When Wall Street analysts call Ford Motor Co.’s investor relations department these days, they’re likely to be greeted by Henry Ford himself.
It’s not the founder, of course, and it’s not a recording of him either. It’s Henry Ford III, the patriarch’s great-great grandson, who at age 39 has been thrust into the crucial role of liaison between the struggling automaker and its investors.
The III’s ascent — along with that of his cousin, the 32-year-old Alexandra Ford English, just named to the board of electric-truck maker Rivian Automotive Inc. — marks a coming of age for the fifth generation of the Ford dynasty. For all but 20 of its almost 117 years of existence, Ford has been led by a family member. And while critics lay much of the blame for the company’s current struggles on the Fords, the family sees Henry and Alexandra as their best hope of maintaining control for years to come.
“They’ve moving above the radar line now,” Jeffrey Sonnenfeld,…