Ford Motor named two designers to shape the future of its North American product line.
Pat Schiavone and Ed Golden move directly under design chief J Mays. For the most part, Golden will be in charge of cars. Schiavone will be in charge of trucks. Mercury's two "co-chief" designers have new posts. (See box, Page 56.)
Golden had been in charge of designing Ford brand cars; Schiavone was chief designer of Ford's Tough Truck and Outfitter brands, which means SUVs and pickups, including the upcoming 2004 F series.
The reshuffling follows other changes: this summer's return of Lincoln Mercury to Dearborn, Mich., and February's realignment of product development into several distinct groups, based on types of vehicles.
The structure will replace a previous arrangement that had design chiefs for the Lincoln, Mercury and Ford brands.
As McGovern leaves, Lincoln's design direction is a work in progress, at best. The parent company is short on cash, and a resurgent Cadillac and world-class import brands are eager to snatch Lincoln customers.
McGovern, 46, came to Ford through its purchase of Land Rover in early 1999. By August of that year, he had been called to California to steer Lincoln and Mercury design. At the time, Lincoln was part of the automaker's Premier Automotive Group, which included Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.
With his pointed cowboy boots and his curly, shoulder-length hair (trimmed last year at the request of a girlfriend), McGovern cut a striking figure, even in the black-shirt world of automotive designers.
"Gerry I think was fine with Lincoln in the way that we were forming it out in California as a separate business unit, not in the Detroit area," says a person close to McGovern. "He had free rein to do his own thing. But that is all changed now, and I don't think he fits there anymore."
In March 2002, the grand vision painted by engineers was that by mid-decade, the first in a series of new rear-wheel Lincoln cars would bow to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
But later that year, as part of Ford's massive effort to slash costs, the automaker said that Lincoln and Mercury would return from California to Dearborn.