Ford of Europe CEO David Thursfield is a leading candidate to run Ford Motor Co.'s international and purchasing operations, company insiders say.
The job would be a critical posting that could put the 56-year-old Thursfield in line to replace Ford Motor Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele, a Ford source said.
Officially, a Ford spokesman said no such deal is being considered. But inside sources said the promotion could happen within the next two months.
In the new position, Thursfield would retain oversight of Ford of Europe while being able to direct Ford's Japan and Asian operations, where the automaker has struggled. The international job is vacant, while Carlos Mazzorin, the 60-year-old head of global purchasing, Asia/Pacific and South American operations, is expected to retire.
Thursfield is one of Ford's brightest stars at a time when the troubled automaker needs heroes. He and Scheele put Ford of Europe's turnaround plan in place. When Scheele moved to the USA last spring, Thursfield implemented it.
Thursfield also has led the restructuring and quality turnaround at Ford of Europe's factories.
After losing $1 billion (E1.1 billion) in 2000, mostly from restructuring costs, Ford of Europe showed a $266 million profit last year and posted a $117 million profit in the first quarter.
'We're not shouting 'victory' by any means,' Thursfield said. 'We still have processes we need to improve.'
A career manufacturing man, Thursfield has quietly advanced up that side of the business, working in Australia, the USA and Europe.