Ford’s Chief car designer
Los Angeles, CA – J Mays, global head of design for Ford Motor Corporation, talked about who Ford designs cars for in the industry.
Does Mays like lines, or a lack of lines?
How has all the technology in Ford’s vehicles changed the way Ford designs cars?
Lou Ann Hammond Drivingthenation: Hi I’m Lou Ann Hammond, driving the nation.com. I’m here with J. Mays, global head of design for Ford Motor Corporation.
When you’re designing cars do you start in one place or do you just look at the design of the vehicle, how do you do it?
J. Mays Ford Motor Corporation: Today, by starting with the customer we know exactly who the customers that will be driving the car, what their needs are, as importantly what their aspirations are, how they want to see themselves behind the wheel. And that gives us a very good indication of how that would use the car, what the perception is that they want to feel when they’re driving the car, and frankly, how they will be seen in their peer group or from their friend’s as to the type of they purchased and drive.
Lou Ann Hammond Drivingthenation: Difference is a different type of line when you design the car or a lack of lines?
J. Mays Ford Motor Corporation: That’s a good question. The lines that we put on the car have to communicate visual premiums. They have to have tailored and refined look about them, and we think a of the cars you see now in Ford showrooms around the world look like premium luxury cars but a far more available price. We made a decision about three years ago that although Ford is a mainstream brown, we wanted to give our customers a premium experience.
So that doesn’t mean we wanted to charge more money for the car because we’re keeping the prices about the same they’ve always been, but what we do want to deliver is a premium experience both in the way the car looks but also in the way it drives and the way it feels on the interior of the vehicle. And now we’re doing so well with the Fiesta, we’re doing great with Flex, we’re doing extremely well with Escape, the current vehicle, so of course, it gives us great pleasure to be rolling the new Escape out today at the Los Angeles show.
J. Mays Ford Motor Corporation: As we’ve gotten more into the human-machine interface side of the thing and as we pioneered Synch on our vehicles and allow people to have hands free communication on their telephones- there are now apps in cars just like there are on your smartphones- all that has changed the way we design. Particularly the interface of the human-machine interface on the center stack of the vehicle, and also on the controls of the steering wheel. We’re continuing to simplify because ultimately our goal is not to distract the customer but allow the customer’s eyes to go back to the road even if they happen to be doing a telephone call. And it’s human nature that people are going to talk on telephones in their cars; we would rather customers be doing it hands-free with a simple environment around them than holding a cell phone with one hand and driving with the other.