More iconic Ford vehicles may become inspiration for the rest of Ford’s product range. Earlier this week, Ford spoke of trying to transfer the passion for and emotional design of the 54-year-old Mustang to other vehicles in the automaker’s lineup. Now the company wants to use its deep knowledge of F-150, Transit, and Mustang customers as a template for creating vehicles that “better meet emerging customer needs.” To do that, Ford’s created the Enterprise Product Line Management (EPLM) group charged to “create a winning portfolio of vehicles and bring them to market faster and more efficiently.”
Consider this another effort at the kind of internal interdisciplinary planning that every company says it strives for but rarely pulls off successfully. First, the carmaker’s broken its developing and growing model range into 10 product lines: family utilities, urban utilities, rugged utilities, performance vehicles, luxury vehicles, compact trucks, F-Series, commercial vehicles, electric vehicles, and emerging market vehicles. The “nimble, customer-focused” teams managing those 10 product lines will do so from conception through to customer engagement “as end-to-end businesses,” and include members from engineering, product planning, manufacturing, marketing, and finance so as “to create breakthrough products and customer experiences.”
As the Detroit automaker sheds cars, moves to fewer and modular platforms, resurrects icons, expands nameplates from 20 to 23, and pieces together one of the industry’s youngest lineups, it views EPLM as the means to “create a winning portfolio of vehicles and bring them to market faster and more efficiently.” And of course, just as much as this is about what’s being put out, it’s about what’s being brought in; i.e., an “unyielding commitment to strong returns” and “profitable growth,” in the words of Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets. Ford’s North American and global profit marginstook substantial drops in the second quarter this year compared to Q2 last year, to 7.4 percent and 2.7 percent respectively. Company leaders had sought a 10 percent profit margin in North America, and 8 percent globally, by 2020.
According to Automotive News, “Ford CEO Jim Hackett and other senior executives say the automaker wants to offer products in segments where it knows it can win. …” Longtime Ford exec Jim Baumbick (pictured), who oversaw the creation of the flexible modular architecture plans, becomes a company officer as VP of the EPLM and will report to Farley. Baumbick retains his current role within the global product planning and strategy department.
We’re not aware of an umbrella term for the various overhauls happening at Ford right now. However, this latest comes right on time as the third sweeping reorganization in a 12-year cycle. In 1995, Scotsman and former Ford CEO Alex Trotman instituted his Ford 2000 plan to harmonize global operations, saving the company scads of money even with bumpy implementation and uneven results and earning a knighthood for it. In 2007, Alan Mulally rolled out One Ford, and we know how that went. Here we go again, so start your timers. And your profit-watching machines.