A long time ago, people really cared about their cars. Then came a couple oil crises in cars that came from Japan. The new luxury cars have become all but generic, right down to their CD players and navigational systems.
Ford's J. Mays now attempts to make automobiles matter again. This man brought us the new Volkswagen Beetles. Mays claims that cars have become appliances instead of prized possessions. With all of the noise out there, the trick now, is to be as creative as you can in observing and then interpreting your expressive abilities. No product but the car demands such elegance in spite of its complexity. The new Beetle fails at most categories. The only thing it doesn't fail in is drop dead charm. Twenty years ago there were cars and trucks. Today there are cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, sport utility trucks, and vans. The variety will only broaden.
Henry Ford showed us that mass production based on a single design was the best way to make an affordable car. Even as vehicles became vastly more complex, that formula held fast because model changeovers were expensive.
Computer simulation and advances in production technology and materials have dramatically driven down costs. Companies can now profit on production runs of fewer than 20,000, as opposed to the old threshold of 100,000.
This spring, Ford acquired Volvo, that already owns Jaguar and a controlling interest an Japan's Mazda. So the design chief is picking his way through them and hiring talent from Japan and Germany. His mission at the moment is to revive such sagging brands as Lincoln and Mercury, while adding new panache to Ford.