Ford Expands Role of Politician Huntsman to Vice Chair of Policy

Ford Motor Co. tapped Jon Huntsman, the former diplomat and Utah governor who sits on the automaker’s board, to join its senior management team and offer advice on changes transforming the auto industry.

The company named Huntsman vice chairman of policy on Wednesday and charged him with providing counsel to new Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley and Executive Chairman Bill Ford, great-grandson of founder Henry Ford. Huntsman will remain a director.

Ford Expands Role of Politician Huntsman to Vice Chair of Policy

Huntsman served as U.S. ambassador to Russia under former President Donald Trump, who is said to have considered him for secretary of state. Huntsman also served as U.S. ambassador to China under former President Barack Obama. A Republican, Huntsman made an unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2012 and was governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009.

Tough new climate regulations around the world are speeding the shift to electric vehicles. Huntsman will work with Ford’s government relations staff, as well as its legal and environmental executives, to help with those public policy issues.

“Global policy is hugely important to transforming Ford,” Farley said in a statement. “Jon’s background, insights and achievements are unrivaled – as an ambassador and trade representative, a state governor and a public-company executive.”

Ford recently doubled its spending to $22 billion to electrify its lineup and has pledged to go almost all battery power in Europe by the end of the decade. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company was among the first automakers to back California’s move to ban new gas-powered cars by 2035. The company drew the wrath of Trump last year when it sided with California on tougher mileage rules.

A new KPMG report on the move to electric vehicles predicts one or two of the world’s top automakers will fail to make the transition and cease to exist within a decade.

Huntsman was first elected to Ford’s board in 2012, but resigned in September 2017 to become ambassador to Russia. He left the Russia post in October 2019 and returned to Ford’s board a year later. He also sits on the board of oil giant Chevron Corp.

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