Ford taps Apple exec to lead new software services unit

Ford has hired Peter Stern, a former executive at Apple, to lead its newly formed Ford Integrated Services unit. The unit will create and market software-enabled customer experiences across Ford’s three business units: Ford Blue, for gas and hybrid vehicles, Model e for connected EVs, and Ford Pro for commercial products.

As the era of the software-defined vehicle takes hold, Ford is actively building out more services to personalize the driver experience, connect hardware and software and bring in new revenue streams. While Ford generated $45 billion in revenue in the second quarter, the automaker expects its EV business to lose $4.5 billion in 2023. The company is betting on software to help close that gap.

Ford Integrated Services will be responsible for further developing technology like Ford’s BlueCruise “hands-free” highway driver assistance system, which is currently priced at $2,100. The new unit will also focus on commercial solutions for fleet management, telematics and EV charging. Ford says it already has 550,000 paid software and services subscribers, with 80% of those customers coming from Ford Pro.

Stern will also oversee Ford Next, the automaker’s global venture studio, according to the automaker.

Ford Next’s CEO, Franck Louis-Victor, was arrested in July on felony charges of arson and assault with a deadly weapon after a domestic dispute at his home. The charges were dismissed, but Louis-Victor no longer appears to be working at Ford. Ford says he in on leave. Louis-Victor previously oversaw a unit dedicated to technology-forward customer experiences.

Stern will report directly to Farley. The executive previously served as vice president of services at Apple and headed the launch of services like Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, MLS Season Pass and Apple One.

“This is transformational, because the cornerstone of our Ford+ plan is creating incredible customer services and experiences enabled by great hardware and software,” CEO and president Jim Farley said in a statement. “There’s simply no one in the world better able than Peter Stern to build this strategically vital part of our business.”