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Ford Shuffles Design Heads

Ian Callum takes over Americas, Peter Horbury goes to Volvo.

by on Apr.01, 2009

TK

The gregarious and decidedly "politically incorrect" Horbury now returns to Sweden and Volvo.

Faced with the sudden departure last week of design-head Steven Mattin from loss-making Volvo, “to pursue other opportunities,” Ford Motor Company is sending Peter Horbury, executive director Ford Americas design, back to Gothenburg, Sweden, as vice president of design. Moray Callum, currently director of design for cars, Ford Americas, will replace Horbury as executive director, Ford Americas design in Dearborn. Both positions are effective May 1. 

Horbury was Volvo’s design director in 1991, where he attempted to bring some more rounded shapes to the stolid and boxy Swedish brand, at a time when its safety marketing position was being successfully challenged by European and Japanese makers. The 1992 hybrid-electric ECC concept, with an extreme aerodynamic shape, was the first visible sign of his desire to move from the angular forms of the 850 model it was based on. However, it was not until 1997 that the influence of the gregarious and decidedly politically incorrect Horbury was felt in a meaningful way, when the first production cars appeared, the C70 and ’98 S80. Horbury rounded the look inside and out, and contributed the car-length shoulders still in use today. Volvo cars was acquired by Ford in 1998 for more than $6 billion and incorporated into its fledgling Premier Automotive Group.

In 2002, Horbury was appointed executive director responsible for studios of all the PAG brands — Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo and Aston Martin. After moving to the United States in early 2004, Horbury developed a “new design DNA” for the Lincoln brand, initially expressed in the MKR Concept and evolving  into the MKT and Lincoln C Concept. Volvo is the only remaining brand of  the now failed PAG at Ford. Sales of the others during the last two years raised desperately needed cash. Volvo, too, is currently for sale and rumors of Chinese bidders abound.

“Peter is returning to Volvo at the perfect time to lead the design team in developing the next generation of Volvo products,” said Stephen Odell, president and CEO, Volvo Cars.  (more…)