Lincoln has appointed David Woodhouse as its new design director, replacing Max Wolff. Wolff, however, remains at Ford Motor Co.’s luxury unit in charge of exterior design of the brand’s models, according to spokesman Stephane Cesareo. According to Woodhouse’s LinkedIn profile, his appointment seemed to have taken place in December.
Ford apparently didn’t disclose the reshuffle, but heralded Wolff’s hiring from Cadillac in December 2010. In a statement at the time, Ford attributed Wolff for bringing a “fresh perspective” that will challenge the carmaker internally and will take Lincoln to “new levels of prestige.”
According to Cesario, the reshuffle was done since more design resources were required to manage the rapid redesign of Lincoln’s product line, which involves introduction of four new models in four years. He said that Ford didn’t disclose the reshuffle since it no longer issues a press release for job promotions below the vice president level.
Another Lincoln spokesman, Sam Locricchio, said that just as the brand expanded its global marketing team, the design team “needs that too.” He said that to get Lincoln where it needs to be, there is need to dedicate more bodies and more resources solely to the luxury brand.
Lincoln’ revival is part of a target by Ford chief executive Alan Mulally to capture a larger chunk of the luxury car market. Lincoln’s annual sales reached its peak in 1990 to 231,660, but had dropped 65 percent since.
John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst and former product planner at Ford, remarked that the drop is a sign that what the carmaker is doing is not working.
He remarked that if Lincoln is trying to compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, “they’re not in the same galaxy,” noting that Ford’s luxury brand doesn’t have a memorable and distinctive design signature yet. Woodhouse was chief designer of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, and oversaw design of Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Volvo.