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Callum to lead next phase of Ford US design

All change: Moray Callum will lead Ford's design team in the US.

Moray Callum leads Ford US design as Peter Horbury is sent back to Volvo

Ford logo6 Apr 2009

THE Ford Motor Co shocked the automotive world last week when it restructured its global design team, sending North American design chief Peter Horbury back to Volvo and replacing him with close colleague and former Mazda chief designer Moray Callum.

At the same time, Mazda Motor Corporation announced the resignation of chief designer Laurens van den Acker, the Ford designer who replaced Mr Callum in May 2006 when the latter was brought back to the Blue Oval brand’s Dearborn headquarters to work under Mr Horbury – and global design chief J Mays – and breathe new life into the company’s expanding North American passenger-car line-up.

Replacing Mr van den Acker – who has left “to pursue other interests” – is Ikuo Maeda, the chief designer of Mazda’s strategic design studio and the architect of the current RX-8 and Mazda2.

Back at Ford, Mr Callum moves from his position as Ford Americas’ director of car design to become executive director of Ford Americas design overall.

 center imageFrom left: Ikuo Maeda, Laurens van den Acker and Peter Horbury.

In turn, Mr Horbury returns to the position of design vice-president at Volvo Cars, based in Gothenburg, Sweden. He replaces Stephen Mattin, the former DaimlerChrysler designer who joined Volvo in 2005 and has now left “to purse other opportunities”.

“Peter has a deep knowledge of Volvo and understands how to use the power of design to define a brand,” said Mr Mays. “Peter was the creative force behind the new Lincoln design language and before that, some of the most successful Volvo designs.

“He is the right person to take Volvo design to new heights in the coming years.”

Mr Mays said Mr Callum’s “global background” and successful track record at Ford in the Americas and Europe, as well as at Mazda, had positioned him to lead Ford’s North American design as the Blue Oval moves into a new era of global products. He will be responsible for all Ford cars and trucks, and Lincoln and Mercury products.

Mr Horbury led Volvo design from 1991 to 2002, relinquishing the role to become executive director of design for Ford’s now-defunct Premier Automotive Group, which made him responsible for Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover as well as Volvo. He was promoted to the top job in North American design in January 2004.

In an exclusive interview with AutoWeek magazine, Mr Horbury said his return to Volvo – the Ford-owned brand currently up for sale – was not a demotion.

“Physically I’m going back, yes ... but mentally I’m taking a stride forward,” he said, adding that he understood the risks involved with Ford having announced that a buyer was being sought for Volvo.

“(It is) always wise to be on board the ship before it sails. That’s what I’m doing ... making sure I’ve got a cabin. I can’t worry about that. They’ve asked me to do this ...Volvo has asked me. Of course anything you do, any move you make, there’s a degree of risk. I like that. I’d hate to know the future. Maybe that’s a designer’s trait.

“I think this is an exciting move. If there’s no risk, it’s not exciting. Who knows? Who knows who the owners will be? I certainly don’t. I’m confident enough to think that if I’ve been asked to do this, I think I can persuade anybody I can do a good job for them.”

Volvo Cars president and CEO Stephen Odell said: “Peter is returning to Volvo at the perfect time to lead the design team in developing the next generation of Volvo products.

“He will play an important role in taking our Scandinavian design language to the next level and ensure we continue to develop attractive cars for the premium market.”

Ford relinquished its controlling interest in Mazda last year. Mr Maeda has worked for the Japanese brand since 1982 and, as GoAuto reported last year, his dream is to design an all-new RX-7 sportscar – following in the footsteps of his father Matasaburo Maeda, who designed the defining first-generation RX-7 ahead of its world debut in 1978.

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