24. Sheryl Connelly

Futurist, Ford Motor Co.

The Car Clairvoyant

Sheryl Connelly is clear about her limits: "I have no crystal ball." But to get Ford thinking about a trend like the aging population, she’ll bring in market examples from other walks of life: a Korean cell phone for diabetics, a London car service called Driving Miss Daisy, anti-aging soaps. The result? Designers who reimagine rearview cameras and blind-spot alerts, pushing customer-friendly next-gen safety features such as SmartGauge and Brake Coach.

[Image courtesy of Ford]

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  • skip1930

    I saw a 1977 Thunderbird on the highway over the weekend. OMG, what a whale. Then the old brain cells kicked in, and dragged up the memory that the late 70s ‘birds were in fact downsized, and were built on the old Ford Torino platform. The Torino in it’s day was a mid-sized car. So by the late 70s, was the T-bird still “mid-sized” at 217” long, 3500lb, 114” wheelbase? Or had it’s shrunken size been eclipsed by shrinking size categories such that it was now a full-size car? I really don’t know. But the big square ‘77 looked like an aircraft carrier going down the road compared all the little rounded off blobby cars around it.
    I saw a two door 1977 Chevy Nova the day after that. Now I know that the Nova was sold as a compact car, because the Vegas I was driving at that time were sold as sub-compacts. The 111” wheelbase of the ‘77 Nova was just 3” shorter than that of the T-bird, but at 196” long and only 72” wide the Nova was 20” shorter, 6” narrower and more lightly built.
    These days the dimensions of that late 70s compact car almost perfectly fit what Chevy would like us to believe is a full sized car, the 2013 Impala. The 2014 Impala is 201” long with a 111.7” wheelbase, half an inch wider than the old Nova, yet tips the scales at 3800lb, 300lb heavier than the bloated brick that was the 77 bird. With engines just about half the size to boot, yet it goes much faster and gets at least double the mpg.
    So we’re only really talking about a foot and a half between the ‘77 T-bird and the 2014 Impala. So why does the old Ford seem so gigantic? Is it width alone? The new Impala looks small and feels smaller. I don’t get it.
    I’m just musing here. I guess I don’t really have a point. But I notice that most full sized American pickup trucks are 78-80” wide, and that gives plenty of shoulder room. I wouldn’t mind one bit if today’s smaller cars were half a foot wider. Kind of like the AMC Pacer tried to do, only done right this time around. Where are those “wide track” people when you need them? Oh wait, never mind. Pontiac is gone too, right? Not that the “wide track” 97 Grand Prix was even 73” across. No, that was a big con.

  • Mabry E Pouncy

    Why Why Why is every car ,other then the Mustang, 4 Door...2 Door cars have longer doors and make entry/exit easier for older people...plus they look much more stylish...not many older people have friends in the back seat.

  • bitchinmona

    Aww… that's just sad. I hate the idea that older people don't have friends in the backseat. 

  • Walter Breville

    Another bad feature of present-day cars is the wiper/washer & other controls on the turn signal stalk. I miss cars I had 40 years ago that had turn signals only for signaling turns, wiper/washer knob on the dashboard so much better!

  • Walter Breville

    I'm a veteran Ford purchaser who HATES controls like MyFord Touch!  Bring back good old fashioned radio-heater-a/c controls using plain knobs and buttons, no touch screens...or at least make this a choice instead of modern touch-screen controls for new Ford vehicles.