Is Ford’s Development System set up for the Future

GPDS (Global Product Development System) was developed from 2 AIAG standards, namely PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) and APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning). The resulting GPDS includes 31 elements, covering everything from quality processes, change management processes and revision control.

The main purpose of GPDS is to improve competitiveness of Ford Motor Company products, while maximizing commonalities and resources and minimizing development time, cost and investment.

This system is defined through all gateways/ milestones, all deliverables and work streams for all internal and external departments and suppliers.

The VPP (Vehicle Program Plan) timing template determines the complete timing, from scratch to vehicle introduction (job1). Each vehicle program is defined by 3 major categories.

  1. Tophat – all unique – and upper body parts
    a. to last for 1 cycle life 6-7 years.
  2. Platform – all common – and underbody parts
    a. to last for 10 – 12 years as base for upcoming future tophat programs.
  3. Powertrain (PT) – engine and transmission.

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Using a scaling from 0 (no changes versus current model) – 6 (complete new/ major changes vs current model). For example: 6-6-6 means everything is completely new.

All vehicles are categorized in groups such as B-/C-/CD car. B-Car like Fiesta or Ecosport, C-Car like Focus, Kuga, C-Max and CD like Mondeo/Fusion, Galaxy…

Around 2000 Ford had to coop with the challenge to develop a platform for midsize vehicle (C-Car) to suit Ford, Volvo and Mazda needs. After selling JLR, Volvo and Mazda shares around 2010 the next C-car platform was developed with new challenges to coop with hybrid vehicle.

In 2017 Jim Hackett was announced President and CEO of Ford Motor Company starting a new era. Revising future vehicle programs and concentrating on SUV vehicles. Complete

organizations worldwide have been restructured and new Electric Vehicle (EV) organizations have been created.

The transformation has just begun. Focusing on the Ford platform strategy I don’t see yet the drive to create a unique ‘global’ EV platform. Modifying a conventional / combustion engine-based platform will always be a compromise and not competitive. The requirements/ boundaries are too different. A conventional platform requires specific requirements, such as high ground clearance for the exhaust system, fuel tank and shape for crash performance.

A platform for electrical vehicles (EV) requires flat surfaces for ‘large’ batteries to increase the driving range and to enable potential quick battery change-over. VW just recently announced the development of a unique electrical platform the MEB.

Current GPDS and VPP system require a major change for EV platforms and interaction between all affected organizations.

Regardless of other just as important trends like autonomous driving and mobility, the era of combustion engines is ending for future vehicles. Midterm, only the OEM with a smart and competitive execution will succeed and survive

This is a guest post of Mohammed Assef, Managing Director of MA-Solutions, Interim Management & Consulting

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