LOS ANGELES - Were you thinking of trumping your neighbor's Mercedes M class with a Jaguar sport-utility? Stop dreaming, says Vic Doolan, a top executive at the Premier Automotive Group.
Ford Motor Co.'s luxury group has honed the missions for each of its brands. Some ambitious ideas kicked around in the past - such as a Jaguar sport-utility or Volvo performance car - have been deleted from product plans, said Doolan, executive director for North American marketing and distribution strategy for Premier.
'Jaguar can be the quintessential epitome of art and performance, which doesn't need sport-utilities and estate wagons. That's Volvo's job. We are going to clearly demarcate who does what. Duplication and substitution will be eliminated,' Doolan said.
Speaking Tuesday, March 7, to the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles, Doolan said Premier executives led by Wolfgang Reitzle are looking closely at how vehicles fit the brand promise and whether they fit every regional market.
However, that doesn't mean sharing of platforms and component sets between the different marques is out of the question. And that means future Volvos might ride on Ford platforms. Ford also will share component sets that the customer should not notice, such as wiring harnesses.
Doolan said, 'Platform sharing allows us to have a Jaguar two-seat open car, a Volvo four-seat open car and a Lincoln large open car like the 1963 Continental. We can cover the whole market without diluting the brands. But the styling, chassis and powertrains should be unique.'
In trying to fill the customer's garage with every type of luxury vehicle, Mercedes-Benz is stretching its engineering talent too thin, he said.
Volkswagen has shared too many platforms and components with too many brands, and as a result has 'blurred the brands,' he said.
LINCOLN'S GLOBAL APPEAL
While not saying Lincoln will expand outside North America, Doolan said the brand has expansion potential. Ford has been wishy-washy as to whether Lincoln will become a global brand. But Doolan's comments would indicate Lincoln is looking to move to Europe soon, hawking itself as 'American luxury.'
And what does Lincoln's 'American luxury' tag stand for? Doolan sees it as more informal - a candlelight dinner on the beach compared to a stuffy European party.
'It should be warm, inviting and elegant, with easy driving, not like the cramped and frenetic German cars. I don't see why Lincoln cannot be a global brand when the United States is the leader in technology, marketing and innovation,' Doolan said.
Doolan recalled his days at BMW, noting Germans often picked Harley-Davidson motorcycles over home-market BMWs, even though the latter were better built.
'BMW makes a good motorcycle, but people bought the Harley to be part of American culture,' Doolan said. 'In Germany, there is a greater appreciation for things American than things British or French.'