David Thursfield, executive vice-president of Ford, president of international operations and chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe, will oversee operations in the interim.
Thursfield said: 'Martin contributed to our growth in Europe under challenging conditions. As we move forward we will build upon that foundation. The Ford of Europe team remains committed to improving our financial results and to delivering outstanding products.'
However, Leach's departure has been viewed by analysts as a result of continued losses at the company and a falling year-on-year market share in Europe during the first six months of 2003. Thursfield insisted that the company has grown its market share overall since 2000, improved customer satisfaction, reduced product age and cut costs.
He added that he expects the improvements to continue and the company is making extra cost reductions to offset current market conditions.