Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson
Automotive News Print Editor

Why Ford stands by its 'One Ford' philosophy

Ford's Joe Bakaj: "An example of a great global product is the Focus RS, which we now sell in the U.S."
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One argument for selling Opel to PSA is that General Motors' global engineering demands suddenly get a lot less complex.

What's more, GM's Detroit bosses say there's far less overlap between Europe and the re‎st of the world these days.

Well, Ford of Europe product development chief Joe Bakaj isn't commenting on GM's retreat from Europe, but he's adamant that Ford sees no reason to step away from its "One Ford" philosophy.

"We're still convinced that our One Ford global engineering‎ structure is working for us," he said. "You can see some of the results on our stand her‎e today.

"The Mustang last year was the No. 1 selling sports car in Europe -- it outsold the Porsche 911 in Germany. How could t‎hat happen without strong One Ford global engineering?"

‎A decade or so ago, the Mustang's manual gearshift was, Bakaj concedes, "a point of contention."

But the current Mustang shifter, developed with Getrag and refined in Europe, has been praised by finicky European car journalists.

"Through One Ford we were able to apply manual transmission expertise in Europe into the global product, and we now have a great-shifting Mustang that has done really well," he said. "That to me is a great example of how global engineering can work for us, taking the best knowledge from each region.

"‎If (Ford product development boss) Raj Nair was here he'd tell you how fortunate he is to have part of his product development team here in Europe. It's a global knowledge base."

A key factor, Bakaj says, is developing mainstream cars that will traverse the Autobahn, Autoroute and Autostrada at breakneck speeds.‎

"It does count," he says. "An example of a great global product is the Focus RS, which we now sell in the U.S."

The Focus RS was set up to go 265 kmh (165 mph) on the Autobahn every day of the week.

"When you develop a vehicle to be safe and controllable at those speeds it forces you to cascade that knowledge right down into the details of every component in the vehicle."

You can reach Richard Johnson at rjohnson@crain.com.

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