Ford Design Chief On The Future – Quiet and Timeless is Better. Thinks Hyundai's Fluidic Too Fussy

POSTED BY admin ON 19 January 2012

J Mays at NAIAS 2012

J Mays is Ford Motor Company’s group vice president of design and chief creative officer. He graduated from the highly acclaimed Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in California, an alma matter to many of today’s most talented automotive designers. Some his more famous works includes the Audi TT, where he was design director, the Audi Avus concept car and Concept 1 which previewed the New Bettle. J Mays joined Ford in 1997 and was credited for developing the global Ford Design language now seen in all global Ford vehicles. It doesn’t matter whether are you a fan of Ford or not, when J Mays speaks, the design world sits up and listen.

At the recent Delhi Auto Expo, Australian publication GoAuto had an interview with J Mays, who revealed Ford’s next design direction.

We’ve come up of an evolution of the design language based on Kinetic, but we’re not calling it Kinetic Design because we’ve had it for five years and we’ve come up with enough changes to the philosophy that we’ll follow the New Global Design Language,” said Mays, who also said Ford’s future designs will avoid the current trappings of automotive ‘fashion’ but instead strive to create a timeless style that will age well.

Premium doesn’t have to scream; premium can talk quieter,” he said.

You get a lot of frenetic design out there. If you think of Hyundai – and I’m not criticising Hyundai; it’s just a different philosophy – theirs is all over the map, really loud and fussy. And I don’t think that’s premium and I don’t think that’s sustainable. So if we’re going to have one foot in front of the other and have this brand fall into a more premium look, not a premium price, then I think we have to have something that will still look good in seven or eight years. 

That’s the idea on future models – and you’ll see this on Fusion – that our cars will have a more tailored feel about them. And if you tailor a thing, it’s less about fashion and more about the cut of a suit.”

Ford Evos Concept, preview of the series production Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

Ford’s new design direction was first previewed in the Evos Concept, which has since been translated into production form in the latest US market Ford Fusion. Built on Ford’s new generation C/D platform, Ford’s CEO and ex-Boeing boss Alan Mulally has since announced that like all new platforms developed under the One Ford product-platform rationalization plan, the C/D platform will spawn 10 different models (including different body type variants). In 2007 Ford had 27 platforms. Ford’s group vice president and global marketing Jim Farley, an ex-Toyota product planner says that by 2013, total platform count will be reduced to by two-thirds, to just 9 platforms. Out of the 9 platforms, 5 will be global platforms; B for Fiesta, C for Focus, C/D for Fusion/Mondeo, Light Truck for the Ranger pick-up truck, and Commercial for the Transit van. The remaining 4 platforms will be regional platforms for models too important to be culled but are yet too distinct to be shared. The North American market F-150 truck and Mustang are two of such examples. The remaining two platforms are yet to be specified by Ford.

As a consequence of this platform rationalization, the general design and structure of the Fusion is likely to be adapted for many other sedans, including the Mondeo sedan which is sold in Malaysia and the US market Taurus sedan, and Explorer SUV.

J Mays have made an important point regarding the sustainability of Hyundai’s Fluidic design language. Only time will tell how well will the current generation Sonata, Tucson, Elantra and Veloster, all penned with Hyundai’s Fluidic theme, will age as the years wear on. There is always a trade-off between a timeless design and a trendy design. Trendy doesn’t age well and timeless doesn’t wow at first sight. But for a young brand like Hyundai, a brand that is just starting to develop its own identity, we still think the slightly more trendy design path followed is a more appropriate direction. Unlike a 100-year old company like Ford or J May’s previous employers BMW, Audi, Hyundai have very little heritage to draw upon and it needs to grow as fast as it can.

At this coming March’s Geneva Motor Show, Hyundai will be showcasing its i-oniq concept, developed at Hyundai’s European R&D centre in Rüsselsheim, Germany. It is unclear if i-oniq is a preview to any upcoming Hyundai production model or is purely just a design study. The i-oniq is expected to point to the next evolution of Hyundai’s Fluidic design language. Hyundai will gradually release more information on the i-oniq in build up leading to March’s Geneva Motor Show. In meantime, we only have the silhouette sketch.


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