Ford Takes Second Bite From Apple

This is the second time Ford has tapped an executive from Cupertino in as many years.

Ford's Peter Stern
Ford’s Peter Stern

With its recent hire of Peter Stern to helm its newly formed Ford Integrated Services business, automobile manufacturing giant Ford has taken another step to grow its portfolio of high-margin, subscription-based services in and outside of its vehicles.

This is the second time Ford has tapped an executive from Cupertino in as many years. The company hired Doug Field as its Advanced Technology and Embedded Systems officer in September 2021; his remit included creating the next generation of connected products, the cornerstone of the car maker’s Ford+ growth plan.

“We’re developing and delivering connected digital products that give customers a tailored ownership experience,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said during an investors event last quarter, “opening up diverse revenue pools and unprecedented growth for us instead of jockeying for slivers of share with complex hardware in overserved vehicle categories.”

Stern, who reports directly to Farley, spent the previous six years at Apple managing numerous offerings including Apple TV+, iCloud, and Apple Arcade. Before that, he was Time Warner Cable’s executive vice president and chief Product, People, and Strategy officer.

“I love creating new services businesses, and this is the perfect chance to do just that,” Stern said in a prepared statement. “The auto industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, from gas engines to electric vehicles and from human to autonomous driving. At the same time, the basis for differentiation is shifting from the vehicles alone to the integration of hardware, software and services.”

Stern and his team are tasked to expand offerings across three major business lines: Ford Blue (gas-powered and hybrid vehicles), Model e (electric vehicles), and Ford Pro (fleet vehicles). None of them are coming from a standing start. Ford Pro commercial customers account for 550,000 existing software services subscriptions, or 80% of its customer base. Existing services likely to be built out under Stern’s watch include the company’s BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system as well as product, safety, and security services.