BRUSSELS - Ford Motor Co. has put its top manufacturing executive in Europe in charge of its German subsidiary, Ford Werke AG.
Rolf Zimmerman, 51, succeeds Ford of Europe President James Donaldson in the post. Donaldson, who had held both jobs, will continue as head of Ford of Europe and Zimmerman's boss.
Zimmerman was hired away from Volkswagen Group in January.
At VW, he oversaw Skoda's plant operations as well as quality and profitability. Most of Zimmerman's career was spent at General Motors' Adam Opel subsidiary.
Donaldson, 55, will now focus mainly on pan-European issues, although he has also added responsibility for eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey.
Ford in North America previously managed those markets as part of export operations, and the change in responsibility reflected their growing importance in Europe, said a spokesman.
Ford Werke makes much of the company's products for Europe. In 1997, the German subsidiary recorded a pre-tax profit of DM42.6 million ($23.7 million).
But last month Ford's president-elect, Jacques Nasser, warned that it will finish 1998 'only slightly in the black.'
Zimmerman is only the second German since the 1960s to lead Ford Werke. It is hoped having a German at the helm will help Ford to improve in the demanding German market.