TOKYO - Mark Fields is no Wolfgang Reitzle.
Maybe that's good.
Fields, 41, will become head of Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group in June, replacing the 53-year-old Reitzle at the helm of the Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin brands.
Fields, who has been president of Mazda Motor Corp. for the past four years, will take over an outfit that will be skeptical of his skills and suitability for the job. Moreover, he will face tough decisions regarding the Premier Automotive Group's mixed results since it was set up three years ago.
But Fields' track record at Mazda implies that he may be well suited for the task, even though - or perhaps because - he is no Reitzle.
"I think it's a perfect fit. I'm positively surprised by what Mark Fields did at Mazda," said Tatsuo Yoshida, an auto analyst for Deutsche Securities Ltd. in Tokyo.
Reitzle, an acclaimed product guru whose silver-spoon tastes were polished by years at BMW AG, was intimately involved in Premier Automotive Group product development.
But the unit's performance under his watch has been mixed: The different brands have benefited from some module and platform synergies, but they increasingly overlapped in the market. In addition, Jaguar has had to use extensive incentives, to the detriment of its luxury image, to reach its sales goals.
Fields, a marketing whiz, cannot expect to mimic Reitzle's engineering-uber-alles approach. Asked what skills he thought Ford CEO Bill Ford sought in tapping him for the Premier Automotive Group job, Fields said: "I spend a lot of time listening, team building, having a very laserlike focus on brand DNA and integrity, and getting results."