DETROIT (AP) — Bill Ford, who struggled for five years to steer Ford Motor Co. toward financial stability, is stepping down as chief executive and is being replaced by Alan Mulally, a top executive from the airplane maker Boeing Co.
Ford, part of the founding family at the auto company, will remain as chairman, however, according to Tuesday's surprise announcement.
Mulally, previously executive vice president of Boeing and president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, has also been named president at Ford.
Mulally, 61, was widely praised for being a key architect of the resurgence of Boeing's commercial airplanes unit over the past couple of years. He was a top candidate for the Boeing CEO job last year but the company went outside instead to select aerospace veteran Jim McNerney, then the 3M Co. chief executive.
In announcing Mulally's appointment to Ford employees, Bill Ford said in an e-mail that Ford's turnaround effort "required the additional skills of an executive who has led a major manufacturing enterprise through such challenges before."
Mulally, who has spent 37 years at Boeing, said he looked forward to applying lessons learned at Boeing to Ford.
"I also recognize that Ford has a strong foundation upon which we can build. The company's long tradition of innovation, developing new markets, and creating iconic vehicles that represent customer values is a great advantage that we can leverage for our future," he said in a statement.
Dearborn-based Ford, which lost $254 million in the second quarter, pledged in July to speed up a restructuring it announced in January. Ford has been hurt by competition from fuel-efficient cars mainly from Asian automakers.