Claude Lobo, design director at Ford Motor Co.'s small-vehicle center in Europe, led design work on the Escort's successor, the Focus. He was interviewed by Georg Auer of Automotive News Europe.
How is the Focus different from your previous world car?
Mondeo was not really a landmark in the history of design. It is a well-built car, but design-wise it is no-where: good technology in a bad wrapper. We had a different management when it was laid down. Perhaps they lacked courage to create something more advanced or did not trust Ford as a leading car company.
How was New Edge design born?
New Edge was developed in Europe ... to simplify production while giving the cars a significant character and better quality. The production people had trouble keeping the sheet metal in place in their presses, so we design people said, 'Let us add a line here and there. That will help.'
Other companies are now bringing out 'edge' cars.
Some of our competitors have misunderstood New Edge and now bring out cars with a lot of sharp edges. But that is not our idea.
Can a director of design really influence the final design, given all the regional wishes?
That is what he is paid to do. The director of design is responsible for communicating his vision of the design. He must be the driving force to bring it to realization.
How does a design director communicate his vision to top management?
There has to be full cooperation between top management and the design director, a great amount of trust. Otherwise you will shy away from good, modern, advanced solutions. If you want to go the safe way in our business, you cannot advance. If the product is good, it will sell well all around the world, just as good music, well played, will sell well everywhere.