Ford Taurus Designers Inspired by Popular Music- So What?
The Actual Taurus is Somewhat Less Inspired…
By Kevin Miller
Ford’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.
While 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.”
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