Ford has announced that  Steven Armstrong, current chief of Ford Europe, is to move to the  Changan Ford joint venture as president.

Armstrong succeeds Nigel Harris, who has elected to retire from Ford at the end of 2019 after 34 years of service with the company. The new role for Armstrong, 55, will be effective October 1 and he will report to Ford China President and CEO Anning Chen.

Armstrong has served as president and chairman of Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa; president of Ford South America; chief operating officer of Getrag-Ford Transmissions; and in senior leadership positions at both Jaguar Cars and Volvo Cars.

Ford will be hoping that Armstrong’s wide experience will put him in a good position to turn its China performance around, where sales have plunged as the Chinese car market has declined and the economy slowed. In Q2 of this year, Ford sales in China reached 154,042 vehicles, a 21.7% decrease compared to the same period last year.

“Steve’s leadership will help us further strengthen the Changan Ford JV as we bring more new vehicles to the China market, including our first global all-electric small SUV,” said Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett. “His deep understanding of Ford and the automotive industry and keen ability to build productive relationships with partners and employees around the globe will serve us well as we drive Ford’s growth in China.”

Harris, 58, has held leadership roles in Ford business operations and marketing, sales and service over more than 30 years. Prior to his current role, he served as president of Ford India Private Limited; vice president of Asia Pacific Sales, Services and Distribution; and general manager of Changan Ford Sales Company. “Nigel is a highly seasoned executive who has motivated our people around the globe, and has been a valuable asset to this company,” said Hackett. “He has had an accomplished career at Ford, including key leadership positions in China, Europe, India and Asia Pacific, and we appreciate his significant contributions.”

Ford said that Harris will work closely with Armstrong through the transition, then advise Changan Ford and ‘support the evolution of the Ford China 2.0 Plan until his retirement’.