Ford Taurus Designers Inspired by Popular Music- So What?

The Actual Taurus is Somewhat Less Inspired…

By Kevin Miller

03.13.2009

2010 Ford Taurus SHO at 2009 Chicago ShowFord’s press dispatches occasionally catch my attention as being over the top in one way or another. The Flex’s door sills and the Focus’ fender vents come quickly to mind. Yesterday the venerable company did it again, by linking the design of their new Taurus sedan with popular music.

The Taurus’ designers are said to have been inspired by artists such as Kem, Paul Oakenfold, and Citizen Cope- whoever they are. Maybe I’m too un-hip to recognize the names of the artists who inspired the new Taurus’ designers. But guess what? At thirty-five, I don’t consider myself particularly old nor particularly un-hip, though admittedly I pay little attention to pop culture.

Moreover, I don’t think that these musical artists are going to resonate with a majority of people who end up buying a Taurus. While Chrysler’s 300C had its proverbial moment in the sun when rappers were “blinging” the cars out for appearances in music videos, I seriously doubt that the Taurus will experience anywhere close to the Chrysler’s fifteen minutes of fame.

Musicians Influence the 2010 Ford Taurus Design ProcessWhile the Taurus is a solid car and a well-known name in the marketplace, it is unlikely to attract many “hip” buyers. Those people are likely to choose either a more efficient/hybrid vehicle (because it’s cool to go green), or vehicles with a more-hip nameplate. While the Taurus Exterior Design Manager, Earl Lucas, refers to the new car as “more upscale and sporty”, that is relative to the outgoing Taurus, so it isn’t really saying much.

While the team behind the Taurus felt strongly enough about this musical connection to issue a press release about it, all of the song and dance (pun intended) is unlikely to do much to increase interest in the big family sedan. Buyers in this vehicle class are likely to be motivated by style, value and comfort- not by knowing (or caring) what music inspired the designers.

The press release is below for your reading pleasure.

ATLANTA, March 12, 2009 – Popular culture is filled with examples of cars inspiring music. The Beach Boys loved their “Little Deuce Coupe” and, of course, Wilson Pickett sang about “Mustang Sally.”

Turns out it’s a two-way street: Music can inspire car designers, too.

A diverse range of musical artists, including Alicia Keys, Paul Oakenfold, Kem, Anthony Hamilton and Citizen Cope, influenced the design of the all-new 2010 Ford Taurus.

“Music helps us visual people paint pictures in our head,” said Earl Lucas, Exterior Design manager for the all-new Taurus. “We know the Taurus has to speak to a diverse group of people, so we chose artists who do the same with their songs.”

Citizen Cope, in particular, struck a chord with the design team. He said the music was perfect for what Ford is trying to achieve with its fresh interpretation of its flagship sedan.

“Citizen Cope’s music is so fresh and new – such a unique sound,” Lucas said. “Fresh, new and unique are some of the same qualities we were looking for in the new Taurus, so the music is such a great match to the vibe we were aiming for with the car.”

Songs that are straightforward and simple in particular tapped into the Taurus vibe.

“There’s an unpretentious dynamic to Taurus,” Lucas said. “The new car is more upscale and sporty, but it’s also subtle and can be appreciated and desired without being in your face.”

Music in the Taurus Design Process

Lucas said designers typically listen to music while they’re designing, either sketching on paper or rendering digitally. “The better the music, the more inspired the designer is when coming up with shapes,” Lucas said. “You just feel more creative. Music allows the designer to get into a space that is away from the pressure of the job.”

Music also was a key part of early presentations to the Ford marketing and management teams and the dealer body by helping create strong, positive feelings going forward.

“We really wanted the music to set the stage for what the new Taurus was all about, to convey to others the excitement and pride the development team had while designing and engineering the car,” said Kristin Hellman, assistant product marketing manager for Taurus. “We needed music that matched the emotion the car brings out in people when they see it for the first time.

“I worked on this program from the very start, watching the car develop every step of the way, and even I gasped the first time I saw our finished ‘show car,’ ” she said. “When we revealed the car to the larger Ford team, we had music that matched that enthusiasm. It really helped match the excitement level we were looking for, and the spontaneous standing ovation from the audience proved we had struck a chord.”

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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7 Comments

  1. Ford does tend to over-hype their products. I said two years ago that the Flex wouldn’t be the sales success that Ford thought it would be (they were expecting 100,000+ units annually): http://www.autosavant.com/2007/07/10/the-emperors-new-clothes/

    The 2010 Taurus gave up its awesome headroom just for a more fashionably low roofline. The old car was roomy as hell – now the new one actually felt fairly cramped inside. Further, the SHO will be pretty quick, but a 300C SRT8 would absolutely kill it on a trackk.

  2. I don’t know…I kind of see what they are getting at. They are not trying to market the Taurus at teeny boppers, but rather young Mom’s and Dad’s that still want to appear “hip,” but need more room without getting a minivan/suv/cuv. That’s the niche that made the first Taurus so successfull. I think it looks great.

    And the old Taurus/500 may have been roomy as Hell, but it was also ugly as Hell, so I’m willing to bet that most buyers will give up some headroom to have a better looking car.

  3. Well, on the outside it’s seriously better looking than the old Taurus/500. But I have to agree with the pres release. I’m also 35 and have no clue who those folks are. Let’s face it though, the demographic who buys the Taurus is not the demographic that bought the Taurus 20 years ago, rather it’s the same folks 20 years older.

    Definately More Peter, Paul, and Mary than Kem, Oakenfold, and Cope.

  4. Maybe they are trying to broaden the customer base for the car. They have certainly done the mechanical part to make it more relevant to younger buyers. Now they are going about the marketing side. What other full-size car would have a snowball’s chance in hell at appealing to anyone under 50? Don’t say 300 buyers. All the youngish drug dealers that have wanted one have gotten theirs and in many cases had them subsequently repossessed. The Avalon’s average age is well over 55, potentially pushing 70. My point is that Ford is trying to appeal to a younger crowd for this total remake of what many view as the current benchmark in the class. The Maxima has always tried to appeal to younger buyers but they never have succeeded either. If they can get the younger buyers to consider the Taurus they may very well have a chance to take away some of that mostly undeserved marketshare that the Camry currently holds. But for the Taurus to really help the Fusion nip away at the Camry they are going to have to find a few more younger buyers for the Taurus. To make their two prong attack from above and below the Camry to work they are going to have to expand the market for the full size segment beyond where it is now.

  5. In marketing you have to target about 10-15 years younger than the real target market. Older buyers will buy a “young” car, but younger buyers will not buy an “old” car. That’s why you see all those old timers in Scions but you never see a 20 year old in a (new) Buick.

  6. So what is wrong with fresh music to motivate fresh designers? I suppose you would have rather the music been Lawrence Welk or the New Christy Minstrels so you could have kicked them around the block for being so out of touch. Ford can’t win.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with Steven who posted on March 16. IMO, it’s interesting to know what inspires artists to create … and designers of cars are indeed artists. Does it warrant a press release? Why not. It’s a talking point … one that you started an interesting dialogue about and should spawn an intervention on your behalf. Please don’t tell me you’re still listening to “Whoomp There it Is” from your freshman year of college? Do yourself a favor and download yourself some Citizen Cope.

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