Richard Parry-Jones, Ford Motor Co.'s British head of global product development, is busy finding synergies and creating new centers of excellence as the company adds new brands to its group. Parry-Jones, based in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, spoke about the possibilities and pitfalls with Automotive News Europe reporter Georg Auer.
How do you put technology and design to the most cost effective use in this new Ford family?
I quote Volvo, which has a very well-developed competency in very advanced electrical switching systems for communications. Rather than recreate that competency in Dearborn we said to Volvo: You carry on and we will give you a little bit more money and with that more money you can provide a service directly to Ford as well as providing your own Volvo technology.
So that has become a center of expertise for electrical switching systems for the whole company. The same applies to safety to a certain extent.
Then there is a second area of technology, the one that differentiates the brands. We analyzed what the brands really stand for: How they translate into special features in those vehicles and what technologies we have to use to sustain leadership in those features.
Volvo will be the technology lead for safety. Volvo will develop what it needs to differentiate itself from the rest of the industry. It will be shared by the other vehicle brands maybe not at the identical time, but we can quickly roll out the intelligence to the other brands.
What about sharing platforms and systems?
We are converging all the front-wheel-drive architectures and this applies to engines and transmissions as well. We will have a great deal of sharing of systems between Mazda, Ford and certainly parts of Volvo, where essentially the architecture is front-wheel-drive.
There is very little opportunity to share this kind of hardware with the rear-wheel-drive families Jaguar and Lincoln.
Isn't there danger of losing brand individuality, as happened with the Mazda 121 that was built in a Ford Fiesta plant? You now have a practically identical SUV for Ford and Mazda.
We intend to keep up the brand differentiation. The Mazda 121 was a technical move not a way of sustaining a differentiation of brands.
The differentiation came with the follow-up to the 121, the Mazda Demio that has taken over the role of the 121 in Europe. I would agree though that the Ford Maverick and the Mazda Tribute look like identical vehicles.
They are not, though they share a lot of details. But the interior is unique and the exterior sheet metal is unique apart from the doors.
To see where we are going look at the Lincoln LS versus the Jaguar S Type. These models share a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that the customer really doesn't handle. In character, in style, in interaction with the customer, they are totally unique vehicles. That is where we intend to end up between Mazda and Ford.