Wolff Out, Woodhouse In As Lincoln Design Director
The Lincoln division of Ford has replaced former design director Max Wolff with David Woodhouse, the former head of the Blue Oval’s Premier Automotive Group, as part of the premium division’s $1 billion makeover.
Bloomberg reports Wolff will remain with Lincoln as the brand’s exterior design boss, and that the change occurred in December with little fanfare, as Ford no longer issues press releases for promotions below the vice president level, according to spokesman Stephane Cesareo. Both design chiefs were brought over from General Motors to Ford, with Wolff arriving in 2010 from Cadillac, and Woodhouse from GM’s design studios in 1999.
Wolff’s biggest mark on Lincoln is the current MKZ, which he reworked immediately upon arrival in 2010. Though the premium sedan — based upon the Ford Fusion — faced production problems that saw the overall brand’s sales fall to a low not seen in over 30 years, the MKZ’s success boosted Q1 2014 sales to 36 percent.
Aside from his styling work with PAG, Woodhouse was in charge of Ford’s advanced design studio in California between 2004 and 2009, and guided Lincoln’s strategy between July through December of 2013 before becoming the brand’s new director of design.
I'm going to drop this theory here: Lincoln made a mistake by dropping the Blackwood. Seems like they had this positioned to be their Town Car replacement, as it was only rwd and the bed worked more like a trunk. The important piece being it would be a truck in CAFE. It was knocked for not having 4wd when the Cadillac did, but I don't think they were built for the same targets. If they kept it, and tailored it more to Town Car buyers with each refresh, instead of dropping it and offering a dressed up truck Mark LT, and they would have a traditional Town Car replacement instead of the MKT they want to steer Town Car buyers to now.
I don't know the internal politics behind this, and it may just be a case of a talented designer who's not a talented manager -- but demoting Wolff after only one of his cars has hit the market just reeks of failure to me.
Downward spiral, huh?