One of the nicest guys in the business, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president of research, William F. Powers, has retired from the company.

Taking his place? Gerhard Schmidt, curiously jettisoning a decade in the world's greatest job: director of powertrain development of BMW AG.

Not so curious, really. Mr. Schmidt is a longstanding friend of Wolfgang Reitzle, a fellow who also used to have the initials BMW on his business card and now runs the Premier Automotive Group (PAG) for Ford.

Mr. Schmidt did BMW's first diesel and overlorded the development of its current V-8 engines. He takes his new post at Ford sometime later this year.