DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand, undergoing a $1 billion overhaul, will move forward with a new design director at the helm after quietly replacing Max Wolff.
Wolff, hired from General Motors four years ago, remains at Lincoln, in charge of exterior design of the brand’s models, said Stephane Cesareo, a company spokesman. David Woodhouse, who joined Ford in 1999 from GM to head Ford’s former European luxury lines, is his successor.
The change was apparently made in December, according to Woodhouse’s LinkedIn profile. Ford didn’t announce the reshuffle, though the company heralded Wolff’s hiring from GM’s Cadillac luxury line in December 2010.
In a statement at the time, Ford cited Wolff for bringing a “fresh perspective that will challenge us internally and take Lincoln to new levels of prestige.”
Ford made the move because more design resources were needed to handle the rapid redesign of Lincoln’s product line, which includes four new models in four years, Cesareo said after a briefing on Lincoln’s growth plans. Ford didn’t announce the move because the automaker no longer issues a press release for job promotions below the vice president level, Cesareo said.
“Much like we’ve expanded our global marketing team, design needs that too,” said Sam Locricchio, another Lincoln spokesman. “More bodies and more resources dedicated solely to Lincoln is always the goal to get the brand where it needs to be.”
Ford CEO Alan Mulally is trying to revive Lincoln to get a larger slice of the lucrative luxury car market. Lincoln’s annual U.S. sales last year had fallen by 65 percent since peaking in 1990 at 231,660.
“This is a sign that what they’re doing isn’t working,” said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst and former product planner at Ford. “If they’re trying to compete with Mercedes and BMW, they’re not in the same galaxy. Lincoln doesn’t have a memorable and distinctive design signature yet.”
As chief designer of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, Woodhouse previously oversaw the styling of Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Volvo, the luxury brands Mulally sold after he arrive at Ford in 2006 from Boeing Co.
Woodhouse was previously director of Lincoln strategy from July to December 2013 and he ran Ford’s advanced design studio in California from 2004 to 2009. He was assistant chief designer at GM in 1998 and 1999.