DOYLE LETSON: CHIEF DESIGNER FOR 2011 FORD EDGE, COMFORTABLE WITH A PENCIL OR A MICROPHONE
2011 Ford Edge
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Doyle Letson, chief designer of the 2011 Ford Edge, came by sea to the automotive world. He had a successful career designing boats in Florida when a trip to the annual North American International Auto Show caused him to drop anchor in Dearborn, Mich.
“I came to the auto show with a co-worker, who was formerly at Ford, to look for concepts for our boats,” Letson recalled. “The moment I walked in the door, I fell in love with designing cars. It was like, ‘Wow. This is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.’”
Letson then gave himself a crash course, so to speak, on car design.
“I basically learned how to sketch cars on my own by trial and error, put together a portfolio and came to Detroit,” said Letson. He joined Ford in 1994 as a designer and steadily moved up through the ranks.
As chief designer for the 2011 Ford Edge, Letson’s role was to lead and assist his interior and exterior design teams as they developed the themes for the latest iteration of the popular luxury crossover.
“Starting with the exterior, the amount of change that we incorporated is phenomenal,” said Letson. “The 2011 Ford Edge very much has a sharp and strong presence. The enhancements made to the 2011 Ford Edge Sport, with its unique treatments to the lamps, wheels and body, further differentiate that model from the competition as well.”
The interiors on the 2011 Ford Edge are all new, incorporating new MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology in the instrument cluster, center stack and steering wheel. The new technology blends Ford signature in-vehicle features into a cohesive interior experience, facilitating intuitive control and personalization.
“Visually, this new technology makes a very modern statement in the interior. The exterior themes are translated into the interiors, and they complement them nicely,” added Letson. “Both the exterior and interior designs are harmonious and seamless, just as the 2011 Edge’s style and technology are cohesively blended.”
From sketching to singing
When Letson moved to Michigan, he found not only his calling in terms of a career but also reconnected with a passion from the past: singing in a band.
“Singing was something I did a long time ago – in college and after college. I sang in a band for almost 10 years,” said Letson.
Letson put down the microphone to raise his family but the urge to perform eventually resurfaced. Two years ago, Letson decided to audition for some local bands, and he quickly landed with a group named Homebrewed.
“It’s a great bunch of guys,” Letson said. “Like me, they all have careers and play music on the side. Our original goal was to play maybe one show a month, but it’s grown to double or even triple that amount.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Letson has been married to his wife Grete for 25 years. They have two daughters, Laura, a senior at the University of Michigan, and Sarah, a senior at Novi High School. They live in Novi, Mich.
- Letson has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Purdue University. “The program at Purdue integrated engineering students with the design students. And that’s pretty much real life in the automotive industry. It gave me early exposure to the other mind-set that’s more analytical, as opposed to the visual side of things,” he says
- Before joining Ford in 1994, Letson designed furniture, consumer products, heavy industrial equipment and high-performance boats. “Anything from a 16-foot runabout to a 65-foot motor yacht,” he says
- His first vehicle was a 1956 Ford pickup. Its whereabouts are unknown. “But knowing it’s a Ford truck, it’s probably still running around somewhere,” he says
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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 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
Aug. 16, 2010