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Australia ‘a conduit to China’ for Ford
Ford’s new design chief highlights Australian design studio role in China push
21 May 2014
FORD’S new global design chief has described the company’s Melbourne-based Asia-Pacific design studio as Ford’s “conduit to China” – the world’s biggest auto market.
And just to prove his regard for the studio, Mr Callum has promoted the past two heads of the Australian centre as design team leaders in Ford’s home territory of North America.
Head of Asia-Pacific design in Australia until early 2013, Chris Svensson – an Englishman – is Ford’s new lead designer for the Americas, while the most recent head of the Australian studio, Craig Metros, is heading to the United States to become exterior design chief.
Scottish-born Mr Callum, who replaced veteran Jay Mays as Ford’s global design vice-president late last year, told United States industry journal Automotive News that the experience of the pair in Asia was a key factor in their appointment.
He said Ford expected its design leaders to know what was going on in global markets.
From top: Ford's Chris Svensson and Craig Metros.
“With Chris and Craig having worked in Asia Pacific, it’s really important to us,” he said.
China is Ford’s fastest-growing market, while India is also a critical growth area for the Blue Oval brand.
Asia Pacific designers and engineers have worked on vehicles for both markets in recent times, as well as key global products such as the Ranger ute and its SUV spin-off, the Everest.
Ford’s Australian engineers played a part in the recently unveiled Escort small car for China, while also working on a new large car that might also play a part in Ford's future in China.
Detroit-born Mr Metros worked at Ford’s Melbourne base for five years, helping to oversee the design of the Ranger and Everest. He replaced Mr Svensson as head of Asia-Pacific design when the latter was called up to Dearborn in January 2013.
Mr Callum, 55, told Automotive News that Chinese customers were particularly picky about the quality of materials and craftsmanship on interiors.
Ford is about to embark on the launch phase for its Lincoln luxury brand in China where rivals Cadillac and Audi, in particular, have a massive head start.
The company recently previewed the Lincoln MKX SUV at the Beijing motor show – the first time a Lincoln has been launched outside North America.
Five Lincoln models will be launched on the Chinese market by 2016, including a large car that is expected to be the replacement for the MKS.
Unlike his colleagues, Mr Callum never worked at the Asia-Pacific design centre, but has visited on business several times.
And as a former head designer with Mazda, Mr Callum would have a special knowledge of Australia, which is one of Mazda’s key markets. Among other tasks, Mr Callum designed the Mazda2 light car for the Japanese manufacturer.
Mr Callum also would be well acquainted with former Holden designer Max Wolff, who was until recently head of design for Ford luxury brand Lincoln. While Mr Wolff is still with Lincoln as head of exterior design, he appears to have been demoted in the recent round of appointments.
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