Auto blogTue, 25 Sep 2012 16:30:00 EST
It's hard to think back now, but the same man overseeing the design of the 2013 Ford Fusion also presided over a rather lackluster period in Ford design, highlighted by vehicles like the Five Hundred and Freestyle. With the redesigned Fusion receiving high praise, J Mays tells Automotive News that he feels vindicated from criticisms suggesting he's not a daring enough designer.
When Mays took over as lead of design in 1997, he admits to having quite an ego ("My head would barely fit through the door some days. I've long since gotten over myself") and the workload to match. With the Blue Oval's portfolio full of premium brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo at that point, along with the bread-and-butter Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, Mays certainly had quite the challenge.
It was in the mid-2000s that Mays took over just the premium brands, and took on the new title of Chief Creative Officer. At the time, Mays endured some criticism for looking backwards to retro styling, rather than setting a new standard for American car design - criticism that Mays says he is free from with the all-new Fusion.
When General Motors put down several of its brands in recent years, it also let loose thousands of brand-loyal customers who will eventually need another car.
R.L. Polk Associates estimates there are more than 18 million cars from 16 discontinued makes on the road today. Those "orphan owners" have sales-hungry competitors seeing dollar signs. GM is offering Saturn owners $1,000 cash toward a Chevy Cruze, Cadillac CTS or a GMC Acadia. Ford is giving its Mercury lease customers a chance to get out of their contracts with no early-termination penalty and offering to waive six remaining payments if they drive off in a Ford or Lincoln.
Edmunds.com research shows the efforts are paying off somewhat for GM, with 39 percent of Pontiac owners, 37 percent of Hummer owners and 31 percent of Saturn owners taking delivery of another GM-branded vehicle. But that leaves as much as 69 percent of owners going elsewhere. Ford, Honda and Toyota seem to be attracting many former GM owners.
Now that the curtain has closed on Mercury, Ford Motor Company will redirect all of its marketing dollars for the oft-overlooked brand to the Blue Oval's luxury outpost, Lincoln. In speaking to Automotive News, the chairman of the Lincoln National Dealer Council, Bob Tasca, Jr., said, "You'll see a lot stronger presence in the advertising of Lincoln in 2011."
Lincoln spokesperson Christian Bokich reminded AN that the automaker is "preparing the way for seven new or significantly refreshed vehicles" that will be launched over the next four years, and the largest ad blitz in 2011 will focus on the refreshed MKX crossover, as well as the MKZ sedan and its hybrid counterpart. Following that, Lincoln has plans to launch a completely overhauled version of its Navigator SUV, an all-new C-segment vehicle and the overhauled 2013 MKZ, which Tasca says will be "strikingly different from its Ford Fusion sibling."
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: John Neff/Autoblog/AOL]Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments