Ford has announced key executive appointments in its Americas and Ford of Europe operations.

In the Americas, the company announced Jim O’Connor’s plans to retire on December 31 as the company’s group vice president, North America, Marketing, Sales & Service.

Earl Hesterberg, a company vice president and Ford of Europe’s vice president of Marketing, Sales & Service, will succeed O’Connor as group vice president, North America, Marketing, Sales & Service. Hesterberg will report to Greg Smith, executive vice president of the Americas, effective October 1.

Hesterberg began his Ford career in 1975. In 1982, he moved to Nissan and spent 16 years in various assignments, including Vice President, General Manager, Nissan Division in the US. from 1991 to 1995, and later vice president, Sales, Nissan of Europe. In 1997, Hesterberg was appointed president and chief executive officer of Gulf States Toyota, a private company that imports and distributes Toyota products in the south and central US Hesterberg returned to Ford in 1999 when he joined Ford Europe as vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service.

At Ford of Europe, the company announced two key executive appointments.

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John Fleming, Ford of Europe’s current vice president of Manufacturing, will become its president, effective October 1. He will report to Lewis Booth, Ford of Europe’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Geoff Polites, currently vice president, European Sales Staff, Ford of Europe, will succeed Hesterberg as a corporate vice president and as vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe, effective October 1. Polites, who started his career with Ford in 1970, also served 11 years as a dealer principal at City Ford in Australia. He rejoined Ford in 1999 as president of Ford Australia after selling his interests in City Ford.

Separately, the company announced the election of Antonio Maciel as a company vice president, effective October 1. Maciel continues as president of Ford South America, which he assumed October 2003.