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Snohomish, Washington, United States
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.
These days, when you buy a new car, it's not unreasonable to expect a certain period of free maintenance to come along as well. Sometimes this is through the life of the warranty, in other cases a little less. But Ford Motor Company is going beyond those deals for at least one part of its cars. As of now, if you buy a set of Motorcraft brake pads for a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury model, you get free replacements for as long as you own the vehicle. The offer is good at Ford or Lincoln dealers and Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers.
"We will replace the pads for as long as you own the vehicle," said Elizabeth Weigandt to Autoblog. She did clarify that the Motorcraft pads are generally for models from the '90s or newer. Also, to take advantage of this program, a person must return to the same dealer each time to get the free parts.
Of course, Ford isn't just handing out brake pads to anyone who walks by; there are certain stipulations. First, the components have to be worn down to less than three millimeters to be eligible, and the buyer still has to pay for the labor to install them. If the model is used as a fleet vehicle for commercial purposes like as a taxi or limousine, this offer also doesn't apply; the same thing for racecars. On the plus side, if you recently bought a set of pads from one of the participating locations, you're still in luck. The deal covers parts purchased as of July 1.