• Nov 6, 2007
Rather than have disparate design wings flung across the globe, all speaking in a different tongue, Ford's tasking J Mays with teaching everyone the design equivalent of Esperanto. The new, unified, global design language will replace the "Kinetic Design" that Ford of Europe employs, as well as superseding the "Bold American" motif we get here in the United States. We're not likely to see the Edge pick up any Mondeo themes any time soon, but Mays is looking forward about six years to see the convergence come to fruition on a new generation of vehicles.
Ford is looking inward, trying to divest some of the PAG largesse while simultaneously reinvigorating the core Ford brand. New, cohesive, and most of all exciting design is key to transforming Ford, and Mays will serve as overlord from his London base of operations. While you'd think that something as important as global design for such a huge automaker would be cloistered in the bowels Dearborn, Mays says that Alan Mulally is comfortable with him working remote. We think it will be good to have the design chief living abroad, able to take in a wider sampling of automotive fashion than what we can find here in the US. Besides, we're sure there's an XK in the Mays garage, ready to rip on down to Carnaby Street to study fashionistas in their natural habitat.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]





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  • 31 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ford never gets it done. Before it can do it, Ford is talking about a new plan.

      Putting all your eggs into one basket is hardly ever a good idea. Drop the basket and you have an omelette.


      • 7 Years Ago
      This is good n ews. In a global economy, there is no reason Ford should not have greater design congruence. And maybe we in the states will finally get some of the cool cars (ka, mondeo, etc.) that other parts of the world enjoy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      J Mays is a great designer, and I'm glad to see him getting some more freedom. The global kinetic design language seems like a very good idea for brand identification and communication, two of the most important aspects of automotive design. As far as keeping American cars American, I don't think they're trying to change the Mustang or F series, those just wouldn't work with the kinetic style, and they're easily distinguished as Fords anyway, the least car-savvy person you know could tell you a Mustang or a F-150 was a Ford, some of their other cars, not so much.

      I think this is a great idea to bring some excitement to the design of the American car line, and it could really give Ford the boost they need.

      note: their cars still need work on their interiors, but the newest F-series interior is amazing!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ford needs to FIX it's problems, not just talk about fixing them, as they've done over the past "how many" years.

      The main issue is they've had multiple chances to do so, and haven't. The days of people "giving them a chance" based on what they SAY is going to happen are long-gone. Just because there's a new guy up top doesn't mean it will change. It might, but it might not. Plus, none of that changes anything about the current lineup. I certainly wouldn't buy a Ford today because they *might* have nice products down the road. I do give them credit for the recent gains in quality ratings. But that doesn't change the fact that "new" Focus, underneath it all, is still basically the same car they launched 8 years ago.

      My biggest problem with this whole thing is their unwillingness to bring over products which are clearly better than the U.S. offerings. And yes, while many people have only seen the new Focus or Mondeo online, the've still seen them, and they look better. And if you HAVE had the chance to get to Europe (or merely drive around Dearborn), you've seen them in real life, and they are better. Ford just makes excuses for not bringing the Euro Focus over. First it was something about engineering to U.S. crash standards. But then the Mazda3 debuted in the U.S.--guess what? Same platform. So that excuse is gone. Then they blamed cost, stating that it would have to be priced so high that nobody would buy it. I once again present the Mazda3. It is priced competitively vs. the Focus, yet is a better vehicle. Ford could have brought that Euro Focus here, they CHOSE not to. My guess is they make more money building & selling the old one. More power to them if that's their choice, but they shouldn't expect to be praised for it, nor should they expect people to stop complaining about not bringing the good one here.

      Regarding the Explorer...really? Yes, it is the best-selling BOF SUV, but what does that really mean? Besides putting a bunch of cash on it, or offering dirt-cheap employee leases to move them. Sales have been neck-and-neck with TrailBlazer over the past few years (which also relies on deep discounts), does that make TrailBlazer just as good? So they had to sub-segment the SUV segment to retain sales "leadership". There are not many competitors left in that dying portion of the SUV segment. So aside from a stale design (hardly changed from 2002, despite the 2006 "redesign"), it features worst-in-class standard hp, AND worst-in-class fuel economy. How do you achieve worst-in-class on both hp AND MPG? That's one example of how it falls short.
      • 7 Years Ago
      He has been at Ford for a while now and hasn't done much to make their cars look any better. What makes anyone think he is going to turn things around in the design and styling aspect? I think he is trying to justify his job.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The last time Ford HQ enforced a "unified style" on the Australian Falcon we had the AU series Falcon, that plunged in sales and is considered the ugliest Falcon ever designed.

      No thanks. A global theme will result in a look that no one likes.

      Dan
      • 7 Years Ago
      Forget about design.

      Give us the Interceptor.

      Fix the front end, and i'll buy one. Keep the hood flat, add side drops to the hood, fix the face, kill the three bars.

      Don't touch the rear end.

      And change the logo. No more blue oval, just script.
      • 7 Years Ago
      With the spectacular and cutting edge job he did on the 500 and Freestyle, I'm sure we can all be very excited about his stewardship of a global design language.

      I've been far more impressed with what Peter Horbury has done with the initial work on Lincoln, etc. There is an elegance and interesting use of form that was completely lacking in the stuff Mays was credited with.

      And who exactly birthed the new Navigator? I assumed it would look fine on the road, but....yikes! Not so much.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Putting aside whether or not J (I always worry about someone who is so narcassitic that he chooses to go by a "stage name") Mays can break from his derivitive styling roots to lead an entirely new global approach to Ford styling, does the company have enough time and financial resources to stay the course until the next wave of product hits the market?

      Ford is bleeding money and market share so horribly it might not be a viable business if and when the next six year design/development cycle comes to fruition. Hopefully, Mulally recognizes this reality and is also pushing his people for some quicker shorter term solutions to Ford's dearth of new car product (e.g. an American Mondeo) to bridge the gap and excite buyers before the next generation of J Mays design is delivered.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm not sure J. Mays is up to the task, but it's a good idea to have a global cohesive design strategy. Think about the parts sharing and economy of scale it would bring, along with a global "look" that becomes instantly recognizable as the Ford brand.

      I believe Ford NA will always have it's Mustangs and F150's that will be specifically for it's home market, but there is no reason Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury shouldn't all be world brands that cater to the Lower End and Specialty Cars with Ford, mid price luxury Mercury, and upscale exclusive Lincoln. It just makes sense to me and it's been far too long in coming. Hopefully not too late.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can't say that this is a good thing.
      I'll take a wait-and-see approach here.
      Yes, a lot of designs for Europe look great and would work well in the US. As would some of the Asian designs.
      I am very much in favor of having shared platforms.

      But I am concerned that Ford would focus too much on the "world" cars and forget that the majority of the profit-generating customers are in the US. Specifically, we make a boatload on trucks and SUV's and they are mostly a US-consumer product. Hence, they need to be designed for the US market.

      I guess my hope is that this structure will create some flair and great design for models that can be global, but will allow for region-specific vehicles to be designed locally.

      We've been burned by the Escort and Contour as "world" cars. I hope we don't flop again.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Escort was not a true world car. The US version was different (and not as good) as the European one. The Contour was an anamoly. Ford should have known that dumpy design and tiny back seat wouldn't work here. The second and third generation Mondeos would have sold fine here, but by then Ford had moved on. The 1999 Focus was a successful world car. Did very well here for years. So it is all in the execution. Everyone everywhere wants good quality, stylish cars.

        This J Mays stuff is more of the same. Every couple of years it seems, Ford is going to integrate its designs and make all Fords identifiable as a Ford. They start on a theme and never ever complete the transition. I will wait and see. Ford has good designers, but the designs often get too watered down. The Ford kinetic look is just fine. In six years time though, they will need another look to be competitive. So this sounds like talking to get something Ford in print. Drivel about nothing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't know,
      I love the Fusion and Edge a lot, and although I like the Mondeo styling a lot, I can't say theat I like it better. That's all I really like from EU.
      Australia has NOTHING that I like. So, careful there J.
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