Ford Division will survive intact in Ford Motor Co.'s upcoming reorganization.
The division will remain responsible for selling and marketing Ford brand cars and trucks in the United States. In addition, Jim O'Connor, division president, will sit on the new Ford North America executive committee overseeing Ford brand vehicle development, manufacturing and marketing in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Earlier, Ford had characterized the division's role in the reorganized company as more limited, casting the organization as a dealer liason.
Divisional personnel and responsibilities plus the 17 Ford Division regional offices will not change, said Robert Rewey, group vice president of consumer services and North America.
'Ford Division's role effective Jan.1 is exactly the same as it is today. Jim O'Connor is totally in charge,' Rewey said.
MOVE TO DECENTRALIZE
Last month, Ford said it was decentralizing its automotive operations. On Jan. 1, regional operations in Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific gain more clout. Ford wants the groups to better and more quickly gauge local consumer tastes.
Reaching the so-called echo boom generation - children of the baby boomers - is particularly important, Rewey said.
'We have 80 million people who are 20 years or younger in the echo boom generation who are going to drive the behavior of the U.S. vehicle market over the next 20 to 30 years,' Rewey said. 'We had better understand what they are going to want and demand.'
Not understanding the baby boomers in the 1980s 'left the door open' to Japanese manufacturers in the U.S. market, he said.
Rewey said he has not yet begun meeting with Martin INglis, the head of Ford's South American operations who will lead a new business unit as vice president of Ford North America.
Rewey said he is relinquishing to Inglis day-to-day responsibilies for Ford Division, Ford of Canada Ltd., Ford of Mexico and the North American operations of the Ford Customer Service Division. Inglis reports to Rewey.
Rewey's daily oversight of Lincoln Mercury transfers to Wolfgang Reitzle, group vice president of the Premier Automotive Group, which now includes Lincoln and Mercury.
'I have all the global marketing activities plus a role working with Martin Inglis on North American issue,' Rewey said. For example, global marketing, dealer development, the company's new electronic commerce business unit, the Ford Customer Service Division and the subsidiary overseeing dealership consolidation still report to Rewey.
Rewey said Inglis' North American executive committee will include O'Connor; Chris Theodore, vice president of North America Car; and Gurminder Bedi, vice president of North America Truck. Other appointees likely will come from human resources, finance, public affairs and other operations, he said.
Ford's regional groups will work with global executives and organizations in product development, manufacturing and other activities.
For example, the company's small car vehicle development center in Germany will retain 'lead responsibilites' for the next generation Ford Focus, Rewey said. But regional organizations must ensure that the car reflects local tastes.
'The vehicle centers will have more of a regional focus but we are not going to abandon teh efficiencies and benefits of global-platform development,' he sais.
Ford executives are stressing cooperation between regional and global organizations, Rewey sais.
'Looking at our organization chart won't explain the way we are going to