MIKE VARNS: ENGINEER SURROUNDED BY HYBRIDS AT WORK AND AT HOME

MIKE VARNS: ENGINEER SURROUNDED BY HYBRIDS AT WORK AND AT HOME

  • Mike Varns is surrounded by hybrids, both at work and at home
  • At Ford, Varns develops and incorporates hybrid components into conventional vehicles, but when he is at home, Varns enjoys hybrids of a different kind
  • Varns is a resident of Farmington, Mich.

Mike Varns is surrounded by hybrids, both at work and at home. As a Ford engineer, Varns is responsible for leading the program module team for Ford’s Hybrid Vehicle Program.

“We deliver hybrid components according to the cost, weight, quality and functional requirements of the vehicle program, and then we integrate them into conventional vehicles,” Varns explained. “We incorporate parts, such as the battery into the back of the vehicle, the transaxle into the engine compartment and the high-voltage wiring into the vehicle.”

Varns says he is involved in every process that makes a hybrid a “hybrid.”

“Ordinary vehicles don’t require charging ports,” he said, citing an example. “Once the planning analysts decide where the port should be located on the car, it’s my role to interface with the person responsible for that part – such as a fender – to make sure that it is executed properly.” Varns also interfaces with the assembly plants assigned to build the hybrids.

“We provide them with information on what’s unique about the hybrid components and how that will impact the assembly process and the facilities so they can plan for any tooling and process changes that need to be made, or we can make the necessary adjustments on our end,” he said.

Currently, Varns and his team are working on making sure the battery components they’re developing will fit through the rear side door of the vehicle on the assembly line so that they can be easily loaded into the back of the car.

“That’s the way the tooling is set up,” explained Varns. “If the batteries don’t fit, we have to either change our design or the assembly plant has to change the tooling they use to put the batteries into the vehicles, which could add considerable cost to the program.”

Varns, who has been working on Ford hybrid vehicles for the past six years, says he loves his work.

“It’s very rewarding working on green vehicles and developing new technology that is going to help better the planet,” he said.

Personal Insights and Fun Facts

  • At home, Varns enjoys hybrids of another kind – Hybrid Tea Roses. He has 20 rose bushes in his backyard. "I enjoy tending roses," he said. "I love tinkering around in the garden and having beautiful flowers all the time."
  • Varns also enjoys spending time with his family. He is married and has two children, ages 12 and 17.
  • The Varns family resides in Farmington, Mich.

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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 201,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the companys automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Fords products, please visit www.ford.com.

Oct. 5, 2009

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