Ford said Thursday Alan Mulally will remain as president and chief executive through at least 2014, as Americas chief Mark Fields was promoted to chief operating officer, putting him in line to succeed Mullaly.

“Ford Motor Co. is further strengthening and developing its leadership team while continuing to deliver the One Ford plan for profitable growth," the No. 2 U.S. automaker said.

Mulally, 67, will continue to lead the automaker's long-term development strategy, it said.

The company named Shields as chief operating officer effective Dec. 1.

Fields will be responsible for all business operations and report to Mulally. He has been executive vice president and president of Ford's Americas operation for the past seven years.

Ford (IW 500/6) recruited Mulally from Boeing in 2006 as the company was struggling against competition from Toyota.

Mulally led Ford through the financial crisis without seeking a government-backed bankruptcy and bailout, unlike General Motors and Chrysler, steering the company back to profit.

The announcement came two days after Ford posted a record third-quarter profit of $1.6 billion as strong growth in North America offset major losses in Europe.

Ford has now posted pre-tax profits for 13 consecutive quarters as it reaps the rewards of major restructuring and product revamps in North America. But troubled Europe remains a dark cloud and the company's unit there is projected to post a $1.5 billion loss this year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012