Gunnar Herrmann: Architect of Ford's Global C-Segment Platform has Always Been Key Focus Player
Gunnar Herrmann remembers getting the call from a Ford executive in 1999 after the Ford Focus won Europe’s coveted Car of the Year award. His key role in the creation of the original Focus was about to become a bigger one.
Herrmann, a friendly, capable German, would be promoted to chief program engineer for the Ford Focus line. It’s the top job for any vehicle engineer at Ford – the chief program engineer is responsible for developing the entire vehicle.
“I thought ‘That’s my job,’” remembers Herrmann, who has played a major role in the evolution of the Ford Focus over three vehicle generations. The car has become the lynchpin of the Ford range in Europe and today is at the vanguard of Ford’s expanded global car strategy.
“That was a cool offer,” he says. “The opportunity to control a whole vehicle…that’s the biggest job you can imagine.”
Herrmann, who just turned 50, had served as body engineering manager for the original Focus and vividly remembers how the car evolved into its ultimate winning design with a torsionally stiff body structure that contributed to its superior handling. He says understanding the ethos of that original vehicle has been an important part of shepherding the subsequent generations, each of which have been major evolutions.
Herrmann steered development work for the second-generation Focus that debuted in 2004, but before that happened he got promoted again. This time – in 2002 – he was named vehicle line director for the C-segment products of Ford of Europe. It’s a job he still has today – one that’s more important than ever in Ford’s worldwide business.
Herrmann is the architect of a new platform of C-segment products that will be worldwide in reach. It’s the world’s largest segment of vehicles, and Ford hopes to sell more than 2 million units – led by the next-generation Ford Focus – from 10 different vehicle shapes it will produce.
Its importance to Ford is in leveraging reach and scale globally. The new platform replaces three different C-segment platforms currently in production in world markets. And it’s symbolic of Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally’s ONE Ford strategy to create a new generation of global vehicles that will characterize the brand in the future.
Herrmann says the strategy has been a positive change that has energized the product development plan and aligned the business. At the heart is operating as ONE Ford, and Herrmann says that mind-set is reflected directly into the character of the new global products.
“When you hear Alan Mulally speak, your immediate reaction is that he must be talking about us as the Ford organization,” Herrmann says. “But then I realize, hey, he’s talking about me, specifically.”
Speaking with the calm and humble Herrmann is reassurance that this important vehicle family is in the right hands.
“Sure, it’s a tremendous responsibility,” he said, “but I’ve really spent my entire career at Ford in C-cars and I feel like I’m actually creating my own cars. And I know these cars down to their DNA. You have a relationship with them. They develop and grow like your children.”
Herrmann says Ford’s new C-car platform is significant because he believes it is the first car line at Ford that will be a real family.
“This is the first time where we have a real portfolio. There’s a car for every life stage in it.”
Herrmann, who said even a pressure-packed job should still be fun, drives a current-generation Focus RS.
“I love this car,” he says. “It’s such a fantastic product that it makes you want to drive the extra mile just because it’s so much fun.”
Herrmann can’t reveal all of Ford’s plans for the C-cars of the future, but says they’ll be great to drive.
So far, Ford has revealed the next-generation Focus and two other products of the future platform family. At the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford unveiled the next-generation C-MAX multi-activity vehicle (MAV) and the new Grand C-MAX, a seven-seat MAV with sliding rear doors. This vehicle will be introduced in the United States in 2011 as a promised whitespace vehicle.
A native of Leverkusen, Germany, just across the Rhine River from Ford’s Merkenich Product Development Center where he is now based, Herrmann started his career with a Ford apprenticeship in body construction in 1979. Upon completion, he entered university in Hamburg to study body engineering, and Ford approached him during his studies to sponsor him if he would make Ford his career choice. While working at Ford, he would later earn a master’s degree in advanced automotive engineering at Loughborough University in England.
He and his wife now live over the river from Ford’s Cologne base in a house they renovated. Their two children are both away at the moment – his 21-year-old daughter studying at university in Tübingen, Germany, and his 17-year-old son spending a year as an exchange student in Melbourne, Australia.
Herrmann calls his house a paradise that makes him question the need to travel. But he does travel, for work and for pleasure. The family enjoys skiing, particularly in the Austrian Alps.
And Herrmann has become an avid cook. His favorite dish to prepare is paella.
“Every weekend, the cooking is my job,” he said. “I love going to the market, getting the fresh ingredients and spending Saturday afternoon cooking while enjoying a glass of wine.”
Herrmann’s master recipe is a new range of C-sized vehicles for the world. Each of his creations will be unique – led by the next-generation Focus.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Gunnar Herrmann drives a Focus RS
• Passionate about motorcycles, he is embarking on restoration of a 1945 BMW R42 motorcycle
Jim Hughes: Teamwork on a Global Scale Leads to World-Class Next-Generation Ford Focus
Jim Hughes grew up in a large family and was the youngest of 11 children. Early on, Hughes, the chief nameplate engineer in North America for the next-generation Ford Focus, learned some valuable lessons about teamwork.
“When you have that many people in the house, it’s a lot of work just getting everybody to the dinner table,” Hughes said, laughing. “I think it definitely instilled in me the importance of cooperation.”
That early experience was particularly helpful in Hughes’ latest assignment – embracing the multicultural engineering challenges of bringing the next-generation Focus from concept to reality.
“It’s really been an amazing experience for the worldwide team to come together on the next-generation Focus project,” Hughes said. “This is the first truly globally engineered car in the company’s history – to be sold in Asia, the Americas and Europe. We’re blazing new paths, and we learned to work together on even better levels than we have in the past.”
With different functions taking place in countries all over the world, the team was required to understand and embrace other cultures.
“At first, that was our biggest challenge,” Hughes said. “But I think once we were able to agree on our over-riding goal – to be one team and best in class – we could actually leverage those cultural differences.”
A perfect example, he said, was the way the team used European-inspired design to deliver an exciting vehicle experience to North American customers. The next-generation Focus, combined with the launch of Fiesta, will help transform customer views of Ford, he believes.
“We’re going to prove to consumers that we are absolutely a best-in-class car manufacturer,” Hughes said. “We came together globally to make this car a success, and I firmly believe our customers are going to love it.”
A Matter of Personal Pride
Hughes, a native of southeastern Michigan, believes the automotive industry is a part of his soul. He can talk cars for hours, rhapsodizing over every little detail.
“I really grew up with the automotive and manufacturing base in Michigan, and I have a deep personal pride in being a part of the region,” Hughes said. “That, combined with the fact that I really dug cars and enjoyed the analytical challenge of engineering, led me to this career.”
Hughes received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Wayne State University and his MBA from the University of Michigan. Hughes has served in a variety of roles throughout his time with Ford, including chassis engineering, powertrain planning, program management and vehicle engineering.
More recently, Hughes worked as the assistant chief nameplate engineer on the Ford F-150 and Lincoln Mark LT vehicle lines and subsequently as marketing and planning manager for all full-size trucks.
Though a love for all things automotive brought Hughes to this role, the drive to deliver world-class products, exceed customer expectations and bring about team success is what keeps him ticking.
“In any business, you have to meet or exceed customer requirements to be successful. In our business, your score card is out there for everyone to see in overall vehicle quality and sales volume,” explained Hughes. “Ultimately, the customer speaks on our behalf about how we, as a team, perform; and getting customer affirmation tells me that my team did a good job.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Growing up the youngest of 11 children did have its perks – there were always enough kids to make two teams for pick-up football and basketball games
• Jim, a 19-year employee of Ford, owns a 2010 Ford Taurus and 2010 Focus; he’d like to add an F-350 Super Duty diesel truck to his garage
• Jim enjoys spending time up north with his two young sons; they love all outdoor activities
Mark Kaufman, Lifelong Athlete, Knows Persistence Pays Off in Changing Customer Perception
Mark Kaufman, Ford’s small vehicle marketing manager, knows a great deal about persistence and discipline. This college gymnast and Ironman triathlete has learned through the art of competition.
“In gymnastics, persistence is key,” he said. “You’re not going to conquer that skill the first time you try it. So you try again. And again. And in an endurance race – yes, there’s a point, there’s always a point – where you question your sanity for voluntarily signing up for it. But you know if you can just work past that rough point, you’ll prevail.”
When Kaufman said he’s out to change the perception of Ford’s small cars in North America – starting with the next-generation Focus scheduled to launch in late 2010 – chances are he’ll get the job done.
This lifelong athlete, a 20-year veteran of Ford, became a competitor early in his career. When the high school coach initiated a boys’ gymnastics team, he looked toward the elementary schools for future high school athletes, and Kaufman was recruited.
“I was always climbing around like a monkey, and my mom thought gymnastics might be safer than football,” Kaufman remembered. “I’m not so sure about that, but by the time I was in sixth grade, I was practicing five days a week at the high school.”
He continued gymnastics throughout high school and participated in the sport at the University of Illinois until he decided to quit and focus on a rigorous engineering curriculum. The decision paid off – Kaufman earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He later attended the University of Michigan, where he completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1992 and his MBA in 1998.
Today, Kaufman’s enthusiasm for his job is obvious. He’s motivated by creating a car customers want to drive and by seeing their reaction to a product that exceeds expectations when introduced.
“The most exciting time in the program is the marketing launch, when you get to tell everyone about the great new car,” he said. “I love walking around the vehicle with customers and dealers and explaining the features and the finer aspects of the design.”
Kaufman’s extensive experience with Ford, including a stint at Ford of Europe, left him well prepared for the global launch. While at Ford of Europe, Kaufman was the marketing manager for medium cars supporting 21 countries; he held a leadership role in both planning and marketing the next generation of Ford’s global small vehicles for North America.
“That experience really dovetailed well into this assignment,” he said. “Having those relationships was so helpful, and the ability to share information in a manner we could all understand started things off in a positive way.”
A New Kind of Focus
The next-generation Focus introduces a new high-level model series called Titanium, and Kaufman couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it.
“We’re going to surprise people with how premium a Focus can be,” he said. “The craftsmanship, the attention to detail, all of the design elements – the next-generation Focus is a great car, but the Titanium model will really exceed expectations.”
Another strong point of the next-generation Focus is the technology story, Kaufman said. .
“We’re staying on the cutting edge of technology with Focus, especially because technology is a way of life for our younger customers,” he said. “We want people to feel connected to the car, make it easy for them to interact with the vehicle and have a tremendous amount of information available at the touch of a button.”
The next-generation Focus is a game-changer for Ford, he said.
“It’s going to change people’s perception about what Ford can do with small cars,” he said. “We hope customers will be just as pleased driving the car as they are looking at it.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Mark’s list of personal accomplishments includes a mid-pack finish at the 2006 Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. (He’s also completed two other Ironman competitions in Wisconsin and New York). Kaufman finished a 110-mile TransRockies Trail Running Race in 2008
• Mark and his wife Mary can often be spotted together on their tandem road bike every weekend during cycling season
• When Mark and Mary lived in Germany, their favorite bike route took them down the back roads, through the Mosel River Valley – picturesque wine country. The two would often stop at quaint little wineries that tourists couldn’t find. They’d park the bike after a full day of cycling and get the full tour from the proprietors themselves
Dr. Norbert Kessing: Leading Ford Effort to Make Vehicle Dynamics an Applied Science
They say Ford has driving dynamics down to a science with cars like the next-generation Ford Focus.
Although many consider the development of the handling characteristics of a vehicle to be something of an art, it certainly doesn’t look that way at Ford. After all, the engineering team that crafts the dynamic performance of European Ford products is steered by a man with a doctorate in the field.
Dr. Norbert Kessing is Ford of Europe’s manager of vehicle dynamics. He’s a man with a lot more than seat-of-the-pants knowledge about the dynamic properties of automobiles, and his knowledge has been a critical advantage for Ford in the development of the next-generation Focus.
“More and more, we are turning vehicle dynamics into an objective, scientific process,” says Kessing, a friendly 47-year-old German. “It used to be very subjective, but more and more we are finding ways to measure and replicate the forces and complex influences on a vehicle’s dynamic character. That means we can have a much deeper understanding of what a vehicle is doing dynamically and why.”
And Ford already knew a lot.
Driving dynamics has been a key DNA element for the Ford Focus since it was originally introduced in 1998. Since that time, Ford has honed its science, a process that involves sophisticated computer-aided engineering tools, testing engineers working in laboratories at Ford’s European product development facility in Merkenich, Germany, and test drivers at its Lommel (Belgium) Proving Ground.
“We still use test drivers and skilled tuners are crucial,” Kessing said. “As much as we have been able to study scientifically, there are still aspects of dynamics that require subjective testing by expert drivers. But our approach helps give these drivers better chassis setups to evaluate, and close collaboration among all the disciplines allows a test driver to understand what he just felt while driving on the proving ground. This knowledge loop allows us to improve continuously.”
It’s an approach that has created the addictive driving experience promised by the next-generation Ford Focus.
Kessing points to the adoption of Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) in the next-generation Focus models. It is far from an off-the-shelf system.
Kessing’s team was reluctant to adopt EPAS, despite its positive contribution to reduced fuel consumption, until its dynamic behavior could be better understood. EPAS systems are considered by some to be a vehicle dynamics compromise.
“What many people don’t realize is how complicated EPAS systems are,” Kessing said. “There are more than 250 parameters that require precise programming in an EPAS system. If you don’t fully understand how all those parameters contribute to the dynamics, you will risk having a vehicle that gives the driver poor steering feedback.”
Kessing’s vehicle dynamics team worked with a testing fixture company to create a special laboratory testing device on which EPAS hardware and its various programming possibilities can be systematically evaluated. It was a 7-figure investment in the next-generation Focus’ driving dynamics – an investment that paid off in new levels of agility and excellent driver feedback.
“You can’t just go out on the test track and figure out EPAS,” Kessing said. “That’s because it would take forever to systematically investigate and understand all the parameters. We were the first to use a testing rig like this, and the results have been impressive. Some people believe we at Ford are obsessive about this, and I guess it’s true. We believe in honing every detail of a chassis and steering system. That attention to detail is what will separate a Ford Focus from its competitors.”
Ford’s doctor of driving lives near Moenchengladbach, Germany, which is conveniently positioned for him to commute to the office or the proving ground. One of the most enjoyable aspects of his role is a mix of behind-the-wheel driving and theoretical engineering work.
On the track, he is clearly the master of more than just theory. He developed his skills as a test driver over more than a decade of work.
Kessing remembers having his bedroom plastered with car posters when he was 15 years old. He got his first car, a VW Scirocco, at 19, which was an important milestone. At university, he got exposed to test driving and started working on projects for Ford.
“Like many lads who start driving, I probably drove too fast at times,” Kessing said. “But as I studied and later became a university instructor, I became exposed to the disciplines involved in test driving. I recall taking instruction in 1996 from [three-time Formula 1 world champion] Jackie Stewart.”
Kessing’s first role with Ford was creating steering and handling simulation models for the CAE systems, work that continues to advance to this day. With the work of Kessing and others, testing procedures now involve extensive use of steering robots, which precisely replicate steering inputs time after time.
Kessing, who wanted an original Ford Mustang fastback, now, has a 17-year-old son who is fond of the same car. He and his wife also have a 14-year-old daughter.
Kessing said he’s known for being even-tempered and happy. “I don’t like to be in a bad mood,” he said.
That’s good, because one of his hobbies is boxing, which he likes for its mix of fitness-enhancing exercise and thinking. His colleagues needn’t worry – he only punches sandbags.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Kessing’s garage holds a Ford Fiesta and a Ford S-MAX – vehicles that each have dynamic capabilities considered class-leading
• “Bullitt” is his favorite car movie
• Kessing enjoys strumming folk and soft rock music on the acoustic guitar. A favorite song is Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”
Stefan Lamm: Key Architect of Ford's Kinetic Design Philosophy Wants to Play Matchmaker
Stefan Lamm has designs for you. He wants you to fall in love.
Lamm is exterior design chief for the next-generation Ford Focus. His vision for its kinetic design-infused shape will soon be on streets and highways around the world. The next-generation Focus is the first vehicle in a wave of global products coming from the ONE Ford strategy.
“When it comes to a new design,” Lamm says, “people have to fall in love.”
His job is to help them along with compelling designs that make the vehicle appear as if it is in motion, even when standing still – designs that telegraph the driving experience and make Ford products more appealing than ever.
Lamm believes the world is ready to fall in love with the next-generation Focus’ sleek silhouette, complexly sculpted surfaces, innovative face and bold graphics.
“This is the sportiest five-door in the segment, no doubt,” says Lamm, “and that’s not easy because everybody’s trying to be dynamic.”
Lamm said a key difference with the next-generation Focus is found in its unique proportions.
“The proportions of this car really make it stand out,” he explained. “If you study the cabin-to-body relationship, you see how we achieved this sleek, sporty silhouette. The cabin is lower and the A-pillar is positioned far forward. Yet there have been no sacrifices to interior roominess.”
Lamm was a key recruit of Executive Design Director Martin Smith when he took leadership of Ford of Europe’s design portfolio. From 1994 to 2005, Lamm worked for General Motors Europe design team on Opel products and concepts. Smith brought Lamm with him to Ford to craft kinetic design.
“I came over with the task of challenging the brand and changing the brand’s design language,” Lamm says. “I felt honored to do that job.”
Lamm believes his ability for visionary thinking and his talents for translating ideas into three-dimensional form were key traits attractive to Smith and the Ford team.
“Bringing controlled sculpture into exterior design was my dream, and the time was right to join Ford.”
The man behind the exterior designs of the recent Ford Kuga and global Ford Fiesta remembers a love for sketching and a love of cars that began in childhood. He particularly remembers the exotic Italian sports cars – the Ferrari Testarossa and the Lamborghini Countach – as dream cars when he was a boy growing up in Dortmund, Germany.
“My father never could afford to buy a new car, so I was always watching what cars our neighbors and friends had and sketching them,” Lamm said. “I was always sketching and by the time I was 15 or 16, I started dreaming about being a car designer.”
He pursued his passion and attended the Art Center Europe design college in Pforzheim, Switzerland for formal training.
He predicts the next-generation Focus design has the potential impact globally that the first Focus had in Europe when it was introduced in 1998.
“I wasn’t working for the company then, but I could certainly see the impact Focus had.”
Lamm points to the new front end, with its bold three-piece lower trapezoid grille shape, as one of the design’s thought-provoking features and advancement in the kinetic design language. He’s especially proud of it, not only in pure design terms, but also for the functionality it incorporates – he credits a strong working relationship with designers and engineers for its underlying structure’s ability to meet global standards ranging from European pedestrian protection legislation to tough U.S. crash safety requirements.
Lamm says he leads a quiet family life as opposed to the flashy reputation of some designers. He lives in Cologne with his wife and their 9-month-old daughter.
One of his joys is cooking in the couple’s newly installed designer kitchen. Risotto is one of his favorite dishes to prepare.
Lamm enjoys running as his main fitness regimen but admits he is not able to run as regularly as he’d like.
“When I get home and my daughter smiles at me and wants me to play with her, thoughts of going out for a run disappear,” he says.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• In Lamm’s garage are a current Ford Kuga and a Ford Fiesta, which were the first cars he was responsible for designing at Ford
• Lamm’s all-time favorite Ford is the Ford GT. He’d like an Aston Martin DB9
Chantel Lenard: New Challenges, Bringing Customers' Voice to Life
Chantel Lenard is not one to back down from a challenge. She’s a wife and mother of two young girls. She holds degrees from both Purdue and Harvard and, yes, she did bungee jump into a New Zealand river gorge on vacation once.
For Lenard, group marketing manager for global small and midsize cars, her latest assignment was a challenge all its own – bringing the customer’s voice to life as she helped develop the vehicle and marketing strategies for the next-generation Ford Focus
“For many years, small cars were a vehicle choice driven mainly by affordability,” Lenard said. “What we’re seeing now is a shift to small cars as a vehicle of preference – from ‘What I have to drive’ to ‘What I want to drive’.”
That shift in choice is actually a shift in attitude, she said.
“Customers told us ‘small’ shouldn’t mean ‘sacrifice’,” Lenard explained. “Head-turning style, spirited driving dynamics and advanced technologies, previously found only on larger, more expensive cars, are the new expectations of small car buyers. These expectations were front and center as we developed the next-generation Focus.”
By the end of 2011, Lenard will have overseen the launch of the Ford Fiesta, next-generation Focus and the seven-passenger Focus C-MAX.
“We have a lot to do during the next two years,” Lenard said. “It’s an exciting and fun opportunity and one my team feels privileged to have. Innovative products inspire innovative marketing, making this a dream job for an automotive marketer.”
The Road to Focus
Lenard first came to Ford in 1992 and has held a variety of roles in purchasing, finance, strategy, marketing and sales. Other positions include Ford SUV group brand manager and large car/crossover product marketing and strategy manager.
Lenard earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University and later took a leave of absence from Ford to pursue her MBA at Harvard University. While there, she realized how much she enjoyed and missed the automotive industry.
“We went through more than 1,600 cases and companies, and there was no other industry that piqued my interest as much as automotive,” she said. “The complexity, the challenges and the large-scale impact on our national economy were all things that drew me back. But the biggest draw was the product. Few products evoke as much emotion and passion from consumers.”
Lenard said she recently has heard more positive comments about Ford.
“My personal favorite is, ‘I’ve never considered a Ford before, but I am considering one this time.’ That’s when you know you’ve done your job well – when we’ve delivered a compelling product, reached a new consumer, and turned him or her into an advocate for Ford. That’s what my job is all about.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• On skiing vacations to the Rockies, Chantel has been known to tackle the Double-Black Diamond slopes. Double-Black Diamond slopes are by far the most difficult courses, extremely steep and often not groomed
• Chantel’s husband is a finance manager for Ford; they have two daughters, ages 7 and 5. She met her husband at Ford – they shared the same cubicle
• Chantel’s one-and-only bungee jump was years ago, in New Zealand. To ensure the length of the cord was correct, when the proprietors of the jump weighed her, she wrote her weight on her hand in permanent marker to make sure the guys down the line suiting her up wouldn’t make an error. “I’m not sure I’d do it now since I have children and more responsibilities … but it was fun”
Jens Ludmann: From Matchbox to Mass Production, Focus Chief Engineer has Cars in His Blood
It has been many years since Jens Ludmann was a car-fanatic kid in Cologne, Germany, playing religiously with his Matchbox scale-model car collection every day. Now, a stone’s throw and a few decades away, he leads a team developing an important new car on a truly global scale for Ford Motor Company.
Ford’s European base is in the Cologne suburb of Merkenich, and Ludmann is the chief program engineer for one of Ford’s most important global products – the next-generation Ford Focus.
“From the time I was 6 or 7, I was mad about cars,” says Ludmann, age 45. “I had maybe 140 Matchbox cars and I took them to school where I played with them and had races in the schoolyard.”
Today, Ludmann is working on a much larger scale as Ford prepares to launch the next-generation Focus into volume production globally. It is the flagship of a new range of global C-segment products. Ford expects to exceed 2 million units of annual production by 2012.
Cologne is the epicenter of Ford’s European small car center of excellence, where Ludmann and the Focus product-development design and engineering team is based. It’s a significant role for the hometown Cologne boy. The world is now his automotive schoolyard.
“It’s a tremendous responsibility,” says Ludmann, who joined the next-generation Focus engineering team after serving as chief program engineer for Ford of Europe on other Ford products, most recently the redesign of the Ford Galaxy and the creation of a sporty, kinetic design-infused whitespace multi-activity vehicle (MAV) called the Ford S-MAX, which won Europe’s Car of the Year honors when it was launched in 2007.
It’s a new product launch that earned him the honor of being among Automotive News Europe’s “Eurostars” list of the best executives in the European car industry.
He believes the next-generation Focus will make an even bigger impact globally.
“This is a fantastic first car from the global ONE Ford strategy,” Ludmann said.
“It’s a huge step forward for Ford in the area of fuel economy, while still doing everything it’s always done well even better. We introduce EPAS (Electric Power Assist Steering) not only without compromise, but actually with better steering feel, and we’ve made major strides in ride quality, too. It’s a great car made even better.”
Ludmann isn’t a career Ford man. He joined the company in 2000 after serving as managing director of a research engineering firm that pursued early hybrid vehicles, composite materials and other advanced technologies.
It was a chat over the breakfast table that inspired him to move into the mainstream car industry.
“I was chatting with my wife and she asked me why I studied what I did in university,” Ludmann said. “I told her that it was to study engineering cars, and her answer was ‘Well, why don’t you get a job with a car company?’”
The suggestion made Ludmann receptive to a Ford engineering-talent recruitment drive in 2000. He has since become a senior engineer for Ford, including roles in England and the United States. His current role requires extensive contact with Ford personnel around the world to ensure the next-generation Focus meets global customer expectations.
The answer is promising, he said.
“I think the time is right for global products even though historically they haven’t been very successful. But the world has moved on, I think. Communication is much better and faster these days and customer tastes around the world have moved closer together.
“The next-generation Focus has been developed as a global car from the beginning,” he added. “That makes it different from ‘global’ cars of the past, which have been developed for one region and then adapted, or federalized, for other regions. That isn’t the case with the Focus because we’ve looked at every aspect of its requirements globally.”
Perhaps especially because he is a former collector of Matchbox cars of all shapes, Ludmann seems apologetic about what’s in his garage now that he’s an adult.
“My garage is empty,” he shrugs. “Just bricks and stuff. There’s no hot car at the moment.”
That’s unusual for a senior role in the car industry and for a person who “loves everything with an engine, anything fast.” He and colleagues even drove a Mondeo touring car to a class victory last summer at the 24-hour race around the classic Nürburgring, not far from his Cologne base.
But, like his strategy for creating a new Ford C-car for the world, Ludmann has a plan.
“The garage is waiting for something special,” he said. “I’m looking for a good, used Aston Martin DB9. I’ve got just the spot for it.”
They say the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Ludmann drives a Ford S-MAX
• Ludmann and his wife have two daughters, ages 11 and 13. They reside in Cologne, Germany
• The 1965 Ford Mustang is his dream car
Juergen Puetzschler: Experience of a Driving Addict Shapes Focus Addictive Driving Experience
If there’s someone who really appreciates an addictive driving experience, it’s Juergen Puetzschler. He’s an expert when it comes to driving addiction.
Puetzschler, a 48-year-old German systems engineer, has a car enthusiast’s dream job. He’s the vehicle dynamics supervisor for Ford’s new generation of C-segment vehicles, including its star: the next-generation Ford Focus.
Two previous generations of the Ford Focus have cemented a reputation for vehicle dynamic excellence in Europe and beyond. Puetzschler and a team of vehicle dynamics engineers based in Merkenich, Germany, and Ford’s Lommel (Belgium) Proving Ground, have been working hard to hone the next-generation Focus and bring its reputation to a new level.
“When I was young, I never imagined that I would have such an important role in the automotive industry,” said the affable Puetzschler. “I was just trying to figure out why my first car wasn’t faster.”
Like many young people at the time, Puetzschler’s first car was a VW Beetle.
“I started to think about how I could improve it,” Puetzschler said. “I wanted to understand how it handled, how it steered…and why were other cars faster than mine. Eventually, I realized I needed to study automotive engineering to understand.”
After his studies in suspension system engineering and development, Puetzschler ended up at Mercedes-Benz, where he wrote a technical study on advanced suspension systems. It wasn’t long before he left to join Ford in 1993.
“I wanted to get my ideas into real cars. At Mercedes, it would have taken years to get my ideas into production. Ford gave me the chance to do that.”
His timing was ideal because Ford was about to embark on the creation of a new-generation C-segment product to replace the Ford Escort. It would be called the Ford Focus. And it would embody the thinking of Puetzschler and others who believed that vehicles should be more neutral, with less understeer, greater agility and better steering feel.
Puetzschler has been an influential player in the Focus dynamics reputation ever since. Now, he’s in charge of the Focus dynamics team on the eve of the introduction of a new car that will carry Ford in the segment globally.
Puetzschler’s responsibilities often mean time at the Lommel Proving Ground, two hours outside his Cologne-area base.
“I try to get behind the wheel as often as I can,” says Puetzschler, who estimates he spends about half his working hours driving.
And when he’s not working, he’s probably still driving. He owns a fully restored 1982 Ford Capri Mk. III, a car he fell in love with while working as a mechanic in a Ford dealership between his school and university studies.
“I got to work on all those great Capris,” Puetzschler said happily. “I loved the whole idea of the Capri from the Mk. I developed in 1969. It was all about bringing the spirit of the North American muscle car to the European roads, and it was very successful.”
But Puetzschler is yet to drive his dream car, a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback. He calls “Bullitt,” which starred Steve McQueen and a Ford Mustang, his favorite car movie. He’d also like to drive the bad guys’ Dodge Charger from that classic car film.
Puetzschler is just as likely to arrive at work on his retro classic 1100cc Kawasaki road bike as the contemporary Ford Focus or Ford Fiesta in his garage. Unlike many of his colleagues, Puetzschler doesn’t live in Cologne or the suburbs, but rather in the more distant Eifel region, just around the corner from one of the world’s most famous racing circuits, the legendary Nürburgring.
Puetzschler has accumulated many laps on the 13-mile Nordschleife, testing the next-generation Focus and other vehicles.
“The Nürburgring is a very, very demanding circuit and not just for driving dynamics. It’s also very ergonomically challenging for the driver. You’ve got to have a good setup to be as fast on the Nordschleife on lap 10 as you were when you were fresh.”
Ford tests its European vehicles on the Nürburgring circuit, often alongside similar tests from its major competitors. Puetzschler says it’s more of a gentlemen’s rivalry than spy vs. spy.
“We’re gentlemanly enough not to look under the hoods of each other’s cars,” he explained, “but it’s still a bit competitive. Not like a race, but you do feel great when your car is handling better than your competitor’s!”
Puetzschler enjoys the international teamwork that goes into Ford’s new global products. He plays a team sport, volleyball, as a hobby and has two daughters, aged 18 and 16.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Puetzschler’s garage holds a current Ford Focus, a Ford Fiesta, a 1982 Ford Capri Mk. III and a Kawasaki 1100
• Puetzschler has two children. His newly licensed, 18-year-old daughter wants a new Ford Ka
Ernst Reim: The Pilot Designer Who Shaped the Cockpit of the Next-Generation Ford Focus
Ford picked the right man to shape the cockpit feel of the next-generation Ford Focus interior since Ernst Reim’s original design inspirations were futuristic planes and helicopters.
Reim is the chief designer, Interiors, Ford of Europe, based in Merkenich, Germany, in greater Cologne.
Reim and his team have shaped the next-generation Focus interior to reflect, more than ever, the kinetic design-inspired, sleek exterior shape of the Focus and its compelling driver’s appeal – the feeling of energy in motion. The interior is just as expressive and kinetic as the exterior.
Reim, a youthful 40, calls it a cockpit interior. It’s clearly built around the driver.
Designing cockpits is nothing new to Reim, an Austrian native.
“As a child, I developed a love for moving sculptures, but more about aviation, like futuristic planes and helicopters,” Reim said. “For my first diploma at university, I created a helicopter.”
The helicopter design was noticed by the chief designer of Volkswagen, who offered Reim an internship. This led to a full-time role as interior designer at the German firm and later to a position with Ford.
“I really enjoy leading the interior design team at Ford,” Reim says. “Developing inspiring new interiors for the future is our challenge and we have a great team spirit and a positive mind-set about our future products, like the new Ford Focus.”
Reim’s next-generation Focus interior visually wraps around the driver, using expressive sculpting of the upper instrument panel surfaces to create a feeling of enveloping the driver, who now sits purposefully lower. The carefully shaped steering wheel, displays and controls are all oriented to the driver. This truly reflects the overall design spirit of this next-generation vehicle as dynamic and fun to drive.
Reim studied industrial design at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria.
He said the next-generation Focus is a major step forward from an interior design point of view.
“The environment we’ve created for the driver is very special,” he said. “The design is reflected in the carefully chosen materials throughout the cabin, and the levels of craftsmanship are extremely high. These elements come together to create a great driving experience that matches the dynamic capabilities of the car…and they are complemented by excellent ride quality and reduced noise levels in the cabin.”
Reim’s first car was a VW Beetle 1600S. “I tuned it and drove it until it fell apart!” he said. He is very specific about his favorite Ford of all time. “Oh, yes, it’s the Gulf Ford GT40 number 6, the 24 Hours of Le Mans winner in 1969, the year I was born. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful racing car of its time.”
Reim lives in the center city of Cologne and enjoys playing with his dog in the Stadtgarten park near his residence. He also enjoys photography, art, architecture and playing the piano, when he’s not keeping up with all the car magazines that are part of the trade.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Reim drives a variety of current Ford products
• He wants a blue Ford Mustang GT390 with white racing stripes and a GT40 Gulf No. 6 from the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans
• His favorite car film is James Bond’s The Spy Who Loved Me, which featured a Lotus Esprit that turned into a submarine
Martin Smith: Father of Kinetic Design Shapes the Next-Generation Ford Focus
As the latest expression of kinetic design makes its debut in the shape of the next-generation Ford Focus, its creator reflects on how this new design language that transformed the Ford product range in Europe could now have the same impact worldwide.
Martin Smith, one of Europe’s leading automotive designers, was asked in 2004 to infuse the Ford European brand with more expressive appeal. He now calls his five years with Ford a “fascinating challenge.”
“It was a fantastic creative opportunity to be entrusted with rejuvenating a great brand like Ford through design,” said Smith, who runs Ford’s European design operations from his studio outside Cologne, Germany.
Smith’s kinetic design, which has been infused into Ford’s entire European range, is now on an even bigger mission. The next-generation Ford Focus, created by Ford’s European small and medium car center of excellence, is playing an important role as Ford’s new global product strategy accelerates.
Smith points to the next-generation Focus as the latest expression of the kinetic design language.
“Kinetic design is something we can actually describe,” said Smith, a Briton who has spent most of his career as a designer in Germany. “The key elements are confident stance, dynamic lines, expressive form language, taut surfacing, bold graphics and great detailing. Together they convey movement and athleticism, and they telegraph the dynamic capabilities of our cars with that fun-to-drive spirit. It looks like the car is moving when it’s standing still.”
He remembers his first day on the job after Ford approached him to head its European design unit from Opel.
“I knew our challenge would be to design the next-generation Mondeo,” Smith said. “So I turned up at Ford with a sketch of a car that was my vision for how Mondeo could look in a different design language. And while the design of the Mondeo was already well along, management accepted my approach and mandated shifting the Mondeo’s design accordingly.”
Subsequent brainstorming with Ford’s talented design team led to the creation of the kinetic design philosophy.
“The final design for Mondeo was remarkably close to the original sketches,” Smith said.
That kind of visionary perspective is the product of the design talent and experience of one of the deans of European automotive design. Smith has had an interesting and varied career, crossing paths with the doyens of the world’s automotive families, from Ferdinand Piëch of Porsche and Audi to Bill Ford of Ford Motor Company.
“Ford’s leadership team wanted a compelling, far more emotionally appealing and expressive design approach,” Smith said. “[Ford executive] Lewis Booth put it very succinctly. He called it ‘drop-dead gorgeous cars’.”
“I found Ford’s new approach refreshing and challenging, and I was convinced I could help. The time was right for a new approach, and Ford’s challenge sparked a vision for a potential solution.”
Smith has always relished a challenge and claims actually to be working at his hobby – automobile design.
His first design job, at age 23, was with Porsche, where he was responsible for the Martini Porsche 911 RSR race car. Later, after recruitment to Audi, he designed the famous Audi Quattro as the firm’s first university-trained designer. He was still in his twenties.
“I was a car spotter as a kid,” Smith said. “I was always interested in cars, particularly the sports cars of the ’50s. I was mad about design and always sketching cars,” he said.
“I even wrote to Alec Issigonis [designer of the original Mini] and asked how to become a car designer. He wrote me a letter, which I unfortunately no longer possess, advising me to learn about engineering at university because he approached design from a technical background.”
Duly following Issigonis’ advice, Smith enrolled in Liverpool University to study mechanical engineering with the intention of becoming an automotive designer.
“I had no idea there were specialized colleges to learn specifically about designing cars,” Smith said. “Halfway through engineering school, I learned about a new school of automotive design at the Royal College of Art. I had to get in.”
Without a background in art or industrial design he was seriously disadvantaged, but Smith won a place at the college by demonstrating enthusiasm, drive and commitment, which impressed the faculty. He called his initial experience “a revelation,” and he discovered a place where others, like him, were car design fanatics.
Smith would spend nearly 20 years at Audi, influencing many products and founding an advance design studio in Munich. He is particularly proud of the Audi Avus concept car, a product of his advanced studio that was featured at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show.
Smith moved to Opel in 1997 and became the company’s design director in 2001.
J May, a designer he once hired who would become Ford’s global design chief, approached Smith in 2004 to lead Ford of Europe’s design-inspired product transformation.
Smith said his approach isn’t to shock or provoke with design.
“I want to create design that’s absolutely compelling to look at and love. My goal is to create something that’ll be the first choice of many people, which means a design that’s dramatic and pleasing. A design appealing to as many customers as possible is tremendously important because we want Ford to be seen as the design leader in the volume car market.”
Smith has high hopes that the next-generation Ford Focus could become the world’s biggest-selling car nameplate. The Ford Fiesta, another of his kinetic design creations, has already proven highly popular globally.
Looking at the compelling designs of these two leading European-designed Fords, Smith believes his greatest challenge could still be ahead of him.
“When you’ve got such a compelling design that’s resonating well, it can be daunting to consider a time in the future when we have to redesign either of these cars. They’re such great cars. That second generation of kinetic design will be a bigger challenge – but it’s the kind of challenge we designers love.”
Now, the car-spotting kid-turned-name designer is living out some of his childhood dreams.. Smith owns two 1950s British sports cars, a 1956 Jaguar XK140 roadster and a 1961 Austin Healey 3000 rally car. He and his wife Laura, also a car designer, participate in vintage rallies with cars across Europe.
Passionate skiers, Martin and Laura have a ski hut near Kitzbühel in the Austrian Alps. They are also restoring a farmhouse in the Provence region of France.
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
• Martin Smith drives a Ford Kuga with design elements from Ford’s Individual range, including an interior created by his wife Laura
• Smith lives in the old town of central Cologne, Germany, a short drive along the Rhine to the Ford of Europe Design Studio
• In addition to his classic British sports cars, Smith owns a Ferrari 512 TR