Ford Picks 3M Executive to Serve as Chief of Smart Mobility Unit

Ford Motor Co. hired Rajendra Rao from 3M Co. as chief executive officer of the Smart Mobility unit the automaker created to make a business of providing transportation services.

Rao, who will be based in Palo Alto, California, will lead businesses including City Solutions, the Chariot shuttle service and the Greenfield Labs business-model incubator. At 3M, he developed business models with a focus on smart cities, wearables and digital wellness, Ford said in a statement Thursday. The native of Bangalore, India, reports to Jim Hackett, chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC.

“Ford Smart Mobility is a significant growth opportunity for Ford,” Hackett said in the statement. “Raj has deep experience in digital transformation, new business model cultivation and startup partnerships. He is the right leader to lead the delivery of mobility services globally and bring to life our vision to change the way the world moves.”

Under siege by online ride-hailing companies and potential new competition from the likes of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Ford has been positioning itself as a provider of mobility services, as well as a manufacturer of cars and trucks. Despite the automaker’s strong profits, the stock slumped 14 percent this year through Wednesday, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 6.2 percent.

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