While Lincoln hasn’t offered anything of interest to driving enthusiasts since the late and dearly missed Lincoln LS (whose advanced chassis was originally slated to be used for a truly world-class Mustang as early as 2001), the design process will always be of interest to car enthusiasts.
Two press releases from Lincoln highlight the creation of a dedicated design studio, and the design process itself. Dedicated so that Lincoln designers can create a design language specific to and appropriate for Lincoln, rather than the past practice of simply rebadging a Ford and loading it with options. That practice clearly didn’t work for buyers. The company also wasn’t ready to shoulder the costs associated with it, and the existing Lincoln sales people didn’t know how to sell anything that wasn’t a “fancy Ford”. The Lincoln LS was indeed the first attempt at creating a unique Lincoln, not shared with Ford, and failed because of both the financials and the failure of the sales organization. Both are being addressed now, and the new Lincoln Design Center is an important step in the process.
The press photo below shows clay and fiberglass buck of the new MKZ, along a pre-production prototype. Look closely and you’ll see an unannounced SUV under wrap (Escape-sized?), along with what appears to be a small C-sized fiberglass buck. Interesting!
Two Lincoln Press Releases follow:
Lincoln Design Center Opening Marks New Milestone in Brand’s Reinvention
- Lincoln celebrates Design Center opening today; new studio houses approximately 150 designers, craftspeople and engineers dedicated solely to Lincoln production and concept vehicles
- All disciplines – creative and technical – work collaboratively in one space; first new dedicated Design Center for Lincoln since the 1970s
- All-new Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan, arriving later this year, first vehicle emerging from the new studio
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 18, 2012 – Lincoln celebrates another element of its reinvention journey today with the formal opening of the new Lincoln Design Studio in Dearborn, Mich., the brand’s first new fully dedicated design center in four decades.
This major facility, located on the campus of Ford Motor Company’s Product Development Center, is home to a skilled, co-located global team of designers, sculptors, math sculptors and modelers representing a dozen nationalities – and with experience in just as many design centers around the world.
This team is part of a dedicated Lincoln Product Development organization, creating four all-new Lincoln vehicles by 2015 to ensure the reinvented brand has a presence in the highest growth segments of the premium market.
“We have spent considerable time to develop strong integrated design, engineering and product programs into a common Product Development vision for Lincoln,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, speaking at the opening program. “Lincoln’s advantage is we can build on the company’s tremendous global product development resources and ensure we continually innovate to develop the best technology and apply it to support the unique Lincoln difference.”
Nair pointed out two significant examples of this approach, highlighting the all-new Lincoln MKZ’s push-button shift and panoramic glass roof.
Creating a facility dedicated to Lincoln is an essential step in the reinvention of the brand.
“During the great recession, the U.S. luxury market had changed. Now, there is opportunity for a fresh, new alternative in the premium market,” said Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service. “Lincoln’s renaissance is built on our new product lineup and is a personalized experience with designs that deliver on our promise of a personalized motor car: beautiful, elegant, and most of all, surprising.”
The new design studio is located in the nerve center of Lincoln vehicle development, allowing engineers and designers to be co-located. Approximately 150 design team members who work exclusively for Lincoln are also in the center.
Max Wolff, Lincoln’s Director of Design, is responsible not only for the design of all Lincoln vehicles but also the environment in which they will be created.
The new home is an environment where designers and engineers truly collaborate. The loft-like studio replaces walls with glass. Cubicles are banished in favor of open workspaces where designers sit across from one another. The entire space is configured to allow Product Development team members to drop in, have ad-hoc discussions and make impromptu innovative brainstorm sessions the order of the day and not the exception.
“We also made it a priority to fit interior and exterior design teams into one space because often they are two separate work streams and therefore, two different sensibilities,” Wolff said. “Now everyone collaborates on one harmonious vehicle.”
The first vehicle to emerge from the new studio, the 2013 MKZ, goes on sale late this year.
From Idea to Sketch to Clay to Metal: How a Vehicle Comes to Life in the Lincoln Studio
Before a customer ever knows about a new Lincoln, a passionate team of engineers ensures that a new model meets the design intent and stacks up favorably against benchmarked competitors.
To deliver the optimum blend of sporty performance and refined ride – an attribute the new Lincoln customer demands – the new MKZ uses Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) suspension. There are more than 1,200 individual settings that go into tuning the Lincoln CCD system. More than 4,000 man hours went into perfecting CCD to deliver the Lincoln ride DNA.