The time I spent at the Forward with Ford conference last week was both fun and highly informative.
Some of the insights I gained there included:
- Ford designs for people all over the world – all from their North American design studios. That includes everything from their electric Focus, their Fusion hybrid and their energy-efficient Fiesta to the upcoming 50th anniversary Mustang, due out in 2014.
Boundaries are meant to be broken – as in design and the human-machine interface. Their cars are meant to reflect the trends and are greatly influenced by millennials.
- Ford is committed to their cars being accessible to consumers – affordable, right sized, and with a lot more tech included.
- Ford sees their smaller sized cars as projecting upscale values. They’re not “luxury dependent”, said panelist and Ford senior designer Anthony Prozzi.
There’s one aspect that has Ford stand above other automakers. There is an incredibly large amount of plastic that goes into every vehicle out there. Ford is leading the way with their commitment to replace that with renewable materials.
“Eco friendly isn’t a trade-off”, said panelist / designer Travis Lee.
There was a fascinating exhibit at the conference of all the materials Ford is working with. These include wheat straw, corn, soy and kenaf, a 4,000 year old, highly versatile crop I wasn’t familiar with but that seems likely to find a solid home in Ford vehicles in the coming years.
Over the next few days, you’ll find out what Ford’s doing about design, their newest, really cool tech, new safety features you’ll be seeing over the next several years, a fascinating rarely given tour of Ford’s laboratories (not open to the public) and, oh yes, my day at the test track. Be sure to come back. You’ll be glad you did!