Confirming what long has been expected within the industry, Ford today announced that Mark Fields will succeed Alan Mulally as the company's CEO, effective July 1, 2014.
Fields will also hold the office of president and has been elected as a member of the company’s board of directors.
His current position as COO, which he has held since December 2012, will be eliminated. Fields' appointment to that position at the time was widely seen as an anointment to the role of CEO in waiting.
Mulally, who joined Ford from Boeing eight years ago, previously announced plans to retire at the end of this year. He is 68 years old.
That timetable was advanced at Mulally's recommendation based on the readiness of Ford’s leadership team, according to a company statement.
"Alan and I feel strongly that Mark and the entire leadership team are absolutely ready to lead Ford forward, and now is the time to begin the transition," said Bill Ford, who recruited Mulally from Boeing in 2006.
The anticipated seamless transition underscores the strength of Ford’s leadership team and succession planning process, Ford added.
Under Mulally's leadership, Ford not only avoided the bankruptcy issues that engulfed Chrysler and General Motors, the Blue Oval has achieved 19 consecutive quarters of profitability.
In doing so, it arguably developed the strongest product lineup in Ford’s history, while embarking upon its most ambitious global expansion in at least 50 years.
"We always will be grateful to Alan for his leadership, compelling vision and for fostering a culture of working together that will serve our company for decades to come," said Bill Ford.
Fields, who is 53, has been in charge of Ford's North American operations since 2005. Before then, he was responsible for Ford’s European operations and formerly-held European luxury brands, as well as the relaunch of Ford’s independent operations in Argentina and a major restructuring and product renaissance at Mazda.
"Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO," said Ford.