Typically, an engineer's role at a large OEM is in many ways at odds with that, say, of an accountant in the same company. The priority for the former is to develop a product that is better than what is on offer, while the latter's concern primarily is to balance the financial books.
For someone like Ulrich Koesters, Ford of Europe's vehicle line director for C/D cars, however, the lines are becoming somewhat blurred. He says: “I am an engineer by heart, coming from a background in the powertrain division, but my current role is much more strategic.
“I am asking and answering questions like what are the new products we need to have, and what features do we want to bring in. And all of this is done with a bit more of a business focus.
“When we invest in new technologies, it is always a challenge to work out how difficult it will be to develop it and whether the solution will be something that the customer will perceive as a benefit.
“It is about making the technology work for the customer, for the right product, in the right way and at a cost that is affordable. My job allows me to take part in those discussions.”
As vehicle line director, Koesters is not responsible for just one development project but overseeing a number of them. Most recently, he was tasked with applying the decision-making nous required of him to the iconic North American muscle car, the Mustang.
As well as the diametrically opposed engineering and business factors that had to be considered, the project had the additional challenge of retaining the legacy of the vehicle while simultaneously presenting a version that would also be attractive to the European market.
“There were a few attributes that we said we did not want to change; the sound of the V8 was something we deliberately kept,” says Koesters.
“Even though European customers typically like a bit more understatement, there are certain appearances and sounds associated with the vehicle that the customer would want to have.”
The decision to retain the distinctive roar of the V8 engine has brought on an unforeseen issue that is affecting Koesters personally. He says: “I drive my Mustang through my neighbourhood in the morning to work now, and I start before most people. So when the V8 is producing this sound I think I wake up everybody as, when I see them at the weekend, they have this big smile on their face.”
|tags:||November 2015 Ford|