Big product changes are apparently afoot at Ford, with a series of comprehensive goals that will get more people in showrooms while simultaneously trimming costs within the automaker. FoMoCo's group veep of global product development, Derrick Kuzak, spoke at the Automotive News World Congress recently and hit on a number of points that will shape Ford's future.

To begin with, product development, styling changes and technical improvements will be on a three-year cycle, keeping it inline with many of the top tier automakers with which Ford aims to better compete. Recognizing that design is at the forefront of most consumers' minds, Kuzak said that many of the enhancements to Ford's lineup will be design-driven, noting that, "You don't design for the masses; each vehicle has a target audience."

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has talked about the reduction and proliferation of global platforms at length and Kuzak reiterated that utilizing both global architectures and engines is a cornerstone to Ford's resurgence. Kuzak says that by 2012 around 70-percent of Ford vehicles offered worldwide will be built on eight platforms.

Kuzak went on to reconfirm that the Verve is on its way to North America, but don't expect to see it until 2010 at the earliest. He also said that Ford's EcoBoost engine system will be in 43 vehicles in North America in the next four years, making up 500,000 units in NA and almost 750,000 units worldwide. Finally, he also noted that mating the EcoBoost mills with an "electronically shifted manual gearbox" could increase fuel economy by 20-percent and pay for itself in about two-and-a-half years. If that means more dual-clutch gearboxes like the one about to debut on Volvos, then more good things are underway.

[Source: Autoweek]