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Lincoln Is Ready For Max Wolff, Luxury Brand's New Design Chief

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On: Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 11:15AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Lincoln Is Ready For Max Wolff, Luxury Brand's New Design Chief

Imagine that your brand new job is to come up with the designs for 7 new models of Lincoln cars within the next four years. That’s the task for new design chief, Max Wolff, as he moves over from the Cadillac division to the Lincoln brand. First step: hit the ground running.

“We have cars to design and a cycle plan, so we are going to have to get off our duffs and get it going,” said J Mays, Ford Motor Co.’s global design chief.

Clearly Max is up to the challenge or he never would have accepted the gig. The first potential peek at Max’s future work could come sometime in 2012 when the new line of Lincoln will be rolled out.

Apparently, the Lincoln brand works for SUVs and crossovers, but not so much for cars. Overall sales for 2010 were pegged at 11% over 2009, thanks to those SUVs. Under Max’s design guidance, Cadillac had a big gain of 35% last year. That’s why he’s a natural pick to boost Lincoln’s future.

Mays knows just how he wants to handle Max. “What I want to do with Max this coming quarter is let him get his feet under him, which is not easy at Ford. It is a big company, and he will have a lot of inputs from not only myself but Jim Farley and the marketing team. We have to get his head around the entire brand,” he said Monday at the Detroit auto show.

Max will get to pick his own design team players. “I want Max to do an assessment based on the cycle plan and what he thinks he needs. He will come back; I will lay it out with probably less budget than he thinks he wants, and then we will have a look,” Mays said.

What Ford is really hoping to get out of Max is a small crossover inspired by Ford’s own compact-car platform featured in the Ford Focus and Escape. The 38-year-old designer hails originally from Australia. He was on the design team for Cadillac exteriors since 2007. Befor that, Max was toiling away at General Motors where he worked in South Korea at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology. That was when Max was on the team that developed the Chevrolet Cruze Compact.


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