Source: Automotive News
DETROIT — With Lincoln again on the upswing, Kumar Galhotra, the mechanical engineer put in charge of the tarnished brand three years ago, has vaulted into one of Ford Motor Co.’s most critical roles as the automaker tries to shake perceptions that it is falling behind its rivals.
CEO Jim Hackett last week appointed Galhotra as Ford’s chief marketing officer amid a management shake-up that included the departure of four top executives. Galhotra’s elevation to oversee the company’s global marketing efforts speaks to Lincoln’s progress as well as the need for Ford to burnish its image the way its luxury brand has done with the help of celebrity spokesman Matthew McConaughey.
“Kumar has done an extraordinary job in Lincoln’s revival,” Hackett said on a conference call to discuss Ford’s third-quarter earnings. “We’ve hit new share marks with that. We have customer satisfaction ratings that I don’t think anyone in the industry would have believed.”
In his marketing role, Galhotra — who also will remain president of Lincoln — will be charged with “shifting investments towards product categories that play to Ford’s strengths, and developing more effective brand communications including digital services, emobility and autonomy,” Ford said in a statement.
Hackett said Galhotra, 51, will still devote much of his time to Lincoln, which the automaker has made a point of separating from Ford Motor. “Don’t assume that we’ve broken stride with that discipline,” he said.
Galhotra, who was Ford’s vice president of engineering for a year after stints at Mazda’s headquarters in Japan and in product development for the Asia Pacific region, is one of several executives promoted last week as Hackett tries to position Ford to address problems more quickly. He will take over marketing responsibilities from Stephen Odell, 62, who is retiring after 37 years at the automaker.
Ford said its heads of global quality, strategy and human resources also will depart by year end. The moves come as U.S. industry sales slow and Ford works to develop mobility services.