LONDON - By putting more European product development authority in Europe, Ford's latest global reorganization will likely lead to more Europe-specific products for European customers.
The restructuring gives Ford of Europe boss Nick Scheele more autonomy and the final say on product development decisions in Europe. It also gives Europe its own product development boss: Ford and Mazda veteran Martin Leach.
The decentralizing steps return some of the power to Ford of Europe and Ford's other geographical regions lost under former Chairman Alexander Trotman's Ford 2000 plan. In spite of numerous changes undertaken since Jac Nasser took over as chief executive from Trotman at the beginning of this year, Ford officials continue to insist they are not retreating from Ford 2000.
Under the new structure, Scheele, now Ford of Europe president, will become chairman. Dave Thursfield, former vice president of vehicle operations in Dearborn, Michigan, becomes president and vice president and will move to Cologne. Scheele will be responsible for strategic issues, while Thursfield will run Ford of Europe day-to-day.
As Europe's new product development chief, Leach will report to Scheele. Leach, now Mazda vice president of product planning and design, will succeed Will Boddie as Ford of Europe's top product development executive.
Unlike Boddie, whose title is vice president of the small- and medium-car vehicle center, Leach's title will be vice president of product development Ford Europe. Boddie has reported to Ford's worldwide group vice president of product development, Richard Parry-Jones. In contrast, Leach will report directly to Scheele.
Boddie is returning to the United States to become vice president of global core engineering.
The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2000.
Ford continues to post losses in Europe, and sources say further cost-cutting measures are due. Just three days after the restructuring, Ford posted its third-quarter earnings, which showed Ford of Europe losing $171 million. Europe's losses contrast sharply with North America, where light-truck sales continue to push record earnings.