Ford brand plans global design theme
North American design chief Peter Horbury and European design chief Martin Smith are working on one common design palette for Ford-brand cars. The new design language eventually will replace Ford of Europe's current kinetic design theme and Ford North America's three-bar grille introduced with the 2006 Fusion sedan, said J Mays, Ford Motor's group vice president of design.
"We feel we'll be able to get to a common design language that's bold, as it should be for the American market, and is absolutely applicable to the European market as well," Mays said.
The shared design initiative is an outgrowth of new CEO Mulally's mandate to improve product development efficiency. Around the world, many Ford-brand cars will have the same exterior sheet metal, greenhouses and interiors Ford Motor global product chief Derrick Kuzak said in early January.
Mays said the work of merging Ford-brand design will take as long as seven years.
When complete, "you should be able to get off a plane anywhere in the world and say, 'Oh, yeah, there's a Ford,'" Mays said.
Ford's designers say they will take care to satisfy more than the lowest common denominator.
"The critical thing is not to design a car that would only sell in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," said Horbury, who is English.
That challenge is helped by shifting preferences for vehicle size. European cars are creeping up in size, and the difference between markets can now be measured in millimeters instead of inches, Mays said.
Ford will study Saturn, which is rebadging some of General Motors' European Opel-brand vehicles, Mays said. He also expressed admiration for Honda's global products.
Kuzak said customizing Ford-brand cars to the tastes of their respective markets is imperative for the "one Ford" initiative to succeed. That means vehicles will be tuned for local roads. He said they'll also need distinct front-end design, probably including separate grilles. The current three-bar grille in the United States could evolve as part of the plan.
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