is is in place, is is very, very regimented. Like, you know, these OEMs, in certain times are going to come out with certain features and all that type of stuff. And the production timeline of software has a lot of a lot of weird moving parts that typically like push the timelines out you in auto, we refer to this as like it's coming out in queue five. And and I think that we're seeing that as all the r&d that has to go into coming out with a brand new vehicle line, as well as the r&d that has to come out for the software alongside that vehicle line, because we still don't know exactly what's going to be inside that cybertruck. Right, that it's still not clear. Like we see the body, we've seen that we've seen some prototypes, but we don't know what the end delivery state of the technology that they're embedding into this. Yep. And then

Paul Daly: 11:22

I talked about it a lot. Yep. They've been saying it's going to have great technology.

Kyle Mountsier: 11:26

Exactly. And that's where I think when we see that, it's probably going to be very Apple as surely Apple ask where you just like, you put

Paul Daly: 11:34

what, in a truck.

Kyle Mountsier: 11:37

Yeah, and it does. Right,

Paul Daly: 11:40

I couldn't be we're gonna see, well, here's the quote that you're talking about. We dug our own grave with the cybertruck said Elon Musk's cyber trucks, one of those special projects that comes along only once in a long while. And special products that come along once in a long while, while incredible, are just incredibly difficult to bring to market to reach volume. To be prosperous. Yeah. So he's thinking financially, he's thinking technically, you know, just even though he innovated several manufacturing methods, right, to make the truck new material. So I don't know, we'll see what happens. Investors weren't super excited about this whole thing. The stock was down 3%, just 40 minutes into the call. So I don't know what it's done. It must be really weird to like, have that level of announcement and influence and you're just talking and you can just like, you know, just like the sentiment tracker is literally people selling stuff it's on it's really quite unbelievable. Oh, man. Well, speaking of things that are I don't know, I think pretty believable. Yeah.

Kyle Mountsier: 12:41

So ageism, especially in the work environment has consistently been a topic of discussion, discussion and come up a lot more recently as as the job market is changing, some experts actually believed younger executive leadership is absolutely essential for promoting innovation and addressing long term challenges. Martin Reeves of Boston Consulting Group stated that older leaders, a lot of times rely on outdated strategies, or prioritize short term gains, while younger professionals may be open to new long term strategies. But interesting enough, lacked the authority to implement them. Here's a couple of data points. So the average age of fortune 500 CEOs is 57.7. So almost six years old, with factors like prolong life expectancy, and Pandemic induce challenging challenges pushing back retirement, so you're seeing CEOs stay longer, or old or older CEOs being stated. But what it says is that the most innovative companies, according to George Mason University, actually see CEOs with a broad age gap gap to the rest of their executives saying, essentially, like, you've got the CEO with the authority, and the insights to implement the ideas and the innovation that come along with the younger executive in the organization. And that balance is almost required for for companies to stay innovative. The last one, I ruin shakar, co founder of Prava. And community argues for younger executive leadership, emphasizing their fresh perspectives, willingness to change the status quo and adaptability in a digital age. And, Paul, we're seeing this in auto a lot, too. Yeah, right. That's,

Paul Daly: 14:26

I mean, that's one of the reasons that this article is super relevant to the auto industry, because this is the industry is just one that is all about transitions and leadership. And this era, this last, you know, the last 10 years through probably the next 10 years, is going to see the biggest handoff from like parent to child, right that we've ever seen in the industry. And we're also seeing like, Jr, right, he or she is getting more voice at the executive table because there's a different way of thinking there are new technology eTools being deployed, it's a different world and the older strategies need to be blended with these new tools and these new tactics and techniques. So I think this is is like a critical point for retail automotive and, and it highlights the necessity for the fresh thinking, but also the necessity for the experience and the wisdom to have some kind of consensus disebut like, I've seen a couple of things in my day. And let's not go all in because we need to protect this,

Kyle Mountsier: 15:30

this, this and this. This is what I think is key is like whether you're in a younger generation or older generation recognizing that the other generations play a, an extremely valuable role in the success of your organization. And not dismissing their point of view, but actually utilizing it to come together to produce innovative technology, innovative strategies, innovative operations, because that level of collaboration is critical.

Paul Daly: 16:01

Oh wait and put a bow wait and put a bow on hey, we have you have an amazing day go to more than check out Episode Two and check out the email and send someone a nice message right now do that

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