Chris Theodore, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president of advanced product creation, has overseen the fastest vehicle project in Ford's history, the GT sports car. The $125,000 LeMans-influenced supercar will come to market next year after two years of development. Theodore spoke to Staff Reporter Richard Truett at the Management Briefing Seminars last week in Traverse City, Mich.
The GT is coming out after just two years of development. Because of Ford Motor Co.'s past quality issues, will consumers be suspicious of any Ford vehicle that comes out that quickly?
I can understand where that concern might come from. This is a low-volume, hand-crafted niche vehicle. It's not like there's one going down the line every 47 seconds. We kept that car very simple. There will be more customers than cars built. If you drove one of the prototypes, you'd see that it is better than production Ferraris.
Ford President Nick Scheele struggled a bit when asked to define the Mercury and Lincoln brands. Would you take a crack at it?
Some people don't get this. But the difference between Ford and Mercury is the same as the Toyota Camry and Lexus ES 300 and the Volkswagen Passat and the Audi A4. When you start to take a look at those, you'll see a difference in the selection in materials, a little more emphasis on style.
Why has Ford spent a lot of money on interiors for future vehicles?
It's not so much money. It's just attention to detail. We are putting as much as we can into interiors. That's what the customers like.