Two senior Ford execs are getting new strategic assignments as Ford accelerates improvements to its global automotive business with an eye toward retooling two key regional markets – China and South America, while a pair of other Ford execs are on the move as well.
Steven Armstrong, who has led the Changan Ford joint venture in China for the past year and a half, will become Ford’s transformation officer for South America and India effective May 1st. In that role, he will lead the evaluation of capital allocations to India and the conclusion of restructuring of Ford’s South America business.
A native of the United Kingdom, Armstrong’s 34-year career has included assignments around the globe – including, at different times, as chairman, vice president and CEO of Ford of Europe, president, Ford South America, and, before that, Ford Brazil, and in the United States, Sweden, and Germany.
Armstrong will report to Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas and International Markets Group, along with Dianne Craig, who became president of Ford’s International Markets Group in February.
The company said in January that, going forward, it will serve customers in South America with connected and increasingly electrified SUVs, pickups, and commercial vehicles sourced from Argentina, Uruguay, and other markets.
He Xiaoqing will be Armstrong’s successor as president of Changan Ford and will report to Lyle Watters. He joined Ford China in April 2019 as director of Enterprise Alliances. He previously held several national and international senior leadership positions and is a well-respected leader in the China automotive industry.
At the same time, Daniel Justo, currently Ford’s CFO in the South American region, will become president of Ford South America. Justo and Anurag Mehrotra, managing director, Ford of India, will both report to Armstrong in his new role.
After a transition period, Lyle Watters, who is currently Ford’s president of South America and International Markets Group and also headed the transformation planning for South America, will relocate to Shanghai and take on the newly created position of general manager, Ford Passenger Vehicle Division, within Ford China, starting July 1st.
Watters and his team will be accountable for broadening Ford’s appeal to and enhancing the experience of customers with must-have products and services – more and more of them developed in-country for China consumers. In his new position, Watters will report to Anning Chen, president and CEO, Ford China.
Watters started with Ford in Great Britain in 1987 and has held leadership positions throughout Europe and in North America, in addition to South America since 2016. Among other roles, he has been controller for Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, and, variously, Business Strategy Director, CFO, and head of Strategic Planning for Ford of Europe.
At last week’s Shanghai Auto Show, Ford China unveiled the latest additions to its rapidly expanding vehicle portfolio – the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid SUV, a localized version of the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Lincoln Zephyr Reflection concept, and the fully networked Ford EVOS, the first product from Ford’s China 2.0 plan.
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An executive with this experience in the Changan-Ford joint venture will certainly translate into more vehicles developed in partnership with Chinese brands, sold in South America, with higher profit rates. The American / European models, certainly will be mere assistants to keep the brand alive. It started with Territory, Escort and now Equator.