Ford Authority

Future Ford Vehicles Will Be Developed By Small, Dedicated Teams

In recent years, Ford has changed the way it develops new vehicles considerably, speeding up that process and shifting to smaller teams with less oversight. That will apparently continue to be the way future Ford vehicles are developed as well, according to Ford’s newly christened chief industrial platform officer, Hau Thai-Tang.

“Yeah. So, you heard Jim mention that when we reflect on when Ford’s at our best, it’s really these small dedicated, co-located teams that are mission-based, whether that’s the Ford GT, the Maverick, Team Edison, and that’s what we want to replicate,” Thai-Tang said while speaking at Ford’s recent reorganization press conference. “And that’s going to benefit both Ford Model e as well as Ford Blue.”

This process is nothing new, as Thai-Tang pointed out, and in fact, began back with the Ford GT program. Development of the first-gen GT was completed by a small team under a confidential program name at a satellite studio, which helped keep the project under wraps until Ford revealed its GT concept at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. Both the 2021 Ford Bronco and Ford Bronco Sport were developed using unconventional methods as well, which included drawing people in little vignettes – or scenes showing how people would use their Bronco in real life – in place of surface models, 3D millings, or clay models.

Then there’s the 2022 Ford Maverick, which was also developed in secret by a small team of people tasked with lofty goals including the pickup’s sub-$20k starting price and 40+ mile-per-gallon fuel economy rating. Ford managed to shave a full 20 months off the Maverick’s development time – which took around three years – by ditching formality, as well as utilizing the existing Ford C2 platform, which has underpinned a variety of Blue Oval models, including the Ford Escape, Ford Kuga, Lincoln Corsair, Ford Bronco Sport.

We’ll have more on Ford’s future development process soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for non-stop Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. whypac

    Isn’t small, dedicated teams common sense?

    Anything else is too many cooks in the kitchen and you will never get anything accomplished, except for having meetings, about meetings.

    1. Ryan

      No not necessarily. Small dedicated teams is great to be able to move fast and innovate. But the downside is you don’t have commonality across vehicles, the teams are more siloed. Engineers on different teams are duplicating work, economy of scale goes down a little bit, lessons learned aren’t transferred across the company. It’s a tradeoff.

  2. Mike

    You have small teams, with lower resources, and lower priorities, with less backing, and you end up with insufficient production resources, because no one realized demand, resulting in lost and disappointed customers.

    1. Rinzler

      I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t know if you know what you’re talking about…

      Are you asking for bigger teams making things more complex with more overhead like Ford has now?

      Ford finally has compelling, in-demand products now, and it’s not because they are doing things like they’ve always done….

      The changes at Ford have their stock, and thusly the owners, higher and more excited than ever.

  3. Stanking

    Apollo 13 all over again (square CO2 filter to round receptacle – won’t fit). Every design and department must be included in the decision making process or else you’ll have duplicate or more different parts for different vehicles when one part could fit all vehicles. Well duh. Hey here’s a good idea (just joking) : Small group decision – “Why don’t we use metric measurements for some parts and sae measurements for other parts together in the same vehicle? That way we can frustrate everyone! ”
    Please let’s use the KISS method.
    That’s all

  4. Ralph Natola

    You guys are too intellectual to understand small team vehicle design. If you read carefully, you would have realized that the maverick for example has shared the best mechanical and design features of five other models. The team is not locked away from the overall ford mission or interdepartmental suggestions based on positive trends. Try relaxing and enjoy the variety and quality of these new fordodels.

    1. Al

      There is ALWAYS some people that know little trying to impress people with what they think they know. Talk is cheap, Ford is putting their money where their mouth is. If the nay-Sayers know so much, then I would say to them start your own business and build a better vehicle to prove what you know!

  5. Jeffrey D. Sproul

    Small design teams doesn’t mean that they design every part of the vehicle separately. They still have parameters such as sharing a platform which in the case of the Maverick and Bronco Sport is the Escape platform. Additionally components are shared such as engines, transmissions, interior pieces, knobs and switches, and a few other things otherwise the cost to develop and manufacture would be prohibitive. The vehicle is designed to incorporate all those items. The manufacturers delays are less about design and more about shortages of critical components such as chips. Also not having the parts delivered in time for the assembly of vehicles will cause a plant shutdown. A big part of the design is to be able to use existing manufacturing plants with as little change to the plant as possible and to share the manufacturing with an existing product.


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