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Alan Mulally, president and CEO of the Ford Motor Co., left, executive chairman Bill Ford, center, and COO Mark Fields stand next to the new Ford F-150 truck at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Ford Motor Co. will introduce Mark Fields as its new CEO on Thursday, to replace Alan Mulally who has led the automaker since 2006.

Fields has been the No. 2 executive at Ford under Mulally, rising to the level of chief operating officer.

The 53-year-old Fields will take over for the 68-year-old Mulally in July.

Mulally is credited with saving the company from financial ruin after Ford hired him away from Boeing in 2006. Under his leadership, the company has posted 19 consecutive quarterly profits since the worldwide recession that began some time in 2008.

In orchestrating that transformation, Mulally relied heavily on a strategy that Fields drew up in 2005, when Ford's big North American division was losing money, burdened by too many factories and lacklustre car designs. Fields's plan called for closing factories, laying off thousands of workers and using Ford's design expertise in Europe to build better cars that could be sold globally.

"Every job the company's ever asked him to do, he's done a really good job of it," said executive chairman Bill Ford, a descendant of company founder Henry Ford.

With files from The Associated Pres