When Ford Motor Co. hired Wolfgang Reitzle to lead its luxury car group, observers saw plenty of potential conflict with Ford's top product planner, Richard Parry-Jones.
But Parry-Jones, while not ignoring differences, downplays any friction between the two.
'It is an unholy alliance of soulmates,' says Parry-Jones. 'He is a car nut like I am.
'I feel enormously encouraged that I will have another advocate for doing some of the things that we need to do in the area of technology, product and in building our engineering competence.
'It would be disappointing if we had identical views. But we are on the same wavelength.'
Indeed, Parry-Jones said he encouraged Ford President Jac Nasser to pursue negotiations with Reitzle, who resigned the No. 2 job at BMW AG in February. 'I said, 'if you can get him, get him,' ' Parry-Jones said.
Reitzle is a hard-charging executive credited with boosting BMW's reputation for fine automobiles. At Ford, he is chairman of Jaguar Cars Ltd. and Volvo Cars. He also has 'lead responsibility' for Aston Martin and Lincoln, a job Ford has not clearly defined.
As product-development boss, Parry-Jones has developed several cars that now are part of Reitzle's domain, including the 2000 Lincoln LS, the Jaguar S-Type and the Jaguar X400, a BMW 3-series fighter due in about two years.
Disagreements are to be expected, Parry-Jones said.
'If there are no disagreements, you suppress creativity. You have to have different views,' he said. 'The key between Dr. Reitzle and me is do we have the same end goal. If we have, we will have good constructive discussions.'
Ford has not spelled out the extent of Reitzle's authority in product development. But an organizational chart does not always reflect how a company truly operates, Parry-Jones said.
'It depends on the people,' he said. 'My attitude with Dr. Reitzle is build a strong personal relationship and the rest of it will take care of itself.'