Departure of Mulally from Ford to mark end of an era

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Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 12:00 am

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor said Thursday that its chief executive, Alan Mulally, would retire on July 1 and be succeeded by Mark Fields, a veteran executive who has played a crucial role in the company’s turnaround.

Mulally had been expected to retire this year, ending a spectacular run as chief executive since joining Ford when it was struggling for survival in 2006.

The transition to Fields, a 25-year veteran of the company, as leader of the nation’s second-largest automaker has also been widely expected since he was elevated to chief operating officer two years ago.

Still, Mulally’s departure will end an era at Ford, in which the company borrowed billions of dollars to pay for a deep restructuring that allowed the company to avoid the bankruptcies and bailouts that overcame its chief U.S. rivals, General Motors and Chrysler.

“Alan deservedly will be long remembered for engineering one of the most successful business turnarounds in history,” said William Clay Ford Jr., the company’s executive chairman. “Under Alan’s leadership, Ford not only survived the global economic crisis, it emerged as one of the world’s strongest auto companies.”

Mulally, 68, joined Ford from Boeing and immediately began streamlining the company by trimming vehicle programs and realigning its vast bureaucracy and regional divisions under a turnaround plan, One Ford.

Fields played a big part in the comeback as the head of the Americas division, which cut thousands of jobs and closed factories to better align Ford’s production with its U.S. market share. Since becoming chief operating officer in December 2012, he has become increasingly visible, running the strategy meetings and overseeing Ford’s global auto operations.

“Under Alan’s leadership, we have seen the power of One Ford and what a culture of positive leadership and working together can accomplish,” Fields said. “My commitment is to build on that success by accelerating our pace of progress.”

Fields will face big challenges, including overseeing the introduction of the first pickup truck with a body made mostly out of aluminum and continuing to pare losses in Europe.

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