DEARBORN - At this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford introduced four global vehicles as well as an array of vehicle and technology introductions on the company’s largest-ever European stand. One of the key introductions was the Ford Evos Concept. The Ford Evos Concept introduces a new global design direction for Ford and was developed in a collaborative process by Ford’s global design team. The new design DNA showcased on the Evos Concept is a key part of the One Ford global product strategy. It provides a framework to guide the creation of new products in Ford’s design studios worldwide and key elements of the concept’s exterior and interior design language will be applied to forthcoming Ford vehicles. Ford North American Design Executive Director Moray Callum recently sat down with Ford President of The Americas Mark Fields to discuss the Ford Evos Concept and the design processes involved in developing the vehicle.
Q: Although the Ford Evos Concept itself will not be built because it is a concept, how will elements from it translate into our future products?
A: The Ford Evos Concept is important for Ford because the car showcases our design language as we move forward. There are six important elements that we want people to remember. The first is what we call silhouette innovation. The silhouette of the car needs to embody what we feel as a brand so it needs to be fun to drive. For example, it needs to look sporty. But it also needs to be differentiated from the competition which we think it very important. We think the Evos does that greatly.
The second is what we call perceived efficiency. Not just being actually aerodynamic, but looking aerodynamic; looking like it can float through the air. And that combined with the aerodynamic feel of the car, and the visual lightness in terms of the thin pillars and the airiness of the cabin, we call perceived efficiency.
The third one is actually what we call technical graphics. This is where our customers are really accessing the technology in the car first from the outside technology were using. So it's to do with the lamps, the tail lamps and all of the electronics on the outside of the car. Quite frankly, we've been guilty in the past of lamps getting bigger and bigger in the car. So we pressed the reset button and we said okay "What will technology allow us to do." So we've reduced the lamps right down to the minimal and we're calling these "laser-cut headlamps." They accentuate the technologies of the car both in the headlamps, the fog lamps and the tail lights as well.
The other one has to do with the surface language. The surface language that we've introduced on the Fiesta, Taurus and Focus we feel is pretty exciting. Now we've taken that one step further and given it a bit more refined look. Less lines and a little more sculpture to the car, so there's more flow to the surface itself. So it’s a little more sophisticated.
The next one is very important as well. It's what we call the Face of Ford. And it really is. You'll recognize in the link between the Fiesta, Focus, Taurus, even the previous Focus. We've always had what we call the trapezoidal grill of the lower mouth of the vehicle and the grill above it. What we've done is we've emphasized the trapezoidal, we've moved it up and made that the main grill of the car and that really has changed the image of the car.
The last point we think, along with the technical graphics, gives us what we call perceived premiumness. And we're not saying Ford is going to be a premium brand, but people are always aspiring to premium vehicles and we think all these moves, combined with all the other moves we've made is making these vehicles really aspirational, really premium-looking.
Q: Tell us about the interior and the joint work that you’ve done with the technology folks to your point about technology and craftsmanship. You know, the exterior is the greeting and then you open up the doors.
A: The Evos Concept is a showcase of some of our design elements of the future. Visually the interior is very exciting. You'll notice that the driver’s seat is bright red; the rest of the seats are a nice muted grey. So it really highlights the fun-to-drive aspect of it. Of course, the technology part of the interior is the part you don’t see and it's how we see our interaction with the customer of the future – the next generation of HMI (human machine interface). It has to do with how technology in the future can adapt to your driving condition, adapt to how you are as a driver, but also connect with your whole lifestyle. Connect with your iPhone, with your home, with your office. In general, provide you an interconnected driving experience.
Q: What's your favorite element of the Evos?
A: The front end. I think it is really dramatic and has a great set of proportions. The proportion of the car is always very important, but the front end is very dramatic and really is aggressive, but at the same time rally appealing as well.
Q: How has global integration worked in Design?
A: I think the Evos is a very good example of this. We have eight studios around the world. As recently as four or five years ago, I wasn’t totally aware here in North America of what was going on in each of these studios. Now, I know what is going on everyday in each of these studios, which is great.
The technology in this sort of virtual world we live in allows us to design virtually, design remotely as well. This is how the Evos has come about in terms of how it was actually designed in Germany, but it has as much input from the U.S. side of things as it has from the European side of things.
So, great move forward and really has come about with ONE Ford, emphasizing how we can work together as one group. And the great advantage also is you get design work being done 24-hours a day.
Q: Is taking a global approach to design a benefit for us here in the U.S?
A: I absolutely think that taking the talents that we have around the world have really great benefits for us here in the U.S. You've seen that in the products that we've put into the marketplace over the last couple years and you'll see that obviously going forward as we are launching a number of products over the next couple of years.
Q: Your team has expanded. Tell us a little bit about the skills and the talents of your newer designers. What are they adding to the mix?
A: We've brought in a great mix of both experienced people and younger designers as well. We've brought in as you know, Joel Piaskowski, who last year had great experience with Mercedes and Hyundai. This year we brought in Max Wolff from Cadillac to run Lincoln Design. We've also brought in a large group of younger designers who are really great to get some fresh ideas. As you know, we're trying to get our age group down to the people who want to buy Fords.
We're really trying to attract Millennials and one of the best ways to do so is with car design. So it's insightful to get insights from our new young designers about what Millennials want in the future. And by the way, it's not always the same as what we think they want.
Q: Evos is beautiful, why aren’t we going to build it?
A: First of all, it's great to hear that people want us to build the car and we think we have a real winner on our hands. As you know EVOS is a showcase of many of our design elements and should be seen as foresight of what we are going to see in the not-too-distant future in terms of Ford design DNA in some of the products we're bringing to launch.