Lincoln Triples Investment In Interior Design
People spend more time riding in their cars than they do staring at them in their garages. Because of that simple truth, Lincoln, along with Ford and Mercury, is tripling its investment in interior design.
“People are commuting more miles today than at any time in our nation's history,” says J Mays, vice president Ford Motor Company Design. “We want to make sure that the time people spend inside our products is quality time. That means an emphasis on interior craftsmanship that is unprecedented in domestic brands.”
As a result of this new emphasis, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products are earning a reputation for unparalleled attention to detail in their interiors. The 2002 Ford Thunderbird was among the first products to receive the benefits of the new design direction winning awards for its interior design.
“This isn’t something you just switch on in a product freshening. Not if you’re doing it right,” says Mays. “What you're starting to see today is the result of four years of dedication to interior design leadership.”
Ford Design’s Global Craftsmanship team instituted an industry-wide examination of best practices in product craftsmanship in 1998, and began offering their findings to product development teams. In 2000, the team expanded its scope and, at the insistence of Mays and Chris Theodore, vice president of Product Development, all Ford Lincoln and Mercury new product program teams were required to certify their plans with a Craftsmanship Review.
Teams are given scores for craftsmanship levels. They set targets based on competitive product scores and are required to hold themselves and their supplier partners to stringent standards to ensure quality levels are met.
Lincoln is the leading beneficiary of Mays’ strategy. Because the entire lineup is all new or completely freshened for the 2002 and 2003 model years, Lincoln has substantially upgraded its interiors across the board. The Lincoln Town Car and LS received extensive upgrades in powertrain, chassis and interior craftsmanship for 2003.
The 2003 Lincoln Navigator is the breakthrough interior design that began the revolution in Lincoln interiors. Navigator’s design features elegant simplicity and use of rich materials executed with precision not seen in domestic luxury vehicles prior to its introduction. Following on the heels of the Navigator is the all-new 2003 Lincoln Aviator. Aviator matches its big brother in world-class interior craftsmanship. The interiors of both Lincoln SUVs have been compared favorably with those of the world’s leading luxury import sedans.
“The quality gap in the industry is closing,” says Mays. “Exterior design is a subjective matter of taste. But we think our greatest advantage and the true differentiator for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury is interior design and craftsmanship.”