May 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Ford names new designer for Europe

Ford Motor Co. named Joel Piaskowski to head the automakerís design team for Europe as the company says itís on track to return to a profit in the region in 2015.

Piaskowski, 45, who has 24 years of international automotive experience, will succeed Martin Smith, 64, on July 1, the company said in a statement. Piaskowski, currently head of Fordís Strategic Concepts Group in the U.S., led the team that created automakerís new Mustang and F-150 pickup.

He will lead the design of all concept and production vehicles in Europe and support Fordís global design initiatives. He previously worked at Mercedesís advanced design center in California from 2009 to 2010.

Auto sales in Europe are growing this year after falling to a two-decade low in 2013. Fordís Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally last week said he is ďvery bullishĒ on the European car market. The company has said it expects a smaller loss there this year and a return to profitability next year. The second- biggest U.S. automakerís pretax operating losses in Europe narrowed to $194 million during the first quarter from a loss of $425 million last year.

Smith, who led the European design team for the past 10 years, has elected to work on a global project studying the future direction of Ford design. He will work closely with Moray Callum, vice president of Design at Ford until his retirement at year end, the company said.

Ford shares rose 0.9 percent to $16.31 at the close in New York. The Dearborn, Michigan-based companyís stock has added 5.7 percent this year.