MIKE ARBAUGH: WHILE IN PROCESS, DESIGNER PICTURED HIS FAMILY, SELF INSIDE NEW FORD EXPLORER

MIKE ARBAUGH: WHILE IN PROCESS, DESIGNER PICTURED HIS FAMILY, SELF INSIDE NEW FORD EXPLORER


Mike Arbaugh, Interior Studio Manager
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Throughout development of the all-new Ford Explorer, Interior Studio Manager Mike Arbaugh would sit in the interior mockup – and, later in the process, in prototype vehicles – imagining himself as driver and his family as passengers.
 
“It really adds a new dimension to the design process when you represent the target customer,” he said. Arbaugh, who just got married, plans to buy his wife a new Explorer as soon as it’s available. “The kids – hers and mine – are pretty excited about it,” he said.
 
What’s that like for the interior designer?
 
“It represents the coming together of my personal life with my profession,” Arbaugh said. “How cool is that?”
 
Arbaugh joined the Explorer design team just as the program was starting to gain momentum. During a wave of staffing changes, he was appointed to replace a departing colleague in leading Explorer interior design. Arbaugh’s vision for the Explorer interior combined some kinetic European cues with sophisticated North American design language.
 
“We had two key objectives in the new Explorer design brief,” Arbaugh said. “First, we wanted to make the interior much more sophisticated than the previous model. The second objective was compliance with European standards for interior surfaces and corner radii. While it isn’t widely known, Explorer is our most frequently exported North American nameplate.”
 
Arbaugh and team took great pride in the Explorer interior, which is decidedly more upscale. He believes the technically advanced audio, navigation and climate controls will combine with the new global Ford DNA switchgear to impart an unexpected sense of elegance for SUV buyers.
 
A passionate audiophile, Arbaugh takes pride in the metal framed speaker grilles mounted in the first-row door panels.
 
“Since I always carry a flash drive loaded with my favorite music, I’m really excited about the media bin in the center console, which is concealed by a spring-loaded door,” he said. “It’s effective and attractive.”
 
Arbaugh has been with Ford for close to 20 years, joining the company right after graduating from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS) with a degree in automotive design.
 
What changes at Ford has he observed?
 
“Starting with the launch of the then-new 2003 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, Ford has continually raised the bar on interior design and craftsmanship,” Arbaugh said.
 
“Interior design and execution is a higher priority these days,” he added. “And at the end of the day, the customer is the winner.”
 
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
  • An eastside Detroit-area native, Arbaugh graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in 1982
  • Before automotive design at CCS, Arbaugh studied engineering and product design while running track for Michigan State University
  • Arbaugh just got married, establishing a household with five children between the ages of 9 and 13
  • Reflecting his attention to detail, Arbaugh collects pens and timepieces
  • Prior to joining Ford, Arbaugh served internships with Prince Corporation and ASC, at the time both tier-one automotive suppliers
  • Before Explorer, Arbaugh worked on designs for an array of Ford nameplates, from the 1995 Ford Mustang through the 2009 Ford F-150
 
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln andMercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010
, and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
 
July 26, 2010

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