During the Ford concept car ride at the Dearborn Development Center, Executive Director of Design for the Americas Peter Horbury was on hand to discuss Ford's design direction. Autoblog got to chat with the man who helped reinvent Volvo about what the design team was trying to achieve with this year's concepts.

Autoblog: We've got the three concepts from this year here today. Why don't you give us a little bit of an overview of what the design direction is with these vehicles and what you're trying to achieve this year.

Peter Horbury: Well obviously, three quite different vehicles, but I suppose one common thread is that they're all American in some way. The Airstream being the combined effort between two iconic brands of America, one that put America on the road and one that let them stay there, and the Airstream is sort of just looking back to those famous days when – pioneering days, and I think they very well matched brands that gave us a very successful concept. We got an inspiration from elsewhere, as well. If you look inside, the movie 2001 was very much inspirational in the design of the interior.

On the MKR here we have what will be the look of Lincoln in the future, and all the design cues on that are taken from various Lincolns in history but presented in a very modern way, it's not a retro design, but it reflects historic Lincolns from the 40s, 50s and the 60s, so that really was to show the direction of Lincoln design, for the next few vehicles anyway. On the Interceptor of course that really again American and it was a representation of the iconic sedans of the 60s, Ford Galaxie in particular, that's not repeating the design but just enough of the design cues from those cars of those days in a very modern representation. So it's America on the road from the Ford Motor Company and with the Lincoln showing the future of Lincoln.

Continue reading what Peter had to say about about the concepts after the jump.

Related GalleryFord Interceptor concept drive

Related GalleryLincoln MKR concept drive

Related GalleryFord Airstream concept drive

AB: On the Interceptor, you've got the three-bar grill on the front. Can we except to see some of the other design elements of that vehicle on some future Ford vehicles?

PH: Well, as with all concepts, they are concepts but they are serious in a way that we sort of experiment in public with these ideas and if people react positively and they have with all three of these vehicles. There's been tremendous response. It would silly not to bring that in the direction of certain ideas, not necessarily the entire cars as it is, but certain elements of it, which prove popular with the public.

AB: The Crown Victoria has been around in more or less its current incarnation, for a fair amount of time now, (that's the understatement of the week!) so would it be reasonable to expect at sometime in the not-too-distant future we might see a updated vehicle of that type incorporating elements of the interceptor.

PH: Well I can't comment on certain products in the future, but like I said the Interceptor is a look that captured the essence of Ford. We searched into Ford's history and looking through the common elements that appeared more than once over the past 50 years or so and some of those elements, the three-bar grill is part of a complete front end look with the headlamps and the grille encapsulated in one shape. The tail lamps are very reminiscent of those... we call them the squircles, we used to see on lots of Fords, time after time. The interior is are very much part of that on the Interceptor. We obviously look at those things for future new products and it would be a waste of time if we did lots of concepts that had no meaning.

AB: What about the Airstream? I understand that part of the concept of the Airstream was to demonstrate some of the design flexibility of the HySeries platform affords, not having to have the power train in the front. Ford not that long ago exited the minivan market. Could we expect to see some of the design elements of the Airstream show up in a future vehicle? Would you incorporate it into maybe a future crossover type vehicle?

PH: I think it would probably be the right place for it. As you said the powertrains of the future allow all sorts of different designs. New limitations but new opportunities. But I would say this a very exciting looking vehicle but like I said, it owes a lot to Airstream paradigms and they themselves were always exciting. I'm British and you know, to me they were the essence of American traveling, the Airstream trailer. We worked with Airstream, we did in secret of courser and I think it has turned out to be a very interesting design, the window forms and the doors from the aircraft inspired trailers that inspired the vehicle.

AB: The Airstream largely got overshadowed in Detroit because of the introduction of the Chevy Volt, but in many ways I think a lot of people were not crazy about the design of it, but certainly from a technical standpoint it's got some very interesting features.

PH: I think if anything, we didn't play up the powertrain enough. The design overtook it on the stand and I think in retrospect we would have been better off making more of the real news beneath the skin which was displayed to the side. And I think in hindsight that was, even if I'm the head of design, I would have given up a little bit of the limelight for that attention.

AB: Maybe at least explain that idea. Part the purpose of the design was to show the show the flexibility that you can achieve.

PH: You're absolutely right.

AB: Well thank you very much for your time.