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Ford replaces Lincoln chief designer Wolff with luxury veteran
Autonews


April 10, 2014 - 5:18 pm ET

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln brand, undergoing a $1 billion overhaul, will move forward with a new design director at the helm after quietly replacing Max Wolff.

Wolff, hired from General Motors four years ago, remains at Lincoln, in charge of exterior design of the brand’s models, said Stephane Cesareo, a company spokesman. David Woodhouse, who joined Ford in 1999 from GM to head Ford’s former European luxury lines, is his successor.

The change was apparently made in December, according to Woodhouse’s LinkedIn profile. Ford didn’t announce the reshuffle, though the company heralded Wolff’s hiring from GM’s Cadillac luxury line in December 2010.

In a statement at the time, Ford cited Wolff for bringing a “fresh perspective that will challenge us internally and take Lincoln to new levels of prestige.”

Ford made the move because more design resources were needed to handle the rapid redesign of Lincoln’s product line, which includes four new models in four years, Cesareo said after a briefing on Lincoln’s growth plans. Ford didn’t announce the move because the automaker no longer issues a press release for job promotions below the vice president level, Cesareo said.

“Much like we’ve expanded our global marketing team, design needs that too,” said Sam Locricchio, another Lincoln spokesman. “More bodies and more resources dedicated solely to Lincoln is always the goal to get the brand where it needs to be.”

Mulally’s goal

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is trying to revive Lincoln to get a larger slice of the lucrative luxury car market. Lincoln’s annual U.S. sales last year had fallen by 65 percent since peaking in 1990 at 231,660.

“This is a sign that what they’re doing isn’t working,” said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst and former product planner at Ford. “If they’re trying to compete with Mercedes and BMW, they’re not in the same galaxy. Lincoln doesn’t have a memorable and distinctive design signature yet.”

As chief designer of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, Woodhouse previously oversaw the styling of Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Volvo, the luxury brands Mulally sold after he arrive at Ford in 2006 from Boeing Co.

Woodhouse was previously director of Lincoln strategy from July to December 2013 and he ran Ford’s advanced design studio in California from 2004 to 2009. He was assistant chief designer at GM in 1998 and 1999.

MKZ production

Immediately after arriving in 2010, Wolff reworked the design of the MKZ sedan, the first car to sport Lincoln’s new look, which features an expansive chrome grille inspired by an eagle’s outstretched wings. Production problems at the Mexican plant that built the MKZ stalled the introduction of Lincoln’s comeback car early last year, sending the brand’s sales plunging to the lowest level in more than 30 years.

Now the MKZ is selling well and has helped to drive up the Lincoln brand’s U.S. sales 36 percent this year, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Read more.....
 

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What I wrote on GMI:

Something worries me in this article. Lincoln shouldn't be attached to the One Ford. Lincoln needs to be different from Ford, that's the main problem they have. Why not have those Lincoln only platform and make it profitable by expanding Lincoln worldwide? This could bring a lot of money to Ford and they should know it. Only thinking in what ways they can save money will only hurt Lincoln on the long run, they will only be compared with Acura and that's a shame.
 

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I was just reading this on there website. I hope this is more of Wolff concentrating on exterior design than a demotion. Ford has to be willing to modify the platforms for Lincoln to progress. This doesn't sound good.
 

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IS extremely rare this move. Why to remove Wolff from the top of the design department and let him to run the exterior? Some one at Ford Motor are not confortable with the Wolff's work? Is Mullaly this guy ? Why Wolff accept this demotion? Is the mediocre interior of the MK Z the reason of this move? Maybe some Wollf's personal reasons are involved in this issue?
You dont change the horse in the middle of the river that you are crossing ...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I was just reading this on there website. I hope this is more of Wolff concentrating on exterior design than a demotion. Ford has to be willing to modify the platforms for Lincoln to progress. This doesn't sound good.
Most luxury consumers don't know or care what an automobile platform is. All they may know or care about is if it's FWD, RWD or AWD.

Which is why the FWD MKZ is outselling the RWD ATS and CTS YTD.

The automotive press will obsess about shared platforms, only when it's an American company, and even then it's on a car they can't even afford.

VW and Audi, Toyota and Lexus, Honda and Acura, Chevy/Buick and Cadillac, Nissan and Infiniti all do the same where models overlap. Increasing a wheelbase an inch here and there and giving it a new code name is not a new platform. It's just how business works in auto manufacturing.

Mercedes and BMW have no non-luxury brand to share with....yet. BMW will soon be sharing with Toyota in an attempt to benefit from cost sharing of platforms with higher volume models.
 

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Most luxury consumers don't know or care what an automobile platform is. All they may know or care about is if it's FWD, RWD or AWD.

Which is why the FWD MKZ is outselling the RWD ATS and CTS YTD.

The automotive press will obsess about shared platforms, only when it's an American company, and even then it's on a car they can't even afford.

VW and Audi, Toyota and Lexus, Honda and Acura, Chevy/Buick and Cadillac, Nissan and Infiniti all do the same where models overlap. Increasing a wheelbase an inch here and there and giving it a new code name is not a new platform. It's just how business works in auto manufacturing.

Mercedes and BMW have no non-luxury brand to share with....yet. BMW will soon be sharing with Toyota in an attempt to benefit from cost sharing of platforms with higher volume models.
Go sit in a Passat and then sit on the A6, then you will understand why Lincoln needs to be more independent. The GS is not a Camry or an Avalon, and the CTS is not a Malibu or an Impala. Acura is in the same neighborhood and look where they are now.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
“This is a sign that what they’re doing isn’t working,” said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst and former product planner at Ford. “If they’re trying to compete with Mercedes and BMW, they’re not in the same galaxy. Lincoln doesn’t have a memorable and distinctive design signature yet.”

What a bonehead comment. It's like complaining that you haven't won the game after the first play.

Lincoln has no NEW models that directly competes with BMW or Mercedes.....yet.

Lincoln has 4 new cars to launch by end of 2015. The first hit was a home run. So far the MKZ, up 145% YTD......is the only new model launched and is outselling ATS and CTS, outsold ES Hybrid for March, and just had the highest sales of the MKZ model ever in March. As of March, sales for the Lincoln Brand are up 35.5% over 2013. Which looks like what Lincoln is doing is working out quite well.

Next up.....production starts for the eagerly anticipated New 2015 MKC on April 21st, with units hitting dealers in May. Sales of the MKC are expected to surpass the MKZ

Next up.....re-imagioned 2015 Navigator. Until the new model arrives, the extensive refresh should help the icon increase it's sales by at lease 50%

And it's just been 34 months since Ford announced the investment of $1 Billion to start the re-inventing Lincoln.
 

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Jose :thumb: broke this story almost a month ago
"Breaking: Design SHAKEUP @ Lincoln"


LetsRace said:
What I wrote on GMI:
Something worries me in this article. Lincoln shouldn't be attached to the One Ford...
remember, L.R.,
"Ford" can either refer to the Brand OR the whole corporation.
Imho, it really should be "One FoMoCo"
&
LetsRace said:
...Which product we might see next?
the "4" vehicles are the MKZ - MKC - MKX - MKS(wic)
so
unless something has changed, we'll see the MKX next
 

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Jose :thumb: broke this story almost a month ago
"Breaking: Design SHAKEUP @ Lincoln"



remember, L.R.,
"Ford" can either refer to the Brand OR the whole corporation.
Imho, it really should be "One FoMoCo"
&
the "4" vehicles are the MKZ - MKC - MKX - MKS(wic)
so
unless something has changed, we'll see the MKX next
But when? Everything is too quiet in the Lincoln stable, not good for a brand that doesn't want to be forgotten in the automotive landscape.
 

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I think I would probably faint if I ever read a pseudo journalist say anything other than the same old dreck, that current Lincoln is no comparison to established premium German brands. No kidding.

And well said bloggin, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Couple things you missed.
New powertrains, new performance variants, new premium luxury interiors, new luxury features not seen before, new technology, all wrapped in gorgeous style. I have seen enough of the next MKS now to realize, it is a winner. MKZ is a good start, that will get much better. MKC is far better looking than any mercedes or bmw in it's class, as will be the MKX. And with the MKS taking it up several notches, plus a few more surprises, how can we not expect sales to increase 300 to 400 % in coming years. Of course, that still won't be good enough for some.


Screw those folks. Lincoln fans will benefit from marvelous product, and if they accomplish this minus the marvelous price tag, more power to them and us.
 

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The thread title concerned me considering if I'm a fan of anything Lincoln it's the styling of the two recent additions exteriors! Good to see Max will have more time to focus on the area in which he excelled. It's not another change in direction, just a change who gives direction!
 

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not sure if it is right for Max to decrease in position BUT what I like of this is that he is Exterior design maneger! a job in which he is a genius :D
 

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I have seen enough of the next MKS now to realize, it is a winner. And with the MKS taking it up several notches
FINALLY! it is good to see that you think it is a winner, I have high expectations for this MKS, hope it is a real competitor in its segment, can´t wait :D
 

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Wolff, a highly regarded designer originally from Australia, may have encountered resistance to his efforts to further differentiate Lincoln cars from the Ford models upon which they are based, Wolkonowicz said. Mulally’s “One Ford” strategy seeks to reduce costs and increase profits by using common parts and mechanical foundations for models worldwide.

“Max Wolff is an incredibly talented guy,” said Wolkonowicz, who is based in Boston. “But they don’t want to violate One Ford because One Ford saved that company.”

maybe this is the reason? Max wanted a Lincoln version of the CTS-v and they people above him said No?
 

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These analysts are usually full of s***. If they were so right about everything, JCP and Sears would be out of business right now.

FIN broke this story a month ago, and Automotive News is just now talking about it. This is further proof that journalism is America is going to ****.
 

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Wolff, a highly regarded designer originally from Australia, may have encountered resistance to his efforts to further differentiate Lincoln cars from the Ford models upon which they are based, Wolkonowicz said. Mulally’s “One Ford” strategy seeks to reduce costs and increase profits by using common parts and mechanical foundations for models worldwide.

“Max Wolff is an incredibly talented guy,” said Wolkonowicz, who is based in Boston. “But they don’t want to violate One Ford because One Ford saved that company.”

maybe this is the reason? Max wanted a Lincoln version of the CTS-v and they people above him said No?
He's speculating. He doesn't have any proof that was the case.
 

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I'm still hoping David Woodhouse is mainly there to
- free Max up for the big new model push
- take over the adminsitrative side
- maybe move interiors up a "wow-level"

judging strictly from the exterior design progression/escalation we've already seen (GENIUS!),
I can see Max someday(soon!) as "Chief Creative Officer", J Mays old title
 

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Sounds like in the end this could be a positive, and for me is a big vote of confidence in Wolff's ability as a designer; otherwise, he wouldn't still be in a role overseeing Lincoln design!

I'm a fan of Wolff, and glad he is still going to be designing Lincolns...
 
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