The new reporting structure may signal diminished autonomy for Premier Automotive Group under Fields' leadership.
His predecessor, Wolfgang Reitzle, treated Premier Automotive as his personal kingdom.
Indeed, ousted Ford CEO Jacques Nasser created Premier Automotive Group in 1999 to lure Reitzle back into the auto industry after his departure from BMW.
The changes also signal that Premier Automotive Group will be a very different place now that the Nasser-Reitzle era has ended. Under CEO Bill Ford, Ford Motor is trying to recover traditional values that were lost during Nasser's attempts to reinvent the company.
Reitzle, trained as an engineer, was fanatical about design and product development issues. When he visited the London headquarters of Premier Automotive Group's various brands, he spent time in the styling departments, suggesting tweaks to improve the designs. Designers and engineers at Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo felt Reitzle intuitively understood what they did.
Fields' experience is primarily in marketing and sales. He has led a Mazda turnaround that is showing signs of success. He is very tuned into brand issues, but he lacks Reitzle's engineering and product expertise.
Reitzle was an outsider to the Ford Motor culture and frequently chafed at the huge company's bureaucracy. But Fields, an American, is a Ford Motor insider who has been groomed for big things.
Fields held his first meetings in May with Robert Dover, chief of the British Premier Automotive Group brands, and William Cosgrove, Premier Automotive's CFO. A source said Dover and Cosgrove came away enthused about their new boss. Fields declined to talk about Premier Automotive Group meetings when he met with reporters May 24 in London. He is still Mazda president until the end of June.