Flex Designer Fired?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
flex designer fired

The Flex was supposed to be a big deal for Ford's downsizing SUV clientèle. But with production already stopped at Oaksville due to slow sales, the Flex is in deep doodoo. And now, Ford is announcing that the designer of the Flex is stepping down. Automotive News (sub req'd) couldn't get a straight answer from Ford as to why Richard Gresens has left the company, but there's basically two possibilities. One is that he's just another white collar statistic in Ford's war on salary costs, the other is that the Flex was as aerodynamic as a brick shithouse and its weak fuel economy is responsible for poor sales. Since nobody at Ford likely imagined that folks would be willing to downsize to the point where a 17/24 EPA-rated crossover is just not efficient enough, let's hope that Gresens isn't taking the fall for a whole company's worth of poor planning. Although given how auto biz politics work, we wouldn't be surprised. Meanwhile, Ford's vow to slice 15 percent of its salaried workforce is the perfect cover for corporate scapegoating.

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  • Machinehead Machinehead on Jul 30, 2008

    Some of you folks seem to be a little naive about the facts. 1) Richard was not fired because the Flex was a failure. The head count reduction numbers had to be achieved. He was let go because he had the lowest seniority of all of the Ford design chiefs…Not the lowest performance. The complexities of a large corporation are staggering including the legal aspects. Separations (firings) must be done the most legal way possible or you open a company up to lawsuits. Richard was a Design Chief…Not senior management. The styling direction is dictated by senior management. The Design Chiefs execute the direction. 2) They did not stop production of the Flex. It is made in Ontario with the Edge. They simply canceled the 3rd shift.

  • NeonNoodle NeonNoodle on Jul 30, 2008
    ...a Crossover saved Buick. Really? When was that?
  • NeonNoodle NeonNoodle on Jul 30, 2008
    The Flex is another answer to a question nobody asked. Much like the Edge. Why does Ford need a 5-seat SUV…when they already have one called Escape? I agree with you that the Flex is the answer to an unasked question, but not the Edge. Yes, they are both 5 seaters, but the Escape is technically a mini-ute, and the Edge is a true crossover and argueably they appeal to two different customers. Unlike the Flex, the Edge (including its varients) is apparantly selling in decent numbers so it must have at least some appeal.
  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 30, 2008
    SherbornSean: I propose a new rule: you’re not allowed to whine that automakers should sell more wagons in the US unless you own a Magnum, Legacy, Avant, etc. How about if I wanted a wagon but settled for a CUV in '99 and only buy cars once every decade or so??? My replacement vehicle will have a tailgate too - either a hatchback or a wagon... Way too versatile compared to a small sedan.