Ford Motor Co. is sending Hau Thai-Tang, director-advanced product creation and the Special Vehicle Team, to Brazil to serve as director-product development for Ford South America Operations.

Largely credited with the wildly successful redesigned ’05 Mustang, Thai-Tang, 40, has enjoyed a quick climb up Ford’s management ladder. Since joining the auto maker in 1988, he has served in various capacities, including Mustang vehicle engineering manager, where he led the development and launch of the ’01 Mustang GT, V-6, Cobra and Bullitt GT models. Previously, he served as vehicle dynamics supervisor and vehicle engineering manager for the ’00 Lincoln LS sedan.

Compared with the situation in North America, Thai-Tang will find business thriving for Ford in South America. In 2006, Ford’s South America Automotive operations reported a full-year pre-tax profit of $551 million, a $152 million increase from 2005. Revenues last year improved to $5.7 billion from $4.4 billion in 2005.

Thai-Tang will work out of Ford’s operations in Camarcari, Bahia, Brazil, and replace David Breedlove, who is retiring after more than 30 years with Ford.

Hermann Salenbauch will fill Thai-Tang’s slot as director-advanced product creation and head of SVT.