Motor Co. is committed to “offering more daring design” in its lineup, Chairman and CEO Bill Ford declared recently — and the message is resounding in the auto maker's design studios.
Pat Schiavone, director of design-North America, saystop brass is giving its designers more freedom than ever before, and the lack of restrictions soon will begin to appear in upcoming Ford vehicles.
“I can't believe how much freedom we have right now,” Schiavone says. “It's scary. There's no more design by committee, not at all. People are asking us what we want to do, and why, and (saying) go for it. The last thing anybody wants right now is anything boring.”
The auto maker has been criticized in recent years for a lack of exciting designs. However, there are indications Ford may have turned the corner. The recently launched Ford Fusion, for example, has been well received and is selling at a rate of about 10,000 units a month.
Other Ford vehicles, however, have not been so warmly received. The Ford Five Hundred sedan saw a 17.6% falloff in March sales, according to Ward's data, and already is slated for a facelift. The expectation is the larger sedan will incorporate design cues from the Fusion.
Schiavone declines to confirm the design direction for the Five Hundred but says, “We are working on something, and I would love to see the Five Hundred be as exciting as the Fusion.”
Bill Ford's assertion the auto maker will be more daring with its designs is a move in the right direction, says Jim Sanfilippo, a senior industry analyst with Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc.
“I have a personal belief that nobody in the world wants to be mundane; everybody wants to look good,” Sanfilippo says, adding that Mark Fields, Ford president-The Americas, is just the man for the job.
“Fields has made it very clear that this idea of cultural alignment is going to permeate his new world,” Sanfilippo says. “That is Fields' vision of what America is, which is: You cannot be bold without taking a risk.”