The Making of a Global Vehicle

This first installment of a special two-part story from MyFord magazine goes behind the scenes to see how the 2012 Ford Focus was designed.

As the first in a wave of truly global vehicles to come out of the brand-defining One Ford philosophy of Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, the next-generation Focus contains universal characteristics – from the curve of the roof down to the tension in the accelerator – known as the Ford Global DNA. This is a car designed to appeal to drivers on all continents.

“An iPod is an iPod whether it’s in Europe or the U.S.,” says KC Dallia, Focus North America consumer marketing manager. “The new Focus will be instantly recognizable to everyone around the globe.”

Rather than having teams in North America, Europe and Asia develop continent-specific designs as in the past, three years ago Ford congregated all its Focus designers at the vehicle center in Merkenich, Germany. Their task was to create a modern-looking, technology-packed vehicle that is comfortable to sit in, convenient and, naturally, fun to drive. The 2012 Focus is all that and more.

Its striking body represents “kinetic design,” which captures the look of energy in motion.

“The proportions of this car really make it stand out,” says Stefan Lamm, director, Exterior Design, Ford of Europe, who headed the body design team. “It’s quite low without sacrificing the passenger compartment, and that reinforces the fun-to-drive aspect.”

The stakes for this project were considerable: The 2012 Focus will account for approximately 2 million vehicles in the next two years. “We expect this to be the biggest-selling nameplate in the world,” says Martin Smith, executive design director, Ford of Europe. “There was no pressure, of course,” he adds with a smile.

The car sprang to life nearly three years ago, when designers began making sketches on paper. The sketches were pinned up on the wall, and the design team identified the positive aspects of each one. It was an exercise to create the right proportions for the vehicle.

“We wanted it to be lower, leaner, wider, meaner,” says Smith.

The two-dimensional drawings were refined in Photoshop and then translated into a 3-D rendering to give designers a look at all angles. Lamm’s team then defined the kinetic design elements, such as bold wheel lips, strong shoulders and dynamic side creases

that link the front and rear wheel wells, accentuating the sense of motion.

Based on the 3-D data, full-size models were milled in clay for evaluation. The models were then refined by hand by expert sculptors and finally fitted with Plexiglas® windows and lights to look realistic. Three variations, from aggressively sporty to practical, were shown to groups of compact-car buyers in China, Europe and North America.

While all this sketching and sculpting of the surface was happening, the engineering team was planning the sheetmetal tooling. A digital mock-up was created through computer-aided design (CAD) data, and it provided a visual representation of the so-called hard points of the vehicle, such as where the engine would be mounted and how much headroom there would be.

Using the evolved CAD data, a virtual car was rendered in plain white so the team could do a fine analysis of the sheetmetal surfaces, transitions, lines and body details. This “doughboy” rendering is also used to create computer graphic interface (CGI) materials, from realistic images to full-motion videos.

The interior design team worked very closely with the exterior team and brought kinetic design to the cabin as well.

“Both the instrument panel – which looks like the wings of an airplane – and the center console are driver-oriented,” says Ernst Reim, chief designer, Interior, Ford of Europe, who headed up the project. “Together they create a ‘flow’ around the driver that makes him feel like he’s in the cockpit of a jet plane.”

The cabin of the 2012 Focus was designed similarly to the exterior, with sketches, computer drawings, clay models and more. It is also an example of flowing, kinetic design.

This story first appeared in MyFord magazine. Next month, part II in this look behind the scenes at the creation of the 2012 Ford Focus will be published in MyFord as well as here on theFordStory.com.

You can find other articles about the Ford Focus on theFordStory.com by clicking here.
Lincoln 02/20/2011
I agree with Doug. The LS was the direction Lincoln should have continued to go. It's a shame Ford seems to be killing off all of RWD platforms when there are several successful RWD cars.
Tyril Sparks 12/20/2010
I think a new Thunderbird is long overdue ecspecially a turbo-coupe or supercoupe
Doug Beck 12/17/2010
Falcon Ute, Ranchero anybody?
John Skidmore 12/17/2010
HOW ABOUT A BRAND NEW VEHICLE FOR THE MICHIGAN MAGAZINE MUSEUM.
Doug Beck 12/17/2010
Dear, Ford




Build cars for enthusiasts the rest will come. The mustang is a perfect example, the GT, GT500 and other performance models are what draw people to the brand but most consumers just are not interested in that aspect of the cars. So they buy a red V6 automatic convertible. I am waiting for you Ford ti finish what you started with the Lincoln LS. It should have been what the CTSV is or an M series fighter. Remember focus groups do not buy cars people do.
John Fusco 12/17/2010
Remember the Pinto?
Peter Leversedge 12/17/2010
Long live the RWD Falcon
Ricardo Diaz 12/17/2010
Eco-boost(especially a v-6) is not the way to go in the global economy...Mercede's Benz is using V8's, BMW is using v-8's, lexus is even using v-8's, America needs to take a stand and utilize this "world class" 5.0l v-8 in a rwd sedan that can compete in the Full size sedan market.
Peter Leversedge 12/17/2010
I think Ford should make the RWD Falcon a Global Vehicle
Axxel Knutson 12/17/2010
Any car made of clay will not do well in the rain.
Ricardo Diaz 12/17/2010
Pontiac had it right with the G8 and the GTO but Government Motors doesn't have the balls, funds, or legislation to produce another vehicle of that caliber, this is where Ford can shine. The Falcon would be the right choice, John is right about keeping the crown vic, though if not they should do something, even HYUNDAI has a v-8 RWD "luxury" sedan.
John Sherry 12/17/2010
Ford, thank you for the reply. I mean I'm sure Chevy thought they were doing the right thing when they dropped the Caprice in favour of the Lumina. I guess time will tell. Don't get me wrong, I love Ford but pulling the Crown Victoria which has sold 498,710 cars since just 2002 is not the right choice. Ford I think you are making a terrible mistake. Nothing beats the classic American sedan.
Ford Motor Company 12/17/2010
@John: thanks for your input. We have a well thought out plan that is right for the times and that supports our overall strategy as a company. We worked hand in hand with our Police Advisory Board of law enforcement professionals, which provided input on key vehicle attributes such as safety, performance, durability, driver comfort and functionality.

In addition, we've designed the taxi version of the Transit Connect to serve the needs of passengers in major cities across the country, which includes an exit height that's level with the curb, rather than requiring customers to haul themselves out of the low-flung Crown Victoria cabs. And for the Town Car, we've already announced to our fleet partners how the MKT will step up to the job there, and they're thrilled.

And regarding 8-cylinder engines, we're using EcoBoost, a naturally aspirated dual turbo-charged engine that gives you the power of an 8-cylinder with the fuel efficiency of a 6-cylinder. The 8-cylinder only remains in the Mustang and our trucks. The feedback we've had about the performance and the capability of these engines has been universally positive from those who have tried them.

-Scott
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Curt Pedeare 12/17/2010
FORD you need to get after chevs new commerical's with that little baby girl wtf its funny as hell but still we need a good come back!
Tim Wood 12/17/2010
I've already got their other "world car", the Mondeo aka Contour (SVT). Just had its 3RD ECU put in. :(
Ricardo Diaz 12/17/2010
@scott your right, but they should bring it to america and make THAT their "global" flagship sedan, the Taurus SHO is a pretty bad ride but front wheel drive should be a thing of the past for High dollar performance sedans
John Sherry 12/17/2010
No police service wants an unproven police car (Taurus) with a 6 cylinder with turbo which is very expensive to replace when it has to be. The Taurus is cramped, smaller than the Charger and to me no better than the Impala which is already pretty useless for police/taxi service.
Rob Lohr 12/17/2010
Is this the Brazil plant?
John Sherry 12/17/2010
Scott, not in America. Ford should just refresh the Crown Victoria on the panther platform and drop a 5.0 into it. It is better than loosing all fleet (police and taxi) service to Dodge. The Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 will be taking over the Crown Victoria's and Town Car's services because they are both actually rear wheel drive, decent size, and have 8 cylinder engines. Ford is being awfully stupid in replacing the Crown Vic with a Taurus and replacing the Town Car with some extended stupid cross over. FORD YOU ARE MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE CHEVY DID!!! WAKE UP!! KEEP THE CROWN VICTORIA AND TOWN CAR!
Scott Dunne 12/17/2010
ricardo ford already has that .. it's called a falcon
Ricardo Diaz 12/17/2010
What ford needs is a REAR wheel drive sedan with the new 5.0 motor shoved in that bad boy to replace the crown victoria.
Danjel Medovič 12/17/2010
Truly an amazing read! Focus is such a great car.
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