As Ford has divested all of their luxury brands, save for Lincoln, and shuttered the Mercury brand, the focus of the design team can be concentrated on their core products. In addition to slimming down the design portfolio, a change of leadership occurred recently as the legendary J Mays left to take some much needed time off after such a fabled career. Moray Callum, who has been with Ford since 1988, is now tasked with overseeing a portfolio that brings with it some unique challenges. Ford has gone all-aluminum with their F-150, entered the supercar category again with the GT, reintroduced an all-new Mustang, refreshed their compacts, entered China with Lincoln, and the most daring move yet, bet $4.5 billion on electrification with the goal of several models by 2020. Design is the first thing people see and with the innovations and future aspirations pursued by Ford, Callum has his hands full putting his own mark on the company and most importantly driving sales with cars that inspire emotion. A recent commercial emphasizes that point with a crowd forming around the GT and a child breaking the cycle. We had a chance to get a one-on-one with Callum. Our dialogue follows.
Damola Idowu: So Moray introduce yourself and what do you do with Ford?
Moray Callum: My name is Moray Callum. I’m vice president of design for Ford.
Damola Idowu: So talk about your career at Ford thus far.
Moray Callum: Well, I actually started at Ford in Europe, in Italy and in Ghia in 1988…so I’ve been at Ford for a while now. I’ve worked in Italy for a few years doing some concept cars and some [other] cars for Ghia and then in 1995 I moved to the states as a design manager. So I was a design manager and a design chief in the US and then in 2001 I actually went to Mazda. So when Ford and Mazda were still collaborating, I became head of design at Mazda between 2001 and 2006 and then returned to the states and…then was given the vice president’s job at the beginning of this year.
Damola Idowu: So which cars have you worked on? Obviously, the Mustang, but which cars [have] been in your portfolio in the past because Ford had a lot of brands?
Moray Callum: Yeah, well I obviously got a lot of the Mazdas from the first-generation Mazda3 up to the second-generation Mazda6, I was responsible for all the Mazdas at that point so the Miata, the MX-5, the Mazda5, the Mazda6, Mazda2 as well. So a lot of these cars I was responsible for the first generation.
Damola Idowu: And then now you are in charge of the whole portfolio, but Ford has now consolidated everything to one Ford vision.
Moray Callum: Ford and Lincoln…
Damola Idowu: Ford and Lincoln, that’s what I was getting to and in fact the EcoBoost engine that’s in the Mustang…the 2.3-liter EcoBoost that’s in the Mustang – there are some similarities to the 2.3 EcoBoost that’s in the MKC. So talk about that…how are you now re-designing the platform and shifting how you’re managing the resources that’s available in your portfolio?
Moray Callum: Well, obviously, Lincoln is a very important brand for us and I think you can see – you mentioned the MKC and I think you’ll see that we’re expanding. We’re expanding the difference between the Lincoln and the Ford products. If you look at the MKC, it’s just a product [link to] the Escape and the MKC – it’s lower, it’s wider, so the proportions have been changed with Lincoln so that obviously gives more work for us to actually differentiate the brand. So we’re really balancing the workload, prioritizing Lincoln in some areas in terms of the premium market and at the same time we have a lot of Ford products to do globally also.
Damola Idowu: But with EcoBoost there has been a tremendous success for Ford. You’ve been able to get tremendous power and astonishing fuel-efficiency, I mean you’re able to put a 2.7-liter engine in [an] F-150 which is a heavy-duty and getting it to almost 9,000 pounds. [I’m] looking to see what that SAE is, obviously, and there’s estimates that you might even approach 30 miles per gallon on a pick-up without electrification. So what are you guys doing?
Moray Callum: Well I think, you know, obviously, I’m not the engine designer so you need to probably ask the engine guy that. But…we know that fuel economy is a major reason for everyone to buy a product. So we’re aiming for best-in-class fuel-economy in all the products we do so…the EcoBoost technology has really helped us achieve that. And I think the interesting thing with Mustang, for example…we are going to offer the 4-cylinder EcoBoost, but there are still a lot of traditionalists amongst us that will want the V8 as well, so we’ll also offer the V8 and the V6 option, too.
Damola Idowu: Of course. And speaking about design, so the Evo language which was the concept that was there…
Moray Callum: The Evos, yes.
Damola Idowu: Evos, that’s what I mean. The Evos came out a few years ago, so talk about how did that translate to this actual 2015 Mustang?
Moray Callum: Actually, the Evos car is actually really showing – demonstrating the design language we were going to launch on the (unclear) Fusion. So it was actually – it was done as really as an indicator for that. It was never seen as a Mustang proposal. A lot of people said is that a Mustang proposal but there never was a Mustang proposal. And quite frankly the Mustang needs to have its own design language. The Mustang is an icon in itself and we really try, you know, to separate the Mustang design language from everything else because people see it as purely Mustang and less part of the portfolio of the brand.
Damola Idowu: But it seems like the front end, especially, is translated across a lot of the product lines.
Moray Callum: Yeah the front end. There are slight similarities with the front end and the grill graphic, but there’s also a lot of traditional Mustang in the front end as well. That was really what we were trying to capture. It was really important for people to recognize it instantly as a Mustang, but what we did do is we changed the aspect ratio of the head lamps and the grill to make it look wider as well as we wanted to sort of communicate this improved stance of the vehicle, so the vehicle is lower; the vehicle is wider; and that’s really what the design is communicating in terms of the overall aspect ratio of the front.
Damola Idowu: So talk about the process, too, because we’re also seeing more flowing lines. It seems like you’ve curved a lot of the language in a lot of the Ford portfolio. You know I used to own Expeditions and Tauruses and they used to be boxier and now it seems like the lines are dancing a little bit.
Moray Callum: Well, I think you’re right. I think we’ve tried to put a little bit more, I would say, emotion into our surface language and I think people respond to that emotion as well. I think, you know, we’ve gone through periods where the cars have been a little bit too static and we want to advertise this movement because I think it does give the impression of a little bit more muscularity of the car and a little bit more emotion to the car.
Damola Idowu: And when you say that, looking at the sales of the Escape, looking at the sales of the Explorer, looking at the sales of the Fusion, you know, you could see that language.
Moray Callum: And we’re very happy with those and I think I’m especially happy because people are actually highlighting the design as one of the reasons to buy the core/car products, so that’s a double bonus for me.
Damola Idowu: …And that’s even translating into your compact offerings like the Fiesta. So talk about that, like how do you interpret that design in a smaller [vehicle]?
Moray Callum: Well I think the Fiesta – the Fiesta was designed in our European studio and I think really, that was the studio that really initiated what we call connecting design and they really wanted to give even a small car a lot of emotional appeal and a lot of sculpture to the body style, as well…again, so people would realize this passion and the design of the car, too. So it’s very important to get that emotional response from people even on a smaller car.
Damola Idowu: …Talk about…coming soon, you’ll be debuting the Fusion in Europe so talk about how that process would go, and what would be the evolution for what’s here?
Moray Callum: The Fusion will be the Mondeo in Europe so we’re keeping the Mondeo name, but it will be the same Fusion as is currently sold in the US. So the actual difference will be, there will be no difference at all so that’s part of our strategy, to have more global products that are recognized around the world.
Damola Idowu: …Would the fit and finish or interior materials be much different?
Moray Callum: …The finish should be exactly the same although they are built in different plants but a slight difference in paint colors and materials…really just to suit the local market. But we did set out to do a global car and we tried to keep the commonality very strong.
Damola Idowu: …Now you guys acquired Livio and that’s going to be interpreted in your infotainment and in the interiors as far as the communication. So talk about that, because last generation Mustang was one of the first where you started integrating more of the touchscreen and navigation.
Moray Callum: As you can see we’ve done that again…
Damola Idowu: Exactly. so talk about how does that affect the process in your design?
Moray Callum: I mean there’s a lot of technology being delivered in all cars these days and I think it’s our job to make that technology user-friendly and make it available for the customer to understand and make it much more intuitive and I think that’s one of the issues…one of the things that customers have asked for is they want technology, but they don’t want to be bombarded by it. So it’s our job to really make it user-friendly and make it intuitive and at the same time not go overkill as well. So getting that balance right is very important. Also the fact, you know, we want people to concentrate with their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, so that’s one of the aspects we look at in terms of how you integrate the technology and how you do it the right way – in the way the customer wants to use it.
Damola Idowu: Now just two more – two final questions. One question I had is, the F-150 using mostly aluminum. How did that change in how you’re able to bend it and how you’re able to design it because that’s a very temperamental metal to design with?
Moray Callum: Well, we’ve actually had some experience with aluminum before and there are some, I think, maybe 10 – 15 years ago if we used it there were more differences between aluminum and steel, but now we managed to get them much closer together in terms of how tight ??? we can get and then and how we can adjust margins. When we were involved with Jaguar, for example, we learned a lot with the aluminum bodies there, so there was a lot of learning from that, that we used to develop and perfect it. So from a design perspective, it’s actually – there’s not been that many limitations because of aluminum.
Damola Idowu: And going forward in the future what could we anticipate in how you’re leading Ford?
Moray Callum: I think…going forward hopefully, you’ll just keep seeing more and better cars for less and then the challenge is really…I think we’ve got a very good impetus going in the moment. I think we’ve got a great lineup of cars…but the competition’s not standing still either…We need to compete and really look at the design language and use that has a communication tool and a reason to buy the car. So we’re working hard to evolve our design language for the future.
Damola Idowu: Thank you so very much.
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