Ford’s New Design Language
While Ford has arguably set a new standard vis-à-vis the styling of cars with its Fiesta and Focus, both of which are predicated on the kinetic design language that was established in the Ford of Europe studio (this, of course, was before “One Ford”) with the iosis concept that was presented at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the Evos Concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Show, it is kicking the doors off of even what those cars are accomplishing in the market.
Martin Smith, Ford’s executive design director for Europe and Asia Pacific, who is largely responsible for the look of the Fiesta and Focus, said, “The overwhelmingly positive response to cars like the Fiesta and Focus gave the Design team confidence that our original kinetic design approach resonated with consumers around the world. With our new global design DNA, we have retained the same dynamic character, but with a more technical execution and a distinctively premium feel.”
And this new form vocabulary, captured in the Evos, is one that J Mays, Ford group vice president, Design and chief creative officer, said “provides a clear direction for a whole new generation of models.” As in being applicable not just to cars, but to crossovers and other types of vehicles, as well.
What’s more, this isn’t pie-in-the-sky conceptualizing: “We wanted the Ford Evos Concept to give a clear message about where Ford design is heading—shaping vehicles that are fun to drive, have a premium appeal but, above all, are stunningly beautiful. The first fruit of this vision will be ready sooner than you might think—you’ll see it in around four months rather than four years. We can’t wait to introduce the first production car to include this new Ford design to our global customers.”
The drumbeat with the word global continues with a comment from Moray Callum, executive design director for Ford North America: “The new global DNA establishes a framework which enables our designers to create the next generation of great looking products, all sharing a distinctive Ford character. A common DNA doesn’t mean identical looking products, however. The design language is flexible enough for different sizes and types of vehicles, so that customers around the world will be able to recognize it as a new Ford.”
So what are the nucleotides of this design DNA?
—Silhouette: Creates a distinctive profile for future Ford products. Meant to exhibit sportiness and fun-to-drive characteristics.
—Efficient shape: The Evos has a fastback roof. Which says “aero.” And aero means more efficient (as in going through the air). In addition to which, there are slim roof pillars, which signify a certain lightness of being.
—Surface language: In Ford’s verbiage: “While some competitors have imitated the lines of Ford’s kinetic design language”—and we’re guessing that they’re glossing Hyundai—“Mays and his team are moving to a simpler approach that emphasizes refinement without losing character.” Strong but simple.
—Technical graphics: Nowadays, lights—headlamps, in particular—are becoming smaller and, as in this case, arguably somewhat sinister.
—New Ford face: The trapezodialesque grille on the Focus and Fiesta is modified in that it is moved upward on the fascia. Watch this happen sooner than some of the other elements.
Clearly two things have happened. (1) Ford has recognized that well-designed products have a tremendous market appeal (something that might seem like a blinding flash of the obvious, but a quick glance at a parking lot will establish more than a few dubious design decisions); (2) Ford has recognized that some companies—like the aforementioned Hyundai—are putting a lot of muscle behind their designs, so to continue to be competitive, they have to keep moving.
Topology optimization cuts part development time and costs, material consumption, and product weight. And it works with additive, subtractive, and all other types of manufacturing processes, too.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
Hyundai's product onslaught continues with a new compact that's bigger, more stylish and more efficient than its predecessor. And its development cycle is faster than the competition.