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Top global role for Aussie-based Ford engineer

Family ties: Ford’s Australian engineering team, led by Jim Holland, have been testing a modified Ford Fusion in preparation, GoAuto believes, for the 2016 Lincoln MKS. Mr Holland will now replace global chief engineer Kumar Galhotra, who will become Lincoln president.

Australia a key link as latest top Ford appointments focus on engineering, Lincoln

24 Jul 2014

THE Australian-based engineering director of Ford’s Asia-Pacific operations, Jim Holland, is preparing to return to Detroit to take up a newly created position at the top of the American auto giant’s engineering operations.

Succeeding vice-president of engineering Kumar Galhotra, who is moving to a new post as president of Lincoln, Mr Holland has been named vice-president of vehicle component and systems engineering for Ford and Lincoln vehicles worldwide, effective September 1.

Mr Holland has spent the past three years overseeing a team of more than 1500 engineers in Australia, China, India and Taiwan charged with designing, developing and launching a host of vehicles within the Asia-Pacific region and throughout global markets.

As GoAuto has exclusively revealed, the Australian engineering team – under Mr Holland’s direction and part of Mr Galhotra’s current portfolio – have been recently testing a heavily modified US Ford Fusion mid-size sedan that is believed to be a development mule for the forthcoming Lincoln MKS large sedan to be sold in North America and China.

A three-decade veteran with Ford, Mr Holland has also been responsible over the years for the Ranger, Everest, Falcon, Territory and Transit vehicle lines in the region, and, earlier, served as chief engineer on key programs including the current Explorer, Ford’s global hybrid vehicle strategy and the Range Rover (when Land Rover was owned by Ford).

In his new role, which is described as “central to the company’s commitment to developing vehicles with top quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart technology and value”, Mr Holland will report to group vice-president of global product development Raj Nair.

“Jim is one of our most respected engineering leaders inside Ford and, frankly, within the industry,” Mr Nair said.

 center imageLeft: Ford and Lincoln vice-president of vehicle component and systems engineering Jim Holland.

“He has served in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific on a wide variety of product programs and engineering assignments. We look forward to what his passion for product excellence and engineering discipline will bring to our entire vehicle line-up.”

Ford also announced this week that it had hired Ken Washington as chief technical officer and vice-president of research and advanced engineering, replacing Paul Mascarenas who is retiring on October 1.

Reporting to Mr Nair, Dr Washington was most recently vice-president of the Space Technology Advanced Research & Development Laboratories at Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company.

The appointments announced this week are the first key personnel moves made by Ford chief executive Mark Fields since he officially took the reins from Alan Mulally on July 1.

“These changes underscore our commitment to build on the success of our ‘One Ford’ plan by accelerating our pace of progress,” Mr Fields said.

“They also make clear we are serious about Lincoln as a world-class luxury brand and that product excellence and innovation are what will deliver growth and define our entire company going forward.”

Mr Galhotra will become president of Lincoln on September 1 in a move that provides the luxury brand with its own dedicated chief for the first time since Al Giombetti presided over the Lincoln-Mercury division in the middle of last decade.

The appointment removes responsibility for Lincoln from executive vice-president of global sales, service and marketing, Jim Farley, who has overseen the brand since 2012.

According to Ford, the reassignment of Mr Galhotra as the company’s dedicated global Lincoln leader is designed to “build on the brand’s recent product and sales momentum – including its recent expansion into China”.

Reporting directly to Mr Fields, Mr Galhotra will oversee the development of the next generation of Lincoln vehicles and, Ford says, will “connect them with a new generation of Lincoln clients”.

“Now is the right time for the next chapter in accelerating Lincoln as a world-class luxury brand,” Mr Fields said.

“Kumar has more than 25 years of global product and business experience, including leading engineering for all of our Lincoln vehicles today.

“Being our dedicated senior Lincoln leader will serve our clients, employees and dealers extremely well going forward.” As well as the Australian-engineered MKS large car, Lincoln models under development include the forthcoming new-generation MKX mid-size SUV and an all-new MKC compact SUV, both of which owe much of their design to Australian Max Wolff, the former Lincoln design chief who was recently replaced by David Woodhouse but remains in charge of exterior design.

Mr Wolff also led the styling of the MKZ mid-size sedan that went on sale in the US last year and will be a key plank of Lincoln’s establishment in China.

Meantime, Dr Washington’s new role as chief technical officer and head of research and advanced engineering makes him responsible for “development and implementation of the company’s technology strategy and plans – helping to lead Ford’s accelerated drive for innovation throughout all areas of its business”.

“Ken is a dynamic leader and successful innovator with vast experience in research and advanced engineering,” Mr Nair said.

“We look forward to all he will bring to the Ford team as we accelerate our drive for innovation in every part of our business.”

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