DRAWING "STRENGTH" FROM FAIR LANE ESTATE
The new Ford Fairlane concept draws its inspiration and name from Henry Ford's sprawling, family-centric estate, named Fair Lane.
"Sometimes inspiration is just around the corner," says J Mays, referring to the minutes-long drive from Ford's Design Center to the Fair Lane estate. "The power of working for this family-run business is our focus to build timeless vehicles, like the Fairlane concept, with enduring design and lifestyle principles shaped by one man, Henry Ford."
Fair Lane, built from 1914-16 in Dearborn, Mich., was Ford's escape from the growing opulence surrounding his Detroit mansion amid the commotion of a burgeoning city and suburbs.
The Fair Lane estate afforded Ford and his wife, Clara, an elegant-enough environment to entertain political and business leaders. Their priority, however, was to provide son, Edsel, and four grandchildren, a casual atmosphere with family-focused entertainment options, an alternative from the ways of socialites and safety from the city's ills.
"I believe a home isn't four walls; it's a place where you get strength to go on," Henry Ford once said of the Fair Lane estate, named after an area in County Cork, Ireland, the birthplace of his foster grandfather, Patrick Ahern.
One step inside the Fair Lane grounds is a refreshing step away from pretentious by-products of wealth, wrapping visitors in a purposeful design evident across Henry Ford's life work.
While extravagant relative to average homes, the Fair Lane estate was considerably more restrained than other mansions of the time. In fact, Henry Ford only spent extra to pamper his family. The Fair Lane estate included an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley and a mini-farm with machinery built to the scale of Ford's grandchildren.
Through the estate, Ford also passed along to his family a fine appreciation for the outdoors, a trait that great-grandson, Bill Ford, Jr., carries on today as Ford Motor Company's chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Henry Ford, the son of a farmer, was more often found active amidst Fair Lane's natural habitat rather than idling in the surrounding comfort.
"Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice," Ford once said.
The estate's most dominant design character comes from the rough-hewn Ohio limestone rocks that fortify the main quarters and summer house. The limestone was specifically chosen for its function of defying humidity and timeless appeal that easily blends into the 1,300-acre grounds dominated by woods and water.
The new Fairlane people-mover concept embraces the estate's guiding design principle of a relaxed, yet sophisticated environment that prioritizes spaciousness and function. Both embrace a need to be connected to the city while offering a quick, seamless transition outdoors to enjoy the luxury of time.
Ford Motor Company purchased the Fair Lane Estate in 1952, briefly opening it for tours while housing its corporate archives there. The company donated the residence, powerhouse and 210 acres to the University of Michigan in 1957 to establish its Dearborn campus. A small staff, financial contributors and 250 volunteers continue maintenance and a half-century long renovation of the estate, and continue offering tours that were reinstituted in 1970s.
Please visit http://www.henryfordestate.com for much more information on the estate's rich history and current operations.
FAIRLANE CONCEPT COOKS UP NEW RECIPE FOR ACTIVE FAMILIES
One glance at the Ford Fairlane concept's well-proportioned exterior belies its spacious interior, which is ingeniously packaged with innovations far beyond today's people-movers.
For example, the flexible interior features a spacious, durable and easily washable rear utility zone that includes the industry's three-way tailgate and innovative "rolling galley" integrated into the rear door. This unique cruising culinary creation is designed to preserve people's most precious commodity – time – along with their food.
"Fairlane's rear utility area is as big as a minivan and as flexible as your kitchen," says Kris Tomasson, designer. "The sophisticated interior design is balanced by durable, easily washable materials on the load floor so customers can use Fairlane like the dog cage-type rear cargo areas in SUVs."
Reams of research show that, between long commutes and work hours, today's working family is pressed to squeeze more quality time into their schedule. For example, one Ford study shows that 63 percent of Baby Boomers would trade two weeks of salary for two weeks of vacation.
Young families with children are equally challenged by time. Generation Xers, once adrift with little focus on anything but MTV, are now focused on families – 62 percent are in the family life stage – with little spare time. In fact, they pay considerably more for their free time than any other generation, spending 78 percent more on personal services to unload mundane tasks. Nearly 70 percent reported a desire for more quiet time alone.
The Fairlane's "rolling galley" improves quality of life, allowing people to move food-preparation duties from the confines of their kitchen to more lively social scenes of family events or sporting activities.
"I'd much rather make a sandwich with friends at the game than in a quiet kitchen," says Tomasson.
The rolling galley's built-in refrigerator keeps food fresh over long hauls, embracing the spirit of jaunts to the countryside. Food and beverages can be stored in this innovative refrigerator that securely seals into the rear door, instead of coolers that eat into precious interior space.
Moreover, the second- and third-row load floor and galley apparatuses are finished in a modern, sophisticated brushed stainless steel that is durable, easily washable and great looking.
"As the Fairlane concept proves, great, modern design can be functional and beautiful at the same time," says Tomasson.
FAIRLANE CONCEPT HELPS BOOMERS SKID AGING
The new Ford Fairlane concept adds flare and flexibility for a Baby Boomer population that is redefining "growing old" through active, age-defying lifestyles. Ford's new stylish people mover hits the sweet spot for a generation focused on healthy and active lifestyles, lingering family commitments that are postponing empty-nest freedom, and reversing the signs of aging through exercise and nutrition.
The Baby Boomer generation makes up 27 percent of the population and a stunning 44 percent of new-vehicle buyers and 48 percent of luxury-vehicle purchases.
The Boomer market impact represents 50 percent of the country's disposable income. In a little more than a decade, they will inherit more than $17.5 trillion and control 75 percent of the country's wealth.
"Ford is aggressively exploring new ways to meet the quickly changing needs of Baby Boomers," says Steve Lyons, president, Ford Division. "We have the unique advantage that Ford is the most respected brand among leading-edge Boomers based on our research. We plan to strengthen that bond and draw in younger Boomers with a flurry of new products that uniquely addresses their timeless youth.
"Baby Boomers are shifting the way we age. They work, go the gym, go out with friends – they're basically twenty-somethings all over again, with a lot more cash on hand. Their idea of family focus extends beyond the immediate home as they are caring for elderly parents and grandkids."
"I also think there's a big opportunity to sell this vehicle to young families who need room but who want distinctive styling too," says Lyons.
Boomers are defined by two distinct factions – leading-edge Boomers (LEBs), ages 45-58 making up 19 percent of the U.S. population, and trailing-edge Boomers (TEBs) that range from 40-44 years old and comprise eight percent of the population. The older LEB group is comprised of over-achievers shaped by geopolitical events like the Vietnam War and Civil Rights activism. The eldest of the LEBs are just reaching retirement.
Quite the contrary, the younger, smaller TEB group is the first "me" generation and grew up in the shadows of LEBs, deriving its general personality from post-Vietnam bitterness, the Energy Crisis, Reaganomics and the dawn of the Information Age. TEBs are still raising families and/or caring for elderly parents, continue defying fads and are focusing on family values turned upside down by their divorce-ridden parents.
"The Baby Boomer generation is huge but made up of two completely different personalities," says Christine Stasiw, manager of consumer intelligence, Ford Global Consumer Insights. "John McCain is a leading-edge Baby Boomer; Madonna would have been a trailing-edge Boomer – this split personality presents very unique marketing challenges and opportunities."
Further analysis of family dynamics, however, highlights important similarities for auto marketers. Somewhat surprising is that 54 percent of both groups are caring for children, parents or both. While 40 percent of LEBs – those 55 and older – are technically empty nesters, only 27 percent actually live alone with their spouse.
The vehicles of choice for both groups are pickup trucks and SUVs, accounting for seven out of the top ten vehicles purchased by each group. Only one minivan makes the cut, sliding in mid-way on the younger Boomer shopping list – a dramatic shift for this group that defined "soccer moms."
"Pickups and SUVs are still 'in,' and growing, while minivans are 'out' across the board," says Stasiw. "Older Boomers buy vehicles suited more to their specific needs; younger Boomers buy vehicles for the family since they rarely go anywhere without the kids.
"We've been told younger Boomers are the 'Me Generation' but, until recently, that trend is quite the opposite when analyzing vehicle purchases."
As they age, older boomers plan to keep working past retirement age and won't even entertain the "senior" title until the age of 75. Even bolder, 20 percent of LEBs consider 90 as the beginning of old age. To help defy the aging process, older boomers are racing to the gym in droves as evidenced by their unbelievable 380 percent explosion in health-club memberships since 1987, according to a survey by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.
This health focus is balanced by America's growing waistline associated with an era of affluence, and more injuries beset by an aging population.
This trend stretches beyond the U.S. as, globally, there are more than 300 million obese adults. Half of all drivers are slowed by temporary injuries that affect their driving. Regardless of health, older drivers typically opt for vehicles that are painless to enter and exit, that don't remind them of aging symptoms and that are subtly packaged not to scream "GRUMPY'S car."
"Older Boomers are called 'WOOFs' (well-off older folks) and 'GRUMPIES' – they hate these terms," says Stasiw. "When you're designing vehicles that will be marketed to this group, you need to reinforce Boomer's zest for youth and avoid anything that reminds them of aging."