This is how important Ford judged the new Puma to be to the company’s European success: During development of the small SUV company executives green-lighted expensive modifications to the car’s existing platform instead of looking for opportunities to save money.
The Puma is based on same small-car underpinnings as the Fiesta, but Ford of Europe’s designers knew that platform would not deliver the look they needed.
“Ford of Europe has the highest number of customers who put exterior first among reasons to buy, so, we knew from Day One we needed to have that ‘wow’ effect,” Ford of Europe design boss Amko Leenarts said.
To do that engineers would need to widen the track of the B2 platform and enable it to accept bigger wheels.
That would give the Puma the more muscular look the design team wanted. But they would need approval from Ford of Europe’s executive team, led at that point of the process by Jim Farley (he is now the automaker’s global head of businesses, technology and strategy).
Platform sharing works best when as many parts as possible are carried over. That includes chassis parts. Volkswagen’s MQB architecture is a good example. The plan for the Puma, however, would require new suspension and chassis parts.
“It was a difficult decision at the beginning,” said Sigurd Limbach, vehicle line director for Ford of Europe’s small cars. “Should we invest all this money in the platform to make the Puma happen?”