Never mind all the talk about an alliance between Ford Motor Co. and Nissan or General Motors. Another partner would make much more sense. I think Ford should negotiate an alliance with Ford of Europe.
Think of the synergies! Ford North America makes big, lumbering pickups. Ford of Europe makes small cars. Ford North America makes SUVs that blot out the sky. Ford of Europe makes fuel-efficient people movers. The two sides could negotiate an alliance quickly.
Ford desperately needs a new generation of stylish, practical small cars and crossovers to satisfy fuel-conscious American consumers. And Fords European operation has the goods.
A sporty new Mondeo wagon goes on sale in Europe next year. Ford designer Martin Smith calls the look kinetic design. The Iosis crossover concept also shows the possibilities of kinetic design.
Ford North America is studying what European products could be adapted. It seems clear that the Mondeo, S-Max and future-generation Fiesta are all candidates.
We are having intense conversations about everything. Nothing is off the table, said Richard Parry-Jones, Ford group vice president for global product development.
Ford has tried this before – with mixed results. But the company is now taking a new approach. Parry-Jones is commonizing the product development systems of Ford North America, Ford of Europe and Mazda. Key personnel moves between the three companies. The bottom line: These guys all know each other, and they are accustomed to working together. That gives them a chance to cut through Fords red tape.
Will Ford of Europes kinetic design find favor in America? Its US prospects seem murky. Mark Fields, Fords president of the Americas, has said cars sold in the US should feature bold American designs. Thus, Ford North America may decide to borrow the European cars under-the-skin mechanicals, rather than their look.
But I think Americans are ready for a taste of Europe. Kinetic design – at least the Mondeos interpretation of it – could enliven a plain-vanilla US product lineup that has turned off American consumers.
E-mail David Sedgwick at [email protected]