Following hot on the heels of reports that Volkswagen designer Derek Jenkins had defected to Mazda to head up its North American design office comes news that the Japanese automaker has replaced its global design chief, Laurens van der Acker, with Ikuo Maeda.

Van der Acker joins Volvo's Steve Mattin in leaving the design division of Ford's foreign operations, but Mazda's styling department should be left in capable hands with Maeda-san at the wheel. Maeda's been with the Zoom-Zoom company since April 1982, and has held a number of influential design positions within the Mazda hierarchy, having headed up its Design Strategic Studio and Yokohama design studio in the Eighties before moving to Detroit to work for parent company Ford. Maeda would then return to Mazda in 2000, where he spearheaded the design of the RX-8 and new Mazda2. In his new position atop the Mazda design totem-poll, Maeda will be working out of the company's headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan.

[Source: Mazda]