Anning Chen, president and CEO, Ford China - Photo courtesy of Ford.

Anning Chen, president and CEO, Ford China

Photo courtesy of Ford.

Ford has hired a new president and CEO for its China division and made several changes to Asia-Pacific operations as a means to accelerate a return to profitable growth in the region, according to Ford.

Ford China is now elevated to a stand-alone business unit reporting to Ford global headquarters, and has also announced that Anning Chen, an auto executive with experience in China, is rejoining Ford to become president and CEO of Ford China in a newly created position focused on driving sustainable value creation, the automaker has announced.

Peter Fleet, president of Ford Asia Pacific, will facilitate the transition of Chen into his new position as the leader of the Ford operations in China, according to Ford. Fleet will also oversee the establishment of a new international markets business unit, which will initially be comprised of Ford’s existing Asia Pacific businesses outside of China and other markets globally which will be subject of a future announcement.

The moves are designed to accelerate Ford’s return to profitable growth in China, a key pillar of Ford’s global strategy, according to the automaker. Creating a Ford China business unit is designed to allow greater focus on the market, faster decision making, and increased Chinese leadership within the company.

Chen, a 25-year auto industry veteran, returns to Ford as president and CEO of Ford China, effective Nov. 1. He previously served a variety of role for the Automaker between 1992 and 2009. He will lead the company’s operations in Greater China, including all import and joint venture operations. Prior to this position, Chen served as CEO of Chery Automobile, Ltd. and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Chery Jaguar Land Rover, Automotive, China.

At the same time, in creating an International Markets business unit, Ford will capitalize on emerging markets opportunities, reduce bureaucracy, and improve operational fitness, Ford has said. The new leadership and structure for Ford China comes as the company is moving quickly to improve its performance in the market and put in place the building blocks to win the fast changing future.

Ford also made several other announcements regarding changes to the operations, including plans to increase local production for Ford and Lincoln; significant investment in China-led engineering and R&D; the creation of a new joint venture with Zotye for a new line of small battery-electric vehicles; and the formation of strategic alliances with Baidu and Alibaba to explore areas of cooperation in AI, connectivity and digital marketing.