Ford has named Mark Fields the company's new COO, clearing the path for the executive to eventually become CEO.

Ford has appointed Mark Fields to the position of Chief Operating Officer, laying the path for the current president of the Americas to eventually succeed Alan Mulally as the company's Chief Executive.

Fields, who had been previously tipped to eventually fill Mulally's shoes, will take over as Ford's COO on December 1. Joe Hinrichs, current group vice president and president of Asia Pacific Africa, will take over Fields' former role as president of the Americas.

Although Fields is now the clear successor to Mulally, he might have to be the CEO in waiting for a couple more years. Ford also announced that Mulally will remain the company's leading man until "at least 2014."

"Today marks an important next step in the profitable growth of the Ford Motor Company and the appointment of key leaders who will help us continue to make progress on our One Ford plan," Bill Ford said. "The strength of our people and stability of our team are competitive advantages for Ford. We are fortunate to have Alan's continued leadership as well as talented senior leaders throughout our company who are developing and working together and delivering on our plan."

Other notable executive changes announced today include Jim Farley's new title of vice president of Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln. Already a group vice president, Farley will now be specifically tasked with "working together with the company's business units and functions on the re-invention of Lincoln as a world-class, global luxury brand."

Ford is trying to reinvent its Lincoln brand as a global premium player, including a planned launch in China within the next few years.