• Nov 12th 2007 at 7:05PM
  • 41
It's been no secret that part of Ford's turnaround plan (or we calling it Bold Moves anymore?) is to reunite its North American and European operations with more platform sharing and a common design language. With product life cycles being as long as they are in this industry, none of that will happen overnight. In fact, J Mays, Ford's group vice president of design and chief creative officer, told Automotive News that a single uniting global design language for both sides of the pond will be ready in about six years.
The main stumbling block is that Ford vehicles in North American and those sold in Europe have successfully established their own recognizable and well-liked design themes. It's called "Kinetic design" in Europe where the best example can be found in the new Mondeo, and "Bold American" in the U.S. where it manifests itself in the form of the three-bar chrome grille.

We've heard from inside sources that there's also a clash of personalities involved here between Ford of Europe's chief designer, Martin Smith, and Peter Horbury who heads up design for Ford in the U.S. Establishing a single visual language for Fords sold on both sides of the pond hinges on these two working together, which we've heard is progressing albeit slowly. Mays tells AN, "I'm so pleased with the professional approach that Peter Horbury and Martin [Smith] have taken on driving us to the right answer," but we assume he has to say that, so take it with a grain of salt.

Now that Aston Martin is gone and Jaguar and Land Rover are on their way out, Mays has time once again to delve deeper into the designs of each brand over which he has dominion. Hopefully the hands on approach will keep Martin and Horbury motivated with the end result being some fantastic Ford designs in a half dozen years.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]


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  • 41 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      With luck, the 2012 Ford design language will be more Kinetic than "bold"
        • 7 Years Ago
        with luck, and IT WILL take Luck, Ford will still be around in 2012. I predicted 3 years ago that Ford would be bought out by an asian Co, or bankers by 2010. Either one is more than possible at this point. They had years to fix this thing, and did NOT.
        • 7 Years Ago
        fair enough, but I don't think there was ever a threat of that. The F-150 (and the Super Duty) are doing fine. This is just for the cars. I'm all for proper trucky trucks. I hope they continue making the Ranger as it fills a segment everyone else has abandoned. And I feel like the F-150 is one of the nicest trucks out there (better than Titan, IMHO). That doesn't change the fact that the cars need a total rehash, stat.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Fair enough. However, Manufacturers want a single uniformed look to the model line. If this decision was that easy then it would have been made years ago.

        People will be unhappy either way. Especially if the F-Series and Mustang get the "Kinetic" treatment
        • 7 Years Ago
        even though half the time i don't know what the hell Ford US designers were thinking, I highly doubt the mustang or the f-series will be given european looks. Thatll be career suicide.

        Fortuanately, even Ford knows how to NOT screw up the Mustang and the F-series
        • 7 Years Ago
        Maybe so...when it comes to small cars.
        I don't want to see a "Kinetic" F-150.
        • 7 Years Ago
        that's neither here nor there, as we're talking about domestic nameplates either way. I'm saying that Kinetic language Fords all look better than their BOweLD MOVES equivalents.
        • 7 Years Ago
        John Neff is such an import-lovin' ass.

        All of his articles are as credible as Al Gore!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Aside from the trucks, nobody freakin wants the "bold" three-bar grill. I mean for crying out loud it's drawing from the design language of the 1985 Ford Tempo or Ford Granada. What the heck is "bold" about that? It's ugly.

      I hope any car with that Mach 3-front sells like crap, so the marketing lackeys in the company realize their North-American SKU's look like crap.

      I mean seriously, does anybody think the new Focus is bold? It's plain... plain ugly.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I've got to laugh at your comments. The reason for the laughter is that when I was in college in 2004 I read the Auto section of the Chicago Tribune which had a feature on the upcoming Ford Taurus. They had two pictures in the article one of the Taurus that went into production and another of the other that was up for consideration which had - your guessed it a three bar grille. I was actually hoping for that one but you can't argue with Ford's decision at the time.

        Anyway, this whole 3 bar grille thing makes me wonder how long this concept has been gestating in some design studio with an advocate whose been waiting for the chance to add it to a production vehicle. Having archives are nice but in this case what was out of date should stay that way unless there is a shift in the market. That shift is present only in some vehicle classes - muscle cars (Mustang, Camaro, Charger).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Actually Edge and Fusion both do look great.
      Focus is joke, Taurus another one...
      • 7 Years Ago
      "vehicles in North American and those sold in Europe have successfully established their own recognizable and well-liked design themes".

      That tells you everything, after all, Ford US's theme is well-liked!

      Well, actually, no it isn't. In fact it sucks and looks cheap. People are just covering their asses at Ford US.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ford sells 2,500,000 vehicles in the US every year to people who like their designs.

        Maybe Ford should take a page out of Toyota's book and design the blandest cars on the road. Toyota simplifies (cuts costs) their trim a little more they might try and sell you a just a seat with wheels on it.
        • 7 Years Ago
        7 buck stock tells you all you need to know about the future of Ford design. Gutter?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Personally, I don't think J. Mays is the guy for this task. Ford needs someone who is more than a talker, and can actually design something we want to buy, Then he has to push and push engineering to follow through on his great designs. Ford has had some great concepts where we end up seeing hardly a shred of when the product finally comes out. Even the mustang in it's concept form looked WAYYYYY better than the box we ended up with.

      Retro is fine in the niche market, but what we want is modern intelligently designed cars that hit their target that we can be proud of spending our hard-earned cash on. Ford's pretty much got reliability down, now DESIGN something damnit!
      • 7 Years Ago
      There's a simple solution. The F-150 and Mustang don't sell in Europe so there's no problem with them. Fire all American designers who aren't working on the F150 and Mustang. They put out junk that no one wants and they should be sacked. Bring over the Mondeo and EuroFocus and Ford will be able to sell vehicles that aren't F150s or Mustangs. It can be done in three years. Problem solved.
      • 7 Years Ago
      For everyone so cleverly thinking no one likes Ford US design, or there not good clearly hasn't seen the Fusion, Edge, or upcoming Flex. Further, the kinetic design language while appealing to enthusiasts, DOES NOT appeal to the blue collar types that are Ford customers. The Fusion to Mondeo is a good comparison, but I honestly can't pick a better looking one, and they both kill a Camry or Accord in my eyes.

      I know for a fact that when you set up a kinetic design and compare it to a current FNA design, American Ford customers do not prefer the kinetic design at all.

      I'd like to see a shared platform and mechanicals, and different "tophats" for Mercury (kinetic) and Ford ("bold").
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Ford sells 2,500,000 vehicles in the US every year to people who like their designs."

      Not mentioned in these numbers is the fact Ford trucks are outselling their cars by a 2:1 margin and that car sales dropped by more than 26% (compared with a less than 5% drop in truck sales). I think most would agree this design question concerns cars and not trucks.

      "It's called "Kinetic design" in Europe where the best example can be found in the new Mondeo, and "Bold American" in the U.S. where it manifests itself in the form of the three-bar chrome grille."

      A 26% drop in car sales this year suggests the "Bold American" design theme isn't going over well.

      http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=27105
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's 6 years too late...
      • 7 Years Ago
      As a stockholder, this sadly says to me that Ford has nothing in a Plan or up its corporate sleeve. They have been dicking around with the "World Car" plan for years!
      it is a crock, a smoke-screen,a cya,a plan to leave everything crappy to you successor.
      Again, this is bad news for Ford. Apparently Mays is tapped out, assigned to re-arrange chairs on the Auto-tiatanic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      So what was Mays doing six years ago to prepare for today? Overseeing the attracive design of the new Focus, Fusion and Taurus? Bleech. This is just another attempt to buy time with more of the 'we'll do better next time' excuses.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think Ford can save a lot of money by getting rid of the " Bold American " designer and concentrating on the european "Kinetic" design studio. Is like killing 2 birds with one stone... they save money and make more attractive cars.
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