TOKYO - Just as he was seeing the results of changes he had made at Mazda Motor Corp., product czar Martin Leach has been asked to do it again for Ford of Europe.
In his new job, effective Jan. 1, Leach also will be in charge of Ford Motor Co.'s global small car programs. He will leave his post as managing director at Mazda on Nov. 30.
Taking Leach's place will be Philip Martens, now chief engineer of vehicle and chassis engineering for Ford's small- and medium-car vehicle center in Cologne, Germany.
Before that, Martens was chief program engineer for the Panther platform (Lincoln Town Car, Ford Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis). He also has experience with Mazda when the two companies worked together on the Probe/MX-6 coupes. Martens will join Mazda on Nov. 1 and assume Leach's responsibilities on Dec. 1
As head of product planning, design and programs, Leach wanted to make Mazda's products the best in class for handling and braking. He hoped to give Mazda BMW-like vehicle dynamics and Alfa Romeo-like styling. The wave of products to come from Mazda in the next three years will bear Leach's product development stamp. He moved to Mazda from Ford in 1996.
Leach said he was dismayed that he had to leave Mazda while he still had 'lots of ideas' about changes to be made. But he noted that his new post allows him to work on Mazda's joint small-car programs with Ford. It also helped that Ford made him a corporate vice president at the age of 42. His boss will be Richard Parry-Jones, group vice president of product development, Ford Automotive Operations.
Said Leach: 'The framework at Mazda is in place. It won't fall apart. We have 5,000 engineers to keep it going.'