DETROIT -- Lincoln’s new design chief will need to hit the floor running.
“We have cars to design and a cycle plan so we are going to have to get off our duffs and get it going,” said J Mays, Ford Motor Co.’s global design chief.
Max Wolff was hired from Cadillac to change the look of the Lincoln lineup. He joined the company Jan. 3 and was named Lincoln design director.
Last year Ford said Lincoln would introduce seven new or significantly revamped vehicles in the next four years.
Mays said a concept representing the future styling direction of Lincoln would likely be introduced some time next year.
The Lincoln brand has struggled. Lincoln’s U.S. vehicle sales last year rose nearly 4 percent, to 85,828 units, in an overall market that increased 11 percent over 2009. Lincoln’s 2010 sales rise was due to its SUV and two crossovers. Lincoln’s car sales dropped nearly 5 percent.
Meanwhile, Cadillac vehicle sales jumped nearly 35 percent last year, to 146,925.
Mays said Wolff was hired “to offer us a change in direction to a certain degree.”
“What I want to do with Max this coming quarter is let him get his feet under him, which is not easy at Ford. It is a big company, and he will have a lot of inputs from not only myself but Jim Farley and the marketing team. We have to get his head around the entire brand,” said Mays, who was interviewed Monday at the Detroit auto show.
Wolff will need to determine the size of his design team, Mays said.
“I want Max to do an assessment based on the cycle plan and what he thinks he needs. He will come back; I will lay it out with probably less budget than he thinks he wants, and then we will have a look,” Mays said.
A small crossover?
One of the seven new Lincolns is expected to be a small crossover based on Ford’s global compact-car platform. The platform is shared by the redesigned 2012 Ford Focus and Escape.
Wolff, 38, is a native of Australia. He had been design director for Cadillac exteriors since 2007. At General Motors, he held positions in design that included a stint in South Korea at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology. There, Wolff helped design the Chevrolet Cruze compact.
He started his career at GM Holden, GM’s Australia unit, in 1998. c