Mark Fields has been promoted to the role of chief operating officer at Ford.
Industry observers have tipped Fields, who has headed Ford of America, to be the carmaker's next global CEO when Alan Mulally exits.
Ford has confirmed that Mulally, 67, will remain in the post through 2014.
Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO at Ford of Europe, has been promoted to executive vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Fields has been with Ford since 1989 in various roles, including heading its Mazda, Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe operations.