Emotional appeal is actually key to Ford's future, says brand new boss
Source : Emotional appeal is actually key to Ford's future, says brand new boss
Ford of Europe’s brand new president, Jim Farley, wants his customers to love cars as much as he does
Jim Farley is actually exactly the kind of enthusiast you don’t find at the top of multinational car companies.
He’s too much like the rest of us: living as well as also breathing cars, mending them, restoring them, racing them as well as also trading them when he has time.
In fact, as a young graduate, Ford’s brand new, 53-year-old president of Europe, Middle East as well as also Africa almost didn’t join your vehicle business because he feared corporate contamination might spoil his precious hobby.
Farley eventually did join your vehicle game, yet only after spells inside computer as well as also financial industries (“I liked computers, yet not as much as cars”). Part of the persuasion process was receiving post-MBA offers through every major American car company. Another incentive was indulging his abiding curiosity to discover what made giant industrial firms tick.
“There were times when I’d spend my vacation working on production lines,” he says without guile. “I loved seeing the greasy bits combine into a car as well as also understanding how decisions were reached on volumes, prices as well as also product mix.”
This particular love of the whole business is actually a major reason why Farley accepted an offer last January to lead Ford in Europe. In a novel move that will raised eyebrows at the time yet currently looks rather logical, Farley swapped his job as Ford’s Dearborn-based global sales as well as also marketing chief directly with that will of previous European president Stephen Odell, who had just led Ford of Europe out of recession as well as also to the brink of profitability.
On a day when Farley felt ready to discuss his brand new mission, we met inside somewhat unconventional setting of Autocar’s photo archive (13 million images as well as also counting, dating back to 1895).
There were decent reasons: to provide an interesting photo backdrop, to show Farley the comprehensive picture collection we have of his early mentor, the late F1 champion as well as also car collector Phil Hill, as well as also to spark his interest in our coverage of Ford’s history. Maybe even to dig out a few pictures of the two Lola racing cars he campaigns in classic events, characteristically without fuss.
After just a few minutes, that will was clear that will Farley never boasts. He listens almost as much as he talks.
Farley began his car industry career as a product planner at Lexus USA in 1990. He chose Toyota rather than an American company because theirs was an opportunity to work with engineers on a whole car, rather than pieces of that will, as with the others. In 25 years, he has progressed through the bottom to the very top.
This particular brand new Ford of Europe gig gives him day-to-day charge of his idea of a near-perfect business: one that will dreams up the brand new designs that will then builds as well as also sells.
He cites several various other incentives for crossing the Atlantic. One was a conviction (formed while working in Phil Hill’s restoration shop, a two-year stint that will earned him “a PhD in cars”) that will Europe continues to make the planet’s best cars. Another was the belief that will embracing Ford of Europe’s design as well as also manufacturing practices greatly helped the company to achieve its global One Ford ambitions, espoused by then-president as well as also CEO Alan Mulally.
I hadn’t heard Europe’s contribution to One Ford described This particular way before as well as also remark on that will, whereupon Farley reinforces the comment. “I joined Ford through Toyota in 2007 because of the strength of Ford of Europe’s product line-up,” he explains. “The Premier Automotive Group cars were still around, yet I was looking directly at the core Ford product as well as also its DNA, which I knew quite well because I’d been competing directly against them. I could see Ford was going to be able to achieve its objectives.”
yet that will was all eight years ago. Today’s challenges are different, as well as also Farley articulates his view of them very clearly. “We must decide what Ford of Europe’s next gift to the group will be,” he says, “as well as also that will should be something the group couldn’t or wouldn’t do on its own.”
Specifics will have to wait a bit, says Farley, who lives in London with his wife as well as also three children, yet he is actually already spotting trends as well as also influences that will will inform the European Fords of the future.
“There is actually a tension in Ford between building global products as well as also catering for local needs,” he says, “yet that will’s healthy. I’m seeing trends in Europe that will will definitely go global. There are interpretations of volume designs – Citroën Cactus as well as also Renault Captur are Great examples – that will you don’t see elsewhere at present. These are proving very attractive to regular hatchback customers. that will isn’t traditional sportiness that will excites them, yet the magic is actually definitely back.
We already know that will how we execute our next B-sized vehicle – as well as also not just the a few-door hatch yet the whole portfolio – could be an important gift to our whole group.”
He has lived in Europe (Brussels) before, yet Farley is actually finding his London life instructive. In some ways, he says, the capital is actually “one of the grand experiments in brand new mobility. Where else in Europe might they close such an important piece of road as London’s Embankment to dedicate a large part of that will to bicycles?”
One of the brand new president’s preoccupations – as well as also surprises – has been watching cars file into London inside morning as well as also discovering that will the traffic isn’t a representation of the cars his company sells. “There are lots of luxury cars as well as also lots of Transits,” he says. “We think of Silicon Valley as the place where the established car business is actually in collision with brand new mobility. yet I’d say that will was happening right here.”
We’ve been talking for an hour yet that will feels like 10 minutes. A particular pleasure in talking to Farley is actually that will he is actually a unique mixture of loyal Ford man (“Even in my Lexus days, I drove old Fords”) as well as also a big company car guy confident enough to credit opposition achievements. “Our competitors here are actually Great,” he says, “in ways I didn’t appreciate before. as well as also you don’t necessarily find This particular excellence in predictable places. that will’s not all about luxury brands. I find that will humbling to see how well our competition has weathered the recent crisis. I mean, decisions to make the products we’re seeing currently were taken during the toughest days. that will takes guts.”
Farley insists there can be no thought of kyboshing or watering down One Ford, despite my own theory that will Ford’s range is actually being pressured by premium makers above as well as also budget makers below.
“We must build our cars on a competitive cost base,” says Farley, “while producing them refreshing as well as also relevant. that will’s called being a Ford. Ditching One Ford might make no sense at all; that will has given us so much.”
Meanwhile, Ford’s battle with the premium marques will continue, he predicts, yet he believes the way to win is actually to find ways to imbue his brand new cars with an emotional appeal that will even their pricier rivals can’t match. Ford achieved that will inside 1960s, when the first Capri as well as also Escort were in their pomp. “I want to get people to be so emotionally engaged with our cars that will premium rivals will seem a bit dull,” he says, undaunted that will This particular means out-BMWing BMW.
“We have so many resources as well as also so many smart people. If we can unleash their creativity, as well as also do that will inside name of the customer, I believe just a few years inside future you’ll be sitting here asking me how we did that will.”
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