Ford is getting more serious about meeting its hybrid and electric vehicle sales targets with the transition of C.J. O'Donnell, former Lincoln group marketing manager. O'Donnell played a leading role in reinventing the Lincoln division following the demise of the Mercury brand in early 2011, and rolling out the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan that arrives at dealerships in November. O'Donnell will oversee marketing for the Ford C-Max Hybrid, which just went on sale and precedes the upcoming C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid and the upcoming Fusion Energi.
Previously, Ford has taken a cautious approach with its hybrid and electric products. If you look at September 2012 numbers, 2,788 new vehicles were sold in these categories, with the C-Max Hybrid already taking the lead. Sales of the Ford Focus Electric continued to be low, with just 59 units sold for that month. Ford has been taking on Toyota in ads and corporate communications, but its sales numbers are only around 10 percent of what Toyota has been seeing, primarily through its popular Prius lineup.

O'Donnell has a long history with sales, marketing and product development duties, having worked at Ford, Mazda, Lincoln, Mercury and Jaguar. In his new position, he's replacing Wesley Liu, who moved on to become general manager of sales in China. O'Donnell will play a role in the multimedia ad campaign for the C-Max Hybrid featuring a blue background with white-line silhouettes of the C-Max and its archrival, the Toyota Prius.
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C.J. O'Donnell: Ford's New Group Marketing Manager for Electrification Knows How to Finish Races – and Start Them

Background

C.J. O'Donnell knows what it takes to run a full race and finish strong, but he also knows the importance of starting the right way.

That's good, because as Group Electrification Marketing manager for Ford Motor Company – launching five new electrified vehicles this year – knowing how to properly begin a race couldn't be any more important than it is right now.

"Through our new electrified vehicles, Ford is establishing a foundation for the future," says O'Donnell. "What we do now will have a tremendous effect on the success of vehicles such as C-MAX Hybrid, along with Ford Motor Company and the entire industry. It's very exciting to be in this position."

O'Donnell was named to the position last month, and brings an impressive track record of experience largely centered on launching innovative new products and building broad market awareness and acceptance of new products.

By the end of 2012, Ford Motor Company will sell six electrified vehicles in North America: Focus Electric, C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug- in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

O'Donnell oversees the day-to-day marketing activity related to the electrified vehicles that will be in the Ford brand lineup by the end of 2012.

"I've had a lot of experience launching new products and establishing new nameplates in the market," says O'Donnell. "This is a fresh start. We've been given a blank piece of paper with the objective of establishing Ford's range of electrified products. I really like that challenge; it will draw on the imagination of everyone on this team."

O'Donnell's résumé consists of several sales, marketing and product development roles with Ford, Mazda, Lincoln and Mercury. O'Donnell served two years as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Jaguar North America and later held the position of Global Marketing Manager for Jaguar Cars Ltd. in Great Britain, where he helped hone Jaguar's DNA by supporting launch of the XF sports sedan and XJ full-size sedan.

Most recently, O'Donnell served as Lincoln Group Marketing manager.

"If it's new, growth-oriented, or needs a new strategic direction, regardless of the brand or product, I seem to end up in the middle of it," says O'Donnell. "That is perfectly fine because I thrive on that."

His life and passion
  • A West Hazleton, Pa. native, O'Donnell graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from Villanova University and an MBA in marketing from Columbia Business School
  • O'Donnell, 49, lives in Birmingham, Mich. with his wife, Mary and their three children: Sean, 20; Erin, 18; Brian, 17
  • O'Donnell enjoys traveling with his family, which has lived on three continents
  • An avid runner, O'Donnell has completed two Marine Corp. marathons and can be seen at races in southeast Michigan on most weekends
  • O'Donnell is an accomplished open-wheel and sports car racer with Sports Car Club of America and recently competed in the Mille Miglia among other historic racing events


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      So now, Ford EVs are going to have the same level of success as Lincoln? This is not encouraging. Lincoln is the bottom-feeder in the wanna-be "entry luxury" segment. But it fits with Ford's "strategy" - a Lincoln is a badge-engineered Ford with a higher price tag, so a revised drivetrain should drive similar price premium. Guess we can write Ford off now.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Looks at new Fusion and C-Max.... Maybe hang on before you write off Ford....
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          The normal & hybrid Fusion, and the regular & hybrid C-Max will do fine. The EV? Based on current Ford "success" with the FFE, and pending marketing from they guy who brings us today's Lincoln, I'm not very hopeful.
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Quite rightly, given Ford Motors limited capital, and debt load, Ford looked at the success of Prius, and the disappointing Leaf sales, and opted to pursue it's major investment in hybrids.
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does this mean they are actually going to try to sell the Focus EV? Or will this guy only manage marketing for a few cities in California?
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      So a person who did a poor job marketing higher-priced luxury cars to old people is going to take on the task of marketing new-technology eco-friendly electric cars to young people? It doesn't sound like he's got the right experience for the job. But maybe the fact that he did a poor job with old people means he may be better with younger people?
        fefifofum
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        It doesn't matter how good your marketing is when your product isn't very good.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @fefifofum
          Yeah, good marketing didn't work for the Smart car here in the US. I think they spent more money on marketing than putting an actually decent transmission in it.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @fefifofum
          A good marketing man can convince Eskimos to buy ice.
          fefifofum
          • 2 Years Ago
          @fefifofum
          Well, the smart car is pretty stupid in the US. It gets poor MPG for a car that size, and you don't need a car that size here, the parking spaces are huge. It costs a lot as well. It' doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that thing was going to be a failure in the US.