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Ford's Horbury Returns To Volvo

Posted by: David Kiley on April 1, 2009

Ford Americas chief of design Peter Horbury is leaving his post and will return to be head of design at Volvo Cars. Horbury had been head of Volvo design before coming to Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn a few years ago.

Horbury, a Brit, has overseen the following designs: the current Ford Focus (an update from the old one, not a total redo), the 2010 Ford Taurus, the 2009 Ford F Series; update of the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ, the Ford Flex, the Lincoln MKS and MKT, 2010 Mustang and of course several designs we haven’t seen yet.

Ford is reportedly close to selling Volvo. Indeed, it’s possible there is an agreement all but done with a suitor. Horbury will be hoping that Volvo’s new owner will keep him in place if a contract hasn’t already been worked out.

Horbury will be replaced in Dearborn by Moray Callum, a Scot by birth. At Volvo, Horbury is replacing Stephen Mattin who left the company.

Horbury is chiefly responsible for the current design scheme at Volvo exemplified in the S80, S60, S40 and XC90. The more masculine and “shouldered” exterior lines of those cars was a process led by Horbury before he came to Ford. The XC90 in particular was a very popular model before the company allowed the design to get old, and exchange rates hurt the car’s pricing and sales.

Horbury once told me that the inspiration behind the XC90 design was “to design the perfect automotive husband.”

Horbury will be missed. At an awfully tough time in Detroit, he has been a very good and dedicated bloke.

Reader Comments


April 3, 2009 3:44 AM

Volvo is all but a noose around Ford's neck. It must be sold; if Ford can find the next moron. It has been a money loser since ex-CEO Nassar acquired it about ten years ago as part of his strategic plan to bring cache and elan into the Ford brand by buying various respectable European auto brands. This is where Nassar's Egyptian culture failed him in America. Nassar failed miserably to understand that Ford must earn its own respect through quality design and manufacturing and no amount of purchased European cache and elan will uplift the debased Ford brand. Consequently, the skeptical American consumers have given Ford's premium auto brands a luke warm reception. As an offshoot of the American work ethic, Americans do not believe fancy clothing refines a man any more than a car with a legacy nameplate makes an exceptional automobile. Hence, Americans consider the Jaguar an over priced Ford. Ditto for Volvo. It is any wonder Ford's Aston Martin had to be sold at a foreclosure price? To be fair to Nassar, the fault lies not entirely with him. With their special voting and controlling shares of Ford Corporation, the Ford families have unwisely exerted their own special brand of stupidity upon the company. For a prosperous future, the best that could happen to Ford is ultimately bankruptcy so that Ford could be free of the idiotic directives from the Ford families. That's a good possibility. Given Ford's diminishing market share in today's economy, Ford may not even last two years if it continues to burn cash at its current rate.


April 3, 2009 8:55 AM

Horbury is a casuality of Ford's new global design plan. I've read somewhere (maybe here) that Horbury was none to pleased with Mullaly's plan to incorperate more of the kinetic design from Europe. So this move paves the way for the all new Fusion (2011-2012) to look just like the new Mondeo. Horbury was also left out of the Fiesta design as well which is the best looking small car there is.


April 3, 2009 8:58 AM

Since Ford has already said it's global language with be neither "bold american" nor "kinetic" but an evolution of both, your assertion holds no water. It will be a global language. As for Volvo, he led them before and once Mattin left it was logical for him to lead them again. There didn't have to be drama about it, it was a natural choice.

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