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Old 03-23-2003, 22:16   #1 (permalink)
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Ford taps Mazda, Volvo to create small cars; variants of shared platfoms

March 24, 2003)
AutoWeek
By BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe

Ford Motor Co. plans to use technology and expertise from Ford, Mazda and Volvo to create a generation of small cars that will spawn sales of about 1.6 million units per year.
The program, called C Technologies, calls for seven body variants that will be assembled in 13 countries.

Sharing parts and expertise from Ford Motor's corporate family is an important strategy to cut costs and erase red ink. The company posted combined net losses of $6.43 billion in 2001 and 2002. The program's core nameplates, the next-generation Mazda3, which replaces the Protege, Ford Focus and Volvo S40 and V50, will share 60 percent of their components.

But the individual cars will remain distinctive and true to the values of their brands, Ford planners hope. In the process, the three brands will get big savings on purchasing and product development costs. For example, a Mazda3 will get driving dynamics knowledge from Ford engineers and safety advances from Volvo engineers, while keeping Mazda's reputation for zippy gasoline engines and build quality. But if the plan works, customers won't confuse a Mazda3 with a Volvo S40 or a Ford Focus.

The building block of the strategy is Ford's widely praised Focus. Ford showed the first result of the partnership at the Geneva auto show this month, the Focus C-Max compact minivan. Volvo will show the S40 sedan at the Frankfurt auto show in September, where the Mazda3 also could appear. Those products should appear next year, followed by the new Focus. About 1.6 million cars will come out of the program in its peak year around 2006, according to Global Insight Automotive.

Nigel Griffiths, Global Insight analyst, says the program will be one of the largest in industry history. For comparison, last year Ford Motor sold in the United States 1,036,810 trucks off the full-sized pickup platform - Ford F series, Expedition and Excursion, and the Lincoln Navigator.

Sharing 60 percent of components need not be a problem, Griffiths says.

"It's the 40 percent that really does the work for you. As long as those differentiators are high and have high recognition content with customers, you can easily get away with 60 percent (common components)."

The different parts should accentuate differences between the brands, he says. "That could be interior quality, engine sound or the noise the door makes when you click it shut," he says. "Those sensual factors eventually become emotive."

(Photo) The Mazda MX Sportif concept (top) carries many design cues of the Mazda3, which will replace the Mazda Protege. The Ford Focus C-Max compact minivan (bottom) won't be sold in America, but the fascia will be repeated in the next-generation Focus.
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Old 03-25-2003, 07:01   #2 (permalink)
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C Technologies: Common parts mean compromise for Ford, Volvo, Mazda

By BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe

When Ford Motor Co. and Volvo engineers were designing common parts and systems for their next-generation small cars in Cologne, Germany, they found that they had different ways to handle car bodies in the paint and body shops.

"Body reference points were one of the most important things," says Magnus Jonsson, Volvo senior vice president of project management. "We have one that starts at the front of the car, and Ford has a system that starts in the middle of the car."

The systems had to be harmonized. Volvo compromised by building the flexibility to handle both systems into its body and paint shops in Ghent, Belgium.

Ford, Mazda and Volvo had to work out hundreds of similar compromises in their C Technologies program. C Technologies gathered engineers from the three brands in Cologne to develop one of the largest platform programs in history - the next- generation Ford Focus, Volvo S40 and V50, and Mazda3, which replaces the Protege, will share 60 percent of their components and systems.

"The program is very much focused on the underpinnings of the vehicles," says Derrick Kuzak, Ford of Europe vice president of product development. "The exterior sheet metal was in the hands of the brands," as was everything else customers see and touch, he says.

Kuzak is the director of C Technologies. He oversaw a team of about 90 engineers from all three brands.

"The program was new from a Ford standpoint," Jonsson says. "Historically (Ford) more clearly had the lead in programs and developed a common base. Then whoever wants to use the platform can do so on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. With this program, all three companies sat down and agreed on shared requirements in a structure that was separate from any car programs."

The companies had to compromise in every area, from manufacturing and engineering to computer systems and purchasing policies. The team of engineers - 30 each from Ford, Mazda and Volvo - met in Cologne for two years to iron out these issues and develop a set of common components and methods each company could use.

Each company managed purchasing and chose suppliers in their key areas, such as safety for Volvo. But the group reviewed all purchasing decisions. The program had 30 to 40 Tier 1 suppliers, not including brand-specific features.

"All of us have different brand DNAs and we are very cautious about not getting them diluted," Jonsson says. "I think we have learned a lot about how to make cars that are more enjoyable to drive."

Communications problems often loomed large, partially because many engineers weren't speaking their native languages.

"A lot of the issues related to how we use the same words but often we don't mean the same thing," Jonsson says. "That creates confusion."

Jonsson has experience working with teams over more than one brand. "My previous job, I was working for Saab, and we had a relationship with Opel at Russelsheim, Germany, and that was a much more difficult experience than what this has been," he says.

"The Ford team is a more international team" than the one at Opel, he says.

Volvo has worked with Mitsubishi on the S40/V40 and Mitsubishi Carisma at Nedcar in Born, Netherlands. Some of those engineers were on the C Technologies team.
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