The Woodward Dream Cruise is gone for another year, but it did give Ford Motor Co. a chance to showcase the new Icon Group, which is now the custodian of the legendary Ford Mustang and is now expected to show off a “Mustang-like” sport-utility vehicle.
Dave Pericak, director of enterprise product line management – Ford Icons, said during an interview that the Icon product team’s objective, is to maintain the love affair customers already have with iconic vehicles such as Ford Mustang, Bronco and Raptor.
“This is a legacy,” Pericak said during a conversation with reporters at the Dream Cruise where he was surrounded by Mustangs. “These vehicles are the face of the Ford Motor Co.”
Amy Marentic, director, regional product line management – Ford Icons, said the Mustang already gets more views on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram than any other vehicle sold by Ford or by any other manufacturer for that matter.
The icons also get more “earned media” attention than any other vehicles, Martentic added, which means Ford doesn’t have to spend a ton of money promoting them
Marentic, who during a short tour in in East Asia helped make Lincoln one of the fastest growing brands in China and worked with the Ford’s autonomous vehicles, added Ford’s new enterprise model, has re-organized the company around product lines with responsibility not only for not only engineering but also future product planning as well as profit and loss.
“The iconic vehicles in the in the Icon team’s portfolio already have an enormous of goodwill,” she said. The group’s objective now is come up with products that maintain the goodwill created by the popular Mustang and Raptor.
“We’re rallying the company around the iconic products,” she said. “We have to make sure they’re around for another 55 years,” Marentic added, noting the long-running success of the Mustang, which made its first appearance at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
In addition to their dominance on social media, the iconic vehicles have become export leaders for Ford. The Raptor has done very well in China and 20% of all Mustangs built in the Ford Assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, are sold outside North America. “The Mustang outsells Porsche in Germany,” Marentic noted.
Pericak also confirmed that Ford is preparing to a launch a sport-utility vehicle that will be heavily influenced by Mustang’s traditional design, which has been so popular during the past half century. The public is expected to get its first peek at the new SUV in November, a Ford spokesman said.
Part of his mission is also to maintain Ford’s tradition of building vehicles that are fast, nimble and fun to drive,” Pericak said. For example, he’s working on programs that ensure that manual transmissions remain available in Ford’s iconic vehicles now and in the future.
“We intend to continue to give them the manual transmission,” Pericak said. “We do not intend to walk away from it. I can tell you that.”
However, electric powertrains will be part of the Icon portfolio, he said.
“We want to create vehicles that that make people smile,” Marentic said. “We don’t plan to spend a lot o money on marketing. You don’t become an icon. The customers make you one. We’re just curating them.”