Ford has named Stephen Odell president and chief executive officer of Volvo Car Corporation, replacing Fredrik Arp, who has decided to leave the Swedish automaker.

From 1 October, Odell, 53, will be responsible for Volvo's global operations at its headquarters in Gothenburg "and lead the company's drive toward sustained profitability through continued restructuring and the accelerated development of high-quality, fuel-efficient and safe vehicles in the premium end of the market", Ford said.

There has been speculation recently that Ford would sell Volvo, and reports of talks with Renault and Chinese automakers, but the blue oval remained adamant Volvo was not on the block.

Odell, who played a key role in Ford of Europe's resurgence as chief operating officer, will report to Lewis Booth, executive vice president of Ford Motor Company and chairman of Volvo Car Corporation, who will continue to oversee strategic direction.

Alan Mulally, Ford's president and CEO, said: "Given his strong track record at Ford, Jaguar and Mazda, the time is now right for Stephen to take up this new challenge at Volvo. I believe that Stephen is the right person - together with Lewis Booth and the Volvo Cars management team - to take Volvo forward and to return the business to sustainable profitability."

Booth thanked Arp for his leadership of Volvo over the past three years, a period in which the carmaker reduced costs and strengthened its product line despite a difficult business environment and challenges presented by adverse currency exchange rates and other external factors.

"Fredrik has steered the Volvo team through some difficult times since joining the company three years ago. His wide experience in business has been a strong asset in helping to develop and implement Volvo's plan to improve its business results.

"Fredrik has decided that now is the right time to hand over to a new president and CEO, Stephen Odell, who will lead the Volvo team through the next stage of its recovery."

Odell said he was excited to lead Volvo at an important time in the company's history.

"We have a restructuring plan in place that will help to deliver a more competitive business and that enables Volvo to continue to build upon its core strengths.

Volvo will adopt a more stand-alone approach within Ford Motor Company, while still leveraging product development and purchasing synergies with other Ford operations."

Before he was appointed chief operating officer of Ford of Europe in April 2008 responsible for product development, manufacturing, purchasing, and marketing, sales and service operations, Odell was vice president of marketing, sales and service for nearly three years.

Prior to that, he held several senior level positions at Mazda from 2000 to 2005. From 1997 to 2000, he was vice president, marketing and sales, Jaguar North America. The Londoner joined Ford of Britain in 1980 as a graduate trainee.