Ford CEO Alan Mulally has announced plans to retire on July 1st. He will be replaced by Ford COO Mark Fields.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has announced plans to retire on July 1st.

Mulally was appointed Ford CEO back in September of 2006 and was a newcomer to the automotive industry as he had worked at Boeing since 1969. While his appointment surprised some onlookers, he eventually become one of the most successful and respected automotive CEOs as he lead Ford to "19 consecutive quarters of profitability, developed the strongest product lineup in Ford’s history and embarked upon the company’s most ambitious global expansion in the past half century."

In a statement, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said "Under Alan’s leadership, Ford not only survived the global economic crisis, it emerged as one of the world’s strongest auto companies. We always will be grateful to Alan for his leadership, compelling vision and for fostering a culture of working together that will serve our company for decades to come.”

Mulally will be replaced by Mark Fields who has been the company's COO since December of 2012. Bill Ford says the decision will pave the way for the company's continued success as "Mark has transformed several of our operations around the world into much stronger businesses during his 25 years at Ford. Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO.”

Looking back at his career, Mulally said “It has been an honor to serve and contribute to creating a viable, profitably growing company for the good of everyone associated with the Ford Motor Company. By working together with all of our stakeholders around the world, we now are accelerating Henry Ford’s original vision to open the highways to all mankind." The executive went on to say "Ford’s future is so bright, and Mark – supported by an experienced and dedicated senior leadership team – is absolutely the right leader to continue to deliver on our compelling vision."

Gallery: Ford CEO Alan Mulally to retire, will be replaced by Mark Fields