By on June 14, 2019

Lincoln Motor Company

That didn’t take long. After six years spent crafting the design language of Lincoln’s growing stable of vehicles, design director David Woodhouse abruptly resigned earlier this week. The 50-year-old’s connection with parent Ford Motor Company was a long one — 20 years, since his days at Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.

The mystery as to where Woodhouse would land next is over. On Friday, Nissan announced the former Lincoln designer will go to town on the next generation of the brand’s vehicles.

Starting July 1st, Woodhouse will set up shop in San Diego as the new vice president of Nissan Design America. He’ll also have a seat on the company’s Global Nissan Design Management Committee.

Maybe a new eye for style will help the automaker (and especially its Infiniti division) turn around what’s become a grim situation. Nissan needs all the help it can get.

“David’s talent, leadership and vision will ensure that NDA shapes an exciting future for the Infiniti and Nissan brands as well as groundbreaking user experience concepts for our customers for years to come,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design.

At Lincoln, Woodhouse helped usher in a new era of subdued elegance and visual refinement that marked a departure from past efforts. His stamp can be found on the Continental-esque corporate grille and European lines found on the brand’s new crop of products. Time will tell in what direction Woodhouse takes Nissan and Infiniti.

[Image: Lincoln Motor Company]

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34 Comments on “Ex-Lincoln Design Boss Shows up at Nissan...”

  • avatar

    Nice to hear he found a spot to land.

    Too bad it wasn’t Lexus.

  • avatar

    Nissan certainly needs the help, I guess if anyone can fix the Maxima it’s Woodhouse. I bet they’re paying him A LOT

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think the Maxima is one of their better-looking vehicles, even if the design is busy.

      It’s the Infiniti models that need help. Dear Infiniti: drop the dual-screen nonsense. No one wants it.

  • avatar

    That’s good, since Nissan needs all the help they can get in the styling department. Now if Lexus could find a styling chief…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Yep, when you go to a competitor, you get the cordial (hopefully) walk to the door.

    San Diego, new job, pay raise = good for him.

    IMO, Nissan/Infiniti’s styling seems OK to me. My problem with Infiniti is that every model looks the same to me. Their sales problems lie in other areas.

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder if this is part of an attempt by the Japanese to extricate Nissan from its “Renault alliance”? Renault owns something like 43% of Nissan, but it’s not a majority yet, though enough in most companies to assert control.

      With the Japanese government assisting, It’s theoretically possible for Nissan to break free of the alliance. I don’t doubt Nissan management has had enough of Renault under Ghosn, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Japanese government is unhappy with the influence of the French government.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Well, I’m pleased for Woodhouse and I think he’s done an admirable job at Lincoln. I truly hope Nissan will welcome his ideas. Frankly, I think Nissan’s current products somehow manage to be boring, anonymous and ugly – all at the same time. That’s a difficult feat and dubious accomplishment. I think Infinitis look better but still need help. I wish the best for all involved. Now Nissan can buckle down on improving reliability.

    • 0 avatar

      “Well, I’m pleased for Woodhouse and I think he’s done an admirable job at Lincoln”

      Wow! Does that include the garish waterfall grille, and the Vassily Kandinsky psychedelic pinwheel wheels? Lincoln lost any shred of design dignity it might have had years ago. If they want to attract well heeled buyers away form imports they need to get rid of their designer and…oh wait!

      • 0 avatar

        No, it doesn’t include the crap Lincolns. He was there six years and gradually got rid of the schlock. Worth keeping one’s mouth closed so that foot cannot be inserted, especially in public. However, been guilty of similar things myself, so understand the error.

        • 0 avatar

          The Lincoln Navigator on the landing page has the pinwheel wheels he mentioned, and it also looks pretty garish. I don’t think replacing the whale grills with Jaguar’s recycled XJ grill represented some sort of breakthrough either. Great styling is incredibly difficult to find in this over-regulated car world, but Woodhouse’s stuff ain’t it.

    • 0 avatar

      “boring, anonymous and ugly”

      Well put. I’ll add cheap to that as well.

  • avatar

    Honestly I think he should just go to infiniti and Nissan should hire their own separate designer. You’ve already gone through this where Nissan’s and infinities look too much alike. I want to see a Nissan with its own styling.

  • avatar

    So who’s designs is he going to poorly copy for Nissan?

  • avatar

    This is good news. I’ve always liked Nissan. I still regret selling my Xterra two years ago! Their cars actually look pretty good now. Their crossovers (and this is where the sales will be!) look terrible, with the exception of the Kicks. They can’t afford to screw up the design of the new Frontier. Maybe he can fix the Titan when it’s updated at some point. The Titan has really awkward appearance.

  • avatar

    People don’t like working for Hackett. Hackett lost a lot of top talent at Steelcase as well.

  • avatar

    Did he design the MKZ? I actually really like its exterior. Its side profile is one of my favourite. Let’s not mention the Ford interior….

  • avatar

    Sounds like he got head hunted. Good for him. Not sure where he lived working for Ford, but it’s a safe bet it was somewhere around Detroit. Detroit to San Diego is a nice upgrade.

    Nissan could use the design help, but they really need help with someone either getting the CVT right, or getting rid of it straightaway.

    • 0 avatar

      I am not so sure about San Diego. All those west coast cities became homeless camps and sh!tholes. One of the reasons I avoid SF and go there only if absolutely necessary.

      • 0 avatar

        Those cities are great, but only if you can afford the real estate. And the real estate is expensive because lots of people want to live there.

        I live in the Midwest, but seriously considered moving to Silicon Valley a in 2015 (I have the skills). However, my $150k house compared favorable with $1.5m houses out there.

        In other words, I’d need to achieve the Silicon Valley Dream in my hometown before I can seriously consider moving there.

        Those west coast cities look like wonderful places to live, if you’re rich enough to think a $1.5 million 1800 square foot house is a good deal. Woodhouse probably can afford that.

        As for me, let’s just say my next (and 3rd) startup will be on the Silicon Prairie.

        • 0 avatar

          Luke, listen, forget about big cities near Silicon Valley – there is nothing good about them. They are dirty, smelly, drug addicts and mentally ill are everywhere. You cannot just live inside your bubble and pretend that problems do not exist. Just rent apartment or town home in suburbs and find a good job. I came here with only $10K in cash in my pocket to jump start new life and now own over million dollar home. And that not counting IRAs, investments and stocks. You can do it if you want just need to have a passion, will to work hard long hours and weekends.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    that’s all fine and dandy to hire him as I think he’s talented , but I agree with jkross22. Nissan’s problems are with their powertrains

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree on the CVT. I wouldn’t want a Nissan with the CVT especially when it cost 4k to 6k to replace it. I will pass on any Nissan.

    • 0 avatar

      I really like the CVT in our Civic, and I liked the E-CVT in our Prius as well. CVTs solve the problem of fixing the mismatch between engines and wheels.

      I also really liked the manual transmissions I drove for my first 250k miles or so.

      Step-shift automatic transmissions are my least favorite. They’re kind of a worst of both worlds, though electronic control helps a lot!

      My all-time favorite drivetrains are electric, though. It’s typically just a straight reduction gear, with no natural vibration anywhere. Smooth and quiet!

      My favorite driving experience is electric, followed by CVT/ECVT, followed by a manual gearbox, and lastly everything else. Alas, “everything else” vehicles are bloody useful for getting me through my day, so I use them.

      I can’t speak to Nissan’s driving experience, but CVTs are really good when done right!

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