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Shock tactics ruled off PAG drawing board

Peter Horbury, the new head of design at Ford's Premier Automotive Group, wants to share design ideas across the operation, but recognises the need for brand individuality. He says his role involves “bringing people together to stay apart”.

Based at Ford's Ingeni design centre in Soho, London, Horbury will have an input in the design strategy for Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. “Hopefully I can help put design higher up the agenda at PAG to a point where I am on all product boards and meetings,” he says.

“It is important in the quest for economies of scale with platform sharing, but what we don't want to do is to cause confusion over our common platforms which is why individual identity is important.”

Horbury will report to Ford's global vehicle product chief Richard Parry Jones, as well as head of design J Mays. He will oversee the chief designers at the British brands: Ian Callum at Jaguar, Geoff Upex at Land Rover and Henrik Fisker at Aston Martin.

“I don't feel the need to shock people out of their idea of what a car should be,” he says. “The development of styling should be evolutionary, retaining elements that people will recognise.”

Horbury has been credited with changing the identity of Volvo into a more sporty and upmarket brand over the past 11 years without losing the brand's core values, particularly safety. He believes the development of Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover should be based on exploiting their national identity.

“Jaguar, for example, is British, but not the British of Le Mans 1955. Britain is now about architecture fashion and music, there is no reason why car companies in the UK to be stuck in the past. Jaguar needs to build on its heritage of sportiness and elegance.”

Horbury will also oversee Volvo although he plans to appoint a design successor. Prior to joining Volvo, Horbury worked as director of styling and design for UK-based specialist MGA Developments. In addition he has worked on key Ford product programmes in Europe, such as the Sierra, Escort and Granada, as well as a numb er of Chrysler vehicles. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he was named Autocar magazine's Designer of the Year in 1998.

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