Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, director of powertrain development for the past decade at BMW AG, has been named vice president - Research at Ford.

Schmidt, 54, will replace William F. Powers, who recently announced his retirement. Schmidt will report to Richard Parry-Jones, group vice president, global product development and quality.

In his 21 years at BMW, Schmidt has worked in a wide range of roles in engine research and development. He was responsible for development of the company's first diesel engine and for many years was leader of the group designing the company's petrol engines.

As head of petrol-engine activities from 1985 through 1990, Schmidt reorganized the operation from a traditional drawing-design department to a computer-based centre of competence. Since 1990, he has been director of powertrain development and, since 1998, has been in charge of all engines and transmissions for the BMW Group.

He will head Ford's global research efforts and take up his appointment in the spring.