• Jul 29, 2008
From: Ford Motor Company
To: Richard Gresens

Richard; sincere thanks for designing the Flex, a vehicle that's working well for FoMoCo in the press, gathering much critical praise at a time when we need it most. Your team succeeded at turning the Freestyle's sows ear into a bigger, slicker, bolder silk purse that's drawing good attention to Ford. Unfortunately, now that we've got a viable neo-Country Squire, we no longer require your talents. Please accept the nice cardboard box we've left, it's been spray painted gold in an effort to call to mind the gold watch you might have gotten were our business not in such a shambles. Thanks for your service, and warmest regards.


Seriously though, Mr. Gresens is rumored to have departed Ford as part of a salaried layoff effort the automaker is undertaking, though he could have left for personal reasons, as well. The talented designer, inspired by everything from architecture to vacuum cleaners, hasn't officially landed anywhere yet. We'd have loved to have seen Gresen's take on the Focus, and we hope that the blocky CUV's bold, clean styling has some staying power.

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


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wonder if Ford let him keep his T-Square?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess FORD is saying,
      "let him eat Strake..."
      • 6 Years Ago
      I seriously doubt Mr. Gresens brought the Flex to market all by himself; if I'm not mistaken, it had to be signed-off and approved by management, too.

      the CUV and SUV markets are far from dead; GM is having no problem selling all the Enclaves it can build, and SUVs will pick up again as gasoline prices drop; they are already.

      I see two really big problems with the Flex. first, the styling. all automakers pick a "Feature" vehicle for all advertising, and usually also for the initial build.

      the rootbeer brown/white roof combination, in my opinion, is absolutely putrid. trying to sell a vehicle with a cheap, white-painted roof for $43K is ridiculous. it looks like either a municipal vehicle, or one from a utility company. perhaps make the brown non-metallic, take out the A/C, and it could be a UPS vehicle.

      the other issue is the price. the 43K price tag for a loaded model would be great in a Lincoln version, but is far too pricely for a Ford. this price range is very status-conscious, and not many folks will want to buy a Ford when they could buy an Enclave (or several other premium brands) for the same price.

      AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        Larry... Parsons & UC Irvine probably have ZERO designers (stylist) working in any of the Design staffs of ANY car company.

        Art Center & CCS (in Detroit) grads are a HUGE part of the styling departments around the world. Cleveland, BYU, & Pratt have hit & miss classes that are hired. The Royal Academy of Art+ Design have grads that get their Masters in Industrial Design (focusing on transportation).

        BTW, those goofy strakes probably come from Mays' buddy... Freeman Thomas who also had them on everything Chrysler (think Crossfire, Pacifica & many concept cars when he was there...) Who says designers don't recycle?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Of course he didn't bring the Flex to market by himself... NO ONE said he did this.

        Many companies promote their Design staffs... Ford usually does NOT do this as J. Mays is known in the biz as a shameless self promoter. Mays was known to take the credit for the now dead T-Bird concept/ production model even though he was still at VW during most of that design project.

        Ford took some of Mays' power away a few years back (like BMW moved Chris Bangle aside from direct design decisions) so this Flex designer received more press than normal. I'm sure Mays & other Design VP's added input to Gresens' design concept.

        Usually the designer in the media is not always the ACTUAL designer (stylist) of the car. Do y'all think Tom Gale actually sketched or sat at his computer & "designed"all the cars he is credited with? NO. He directed a team of designers that don't have a public bio.

        Don't feel bad for Gresens... his next gig will be for one of the Japanese companies in CA or he will go to Europe


        • 6 Years Ago
        Mike ---all true...Add the weight.It is too heavy. It is a lard-butt. And why do a half-a**ed thing like the strakes. It is over-the-top but not enough.
        like trac lights, strakesare whata designer creates when he or she is out of ideas.Too bad. I am a shareholder in FORD.
        I think they should go to Parsons or Art Center School of Design
        or UC IRvine and get some students.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is firing Flex designer a wrong decision? Because the designers of Taurus, Focus and the rest of the Ford lineup weren't fired with him, along with the 90% of the executive team.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wish Ford would have thought out their product portfolio better.

      A car company should have one and only one vehicle per market niche. A subcompact car, compact car, midsize car, fullsize car, sports car; a compact and fullsize SUV; a compact and midsize truck; etcetera. Ford has great SUVs and trucks, but their entire car lineup (save to some extent the Fusion and Taurus) is barely passable. The Focus isn't fresh enough to survive against the Honda Civic, which is partly why Honda's sales charts are rising so much. The Crown Vic is outdated. The Mustang's V-6 option is underpowered and a gas-guzzler.

      I'm a Ford guy but Ford's got absolutely nothing I'd want to buy. If I were to look for a vehicle right now my first choices would be the Jeep Patriot, the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevrolet Colorado. If the new Mustang improves in fuel economy or they create a crew cab Ranger I'd consider a sale but otherwise I would have a hard time considering a Ford vehicle.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A more fitting title might have been: "Flex designer casualty of Flex design".
        • 6 Years Ago
        He was the casualty of seniority. Its stupid, because the Chief Engineer was promoted, even though he wanted to make the Flex w/o the white roof, big wheels, woodie depressions in the side, and the nice cool interior, all thing Richard Gresens was fighting for.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess they are firing all US designers since Alan has told all of us all future Ford small cars are the ones from Europe which are designed over there by their own team of designers. So this is of no surprise really. Now if he left on his own accord, maybe he sees a sinking ship and bailed out before it submerges!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the Flex is one of those "love it or hate it" designs. I LOVE IT !! i think its very futuristic. People might call it boxy, but boxy it is not. I think Ford vehicles are best designed among all american car makers. I hate CHRYSLERS, except the 300. I think people who sign off ugly vehicles should be fired and not the ones who design em'. Chevy's and GM's dont look good either save for the Malibu a wee bit ok !
        • 6 Years Ago
        Uh Bilbo....how long has the Flex been on sale? Like a month? It can't even be said yet if the Flex is a flop or not.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Some hate your fav, the Chrysler 300... its boxy, retro feel is also LOVE or HATE!.

        BTW, Freeman Thomas (ex VW-Audi & Chrysler) did a lot of work on the 300 (a car Ralph Gilles get primary credit for). Freeman & J. Mays worked together before... BOTH are now at Ford.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am a personal fan of the looks of the Flex. Unfortunately though it might not be the big hit they were hoping for. The original Fairlane was to be basically the 3 row version of the Edge in size. Instead it was moved to the bigger platform to become the Freestyle/Taurus X replacement. This may have been a mistake with people looking for smaller more economic vehicles.

        Ford has laid off the 300 people who were to start this week on the third shift at the plant that builds the Flex and the Edge. This sounds to me like an early sign that the Flex is not selling as well as planned. I hope I am wrong because Ford desperately needs the Flex to sell and the Ontario economy can't take too many more hits.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Poor Sales of a well designed car show bad business decisions. Surely the Flex is a great car - so......either they've lacked in the advertisement/marketing department or release timing or something like that. Its not like American car designers and engineers designing engines and transmissions and whatever else have no brains. They've great brains to take on best of the best, but business decisions by company big-wigs ruin it !
        • 6 Years Ago
        So in the future, aerodynamics do not exist?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Flex canceled after three years...
      • 6 Years Ago
      It would have been smarter for Ford to use a 4 instead of a 6 banger.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Uhhhh you're kidding, right?
      • 6 Years Ago
      1 designer is worth 50 business majors.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Not this one obviously in Ford Design's opinion.

        To read J. Mays' press, he designs EVERYTHING at Ford... so this guy gets the boot. Sad time in S/E Michigan.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Flex was the brainchild of J Mays, who referred to it as the "Hamptons". It was originally sketched by two designers in advanced, one who works for Nissan, and another who works in Ford's California studio. They drew it in 2001, but it took Ford seven years to do it. Gresens deserves credit for fighting to make the production vehicle as good as it is ( white roof, big wheels, metal tailgate, nice interior ) but he did not decide the size or the overall boxy concept. by the way, I heard the Chief Engineer of the Flex was promoted. Go figure that one out.
        Jon Russell
        • 6 Years Ago
        ford let go people based off of a seniority setting... they kept the people that have been there for a while and then everyone else got the boot... my automotive teacher was let go yesterday even though he had been working there 8 years. this guy wasnt there that long even though he might be good... its only fair according to ford
        • 6 Years Ago
        @jon

        Seniority had little to do with whether or not they were laid off.
        There were people here (at Ford) that had 28 years and got the axe.
        There were many surprises and many tears shed.
      • 6 Years Ago

      The Flex would make for a great Mercury.
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