DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. President Jim Padilla will retire July 1, and CEO Bill Ford will assume his responsibilities.
Padilla, 59, leaves after 40 years at Ford. He also will depart the company's board of directors. Bill Ford will preside over a new executive operating committee composed of the automaker's five executive vice presidents.
As part of the transition, Executive Vice Presidents Mark Fields and Mark Schulz will report directly to Bill Ford. They had reported to Padilla.
Members of the new executive operating committee include Fields, Schulz, Anne Stevens, Lewis Booth and CFO Don Leclair.
Fields, 45, is president of the Americas; Schulz is president of international operations; Stevens is COO of the Americas; and Booth is executive vice president for Ford of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group.
By leaving the chief operating officer position unfilled, Ford cleared the way for a potential promotion for Fields if the company's planned restructuring delivers results.
Fields previously led a turnaround at Ford affiliate Mazda Motor Co. and has headed the company's European and luxury units.
"I think Mark Fields will eventually be COO, but it's possible they might still bring in someone from outside the company," said Burnham Securities analyst David Healy.
Fields has won praise from dealers for paying closer attention to their views on what is needed to reverse a slide in market share driven by slower sales of profitable sport utility vehicles.
"We like what we're hearing. We haven't always agreed with (management) the way we are agreeing now," said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Los Angeles-based Galpin Ford, the No. 1 Ford dealership.
"We have the right team for the job at hand and it is time for me to allow them to grow even further and transition into the new roles that await them," Padilla said in a statement.
Bill Ford said on Wednesday the Detroit auto industry was in a "precarious" situation, but said he did not see bankruptcy as a risk for the No. 2 U.S. automaker.
Strong competition, soaring health care and raw material costs, and a slide in U.S. market share forced Ford to announce a second restructuring for its North American operations in four years.
Saddled with a junk debt rating and facing a sharp drop in U.S. market share, Ford's restructuring plan, dubbed "Way Forward," is designed to reverse a $1.6 billion loss last year in its North American operations.
Padilla's retirement was the most recent in a string of executive departures at Ford, which has been trimming the ranks of its corporate officers.
Others who have recently left Ford include former Vice Chairman Greg Smith, veteran sales and marketing executive Steve Lyons and Chief Information Officer Marv Adams.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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