Ford Shakes Up Management to Rescue N. America

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Ford Motor Co. (F) , the No. 2 U.S. automaker, Thursday announced a management shake-up designed to stem steep losses in its North American automotive operations.

Ford, which earlier this week announced one of the largest product recalls in automotive history, named Mark Fields (search), 44, president of the company's Americas business. He succeeds Greg Smith, 54, who was named vice chairman of Ford, responsible for central corporate staffs.

""Mark Fields ... is known for his marketing expertise and his skills as a motivator, as he proved in leading the recovery of Mazda. His next challenge is to lead The Americas automotive operations back to a sustained level of profitability while producing the best cars and trucks in the industry," Chief Executive Bill Ford (search) said.

Fields, who will report to Ford President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Padilla, is currently executive vice president for Ford of Europe and the company's Premier Automotive Group. In his new job, he will also be an executive vice president of Ford.

Most of the changes, which Ford said are also meant to maintain progress made in Europe and Asia, take effect Oct. 1.

Ford's CEO has previously said he would announce the automaker's turnaround plan for the North American auto unit "before fall gets too old," and the company has said it is working on more restructuring to stem its losses.

Strong competition, soaring health-care and raw material costs, and a slide in U.S market share have forced Ford to slash its profit forecast twice this year. Its North American auto operations swung to a pretax loss of $1.21 billion, including charges, in the second quarter.

Ford has not ruled out deeper job cuts in its salaried work force or the closing of manufacturing plants. The company, which has said its global automotive business will post a loss this year, has announced that it will cut its North American white-collar workforce 8% in 2005.

Mark Schulz, 53, was named president of international operations, in charge of all regions and brands outside the United States. He is currently responsible for Asia Pacific, Africa and Mazda.

Lewis Booth, group vice president for Ford and chairman and CEO for Ford of Europe, was elected executive vice president, Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group. Booth, 56, will remain chairman, Ford of Europe and will report to Schulz.

Hans-Olov Olsson, 63, vice president of Ford and president of Volvo Cars, was elected senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Ford, reporting to Bill Ford. Olsson, who also assumes the role of non-executive chairman, Volvo Cars, will be responsible for crafting a corporate marketing strategy that supports all the company's brands.