Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Toyota "Star" Goes American (Ford): Will More Follow?

Jim Farley

Need proof the Big 3 may be on the verge of doing some good, perhaps even great things? Check out the latest management coup with Ford hiring Jim Farley away from Toyota to become the U.S. automaker's main man running marketing and communications.

In the auto industry, this is an important hire. Farley was an up and coming star at Toyota who played a key role in developing it's entry level Scion brand before moving up in the company. "He gets it" is the way one auto industry insider once described Farley.

Farley's move to Ford, along with Chrysler hiring Jim Press from Toyota and Deborah Meyer from Lexus shows the Big 3 may be getting to a point where Toyota stars are interested in working for them. Three years ago, none of these people would have even considered leaving Toyota for Ford or Chrysler.

But things are changing. The new UAW contracts will make the U.S. automakers more competitive, so they are no longer viewed as sinking ships. Also, both Ford and Chrysler are now run by outsiders intent on dragging their companies out of their "also-run" status. That means not just competing with Toyota and Honda , but beating the industry leaders.

Farley, Press, and Meyer alone are not enough to put Ford and Chrysler on top. But they are a start. After years of dismissing the Asian automakers, the Big 3 may finally be working on a real recipe for beating their foreign competitors.

Questions?  Comments?