Derrick Kuzak will replace Martin Leach as Ford's European product development chief in the latest round of personnel changes at the carmaker.
Although Ford's recent organizational restructuring doesn't officially take effect until August 1, the executives involved are already assuming their new responsibilities.
With Ford of Europe Chairman and CEO David Thursfield in the USA the week of May 20, Leach supervised a vehicle line review at Ford of Europe headquarters in Cologne.
At the same time, Kuzak, 51, was named Ford of Europe's vice president of product development following Leach's promotion to president and chief operating officer.
Kuzak, an American, had been executive director in charge of Ford of Europe's lower-medium, or Focus-based, car programs.
Kuzak was also heading C1 Technologies, a program bringing together Ford, Mazda and Volvo platforms and technologies for the next generation of the three brands' lower-medium cars.
Leach's ascent to Ford's top job in Europe continues the carmaker's drive to make product the focus of its European recovery strategy. As Leach moves forward, he will do so under Thursfield's guidance. Though he will now be based in the USA, Thursfield will continue to play a key role in Ford of Europe - even though Leach will manage the day-to-day business.
Thursfield is moving from Europe to Dearborn to take on added responsibilities as group vice president of international operations and global purchasing.
Ford sources say the new arrangement allows Thursfield, 56, to act as a mentor to Leach, 45 - particularly in the areas of finance and manufacturing. Leach, an engineer, has spent most of his career in product development and marketing. Thursfield came up the manufacturing side. Ford sources say Thursfield will see Ford's five-year European turnaround plan through to completion.
Ford continues to move executives back and forth across the Atlantic.
Kuzak was vehicle line director for Ford's compact pickup and sport-utility family from 1997 to 1999 before coming to Cologne. Associates describe him as a quiet, focused, organized engineer.
The restructuring continues the changes initiated by Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford after the turbulent Jacques Nasser years. Last month's appointment of Allan Gilmour as chief financial officer is an effort to restore 'the financial disciplines and information systems you used to have in the old days and that were sort of neglected and ignored,' said one Ford insider.
Gilmour retired from Ford in 1995 after serving as vice chairman. He also served as president of Ford Automotive Group and Ford Motor Credit Co. during his 34-year career.
Ford lost $5.45 billion (5.9 billion) in 2001. Nick Scheele, former chairman of Ford of Europe, was appointed group vice president, North America, in August 2001.
In January, Ford introduced a plan to eliminate 35,000 jobs worldwide and close five plants to try and return to profitability.
Ford's European turnaround strategy is becoming a model for the rest of the company. The two primary architects of that strategy - Scheele and Thursfield - are now applying some of the same thinking in the USA.