Ford Motor Company (F 0.41%) announced today that its CEO, Jim Hackett, who has led the company since 2017, has elected to retire. 

As was widely expected, Hackett will be succeeded by Jim Farley, a longtime Ford executive who became the company's chief operating officer earlier this year. The changes will be effective Oct. 1. Hackett will serve as a "special advisor" to Ford from Oct. 1 until he retires on March 31, the company said. 

Farley, who joined Ford in 2007 from Toyota to run the company's marketing team, has long been seen as a rising star in the organization. Shortly after becoming CEO, Hackett put Farley in charge of Ford's global product initiatives, a position in which he could essentially audition for the top job. 

Hackett and Farley are shown seated at a table during a presentation.

Jim Farley (right), Ford's current chief operating officer, will take the top job when CEO Jim Hackett (left) retires at the end of September. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

Farley's appointment as Ford's chief operating officer in February was widely seen by analysts as a signal that his audition had been successful. 

Hackett, who played football at the University of Michigan and was the longtime CEO of Steelcase, took Ford's top job in May 2017 with a mandate to accelerate the company's transition to a new era of smart vehicles. Hackett often spoke of improving Ford's "fitness" by reducing costs, revamping internal processes to make Ford more "nimble," and eliminating unprofitable products from its global portfolio.

Under Hackett, Ford accelerated electric-vehicle and autonomous-driving initiatives begun by his predecessor, Mark Fields. Hackett set in motion restructuring efforts in all of Ford's regional operations, looking to improve profitability with extensive product and process changes. 

Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement that he is "very grateful" to Hackett for his efforts to "modernize" Ford.

"We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity," Ford said. "And we are becoming much more nimble, which was apparent when we quickly mobilized to make life-saving equipment at the outset of the pandemic."

Editor's note: This article has been corrected. Hackett is an Ohio native.