Bangor, North Wales, Great Britain
Richard Parry-Jones FREng was Group Vice President-Global Product Development, Chief Technical Officer and Head of Global R&D Operations at Ford Motor Company until his retirement from Ford in December 2007. Parry-Jones directed the concurrent development of dozens of vehicles at Ford and significantly influenced vehicles including the 1993 Ford Mondeo, both the 1998 International Ford Focus and 2000 North American Ford Focus, the European 1981 Escort and 1983 Sierra, as well as the Ka, Fiesta, Puma, Cougar and Galaxy.
Parry-Jones oversaw product development for Ford vehicles worldwide, as well as design, research and vehicle technology. As Chief Technical Officer, he reported to the company's Board of Directors on technical matters, headed a technical staff of 30,000 engineers, scientists, designers and business professionals in North America, Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, including the Ford, Lincoln, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, and Aston Martin brands.
Parry-Jones was also responsible for product safety and environmental initiatives at Ford. This included follow-up work on the company's response to problems that arose through its use of Firestone tyres on Ford Explorer SUVs. Parry-Jones has described this as his most difficult time as an engineer. "I probably lost a half a stone over that period because it was just so intense. I learned a lot from that. Most of all I learned the power of really rigorous engineering analysis in saving lives.”
Parry-Jones has been noted for suggesting that "building a supercar is much easier than creating excellence for the millions." Edmunds.com called Parry-Jones a "driving dynamics guru" and Autocar called him "one of the world's leading automotive engineers."
Personal and professional history
Born in Bangor, North Wales, the descendant of a North Wales slate quarry worker Parry-Jones got the idea to become an automotive engineer after seeing the RAC Rally (now Rally GB) pass through the forest near his childhood home.
Parry-Jones joined Ford product development in 1969 as an undergraduate trainee, and was awarded a first class honors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Salford University, Manchester in 1973. He was appointed Manager of Small Car Programs in 1982 and was named Executive Engineer of Ford's Technological Research in Europe in 1985, before adding responsibility for Vehicle Concepts a year later.
Fluent in English and German, Parry-Jones's international experience includes an assignment as Director of Vehicle Concepts Engineering in the United States in 1988, before taking charge of Manufacturing Operations at Ford's Cologne, Germany, assembly plant in 1990. He retired from Ford in 2007, after 38 years with the company.
On retiring from Ford, Parry-Jones became involved on policy matters. He advised the Welsh Government on economic development, transport, energy and IT infrastructure. He also worked with central government, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), where he chaired the new Automotive Innovation and Growth Team and then the Automotive Council UK which supports the automotive industry in Britain.
In July 2012, Parry-Jones became the chairman of Network Rail. He is also non-executive director of GKN plc and Cosworth Group Holdings as well as being council member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and of Bangor University.
Parry-Jones is a rugby fan, having played as a schoolboy.
50 meter test
In developing automobile dynamics, Parry-Jones became well known for suggesting that a great deal could be learned about a vehicles dynamics within a simple 50 Meter Test. Rather than testing the vehicle at top speed, Parry-Jones insisted that engineers drive very slowly for 50 meters, sensing the subtleties of the vehicle's dynamics.—suggesting "an engineer could learn more from the 50-meter test than laps at the limits around the track."
Parry-Jones credits the racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart with influencing his approach to testing cars, saying "Jackie was tremendously helpful and influential with my approach. He’s not an engineer so he can’t fix cars, but he can extract information about a car’s behaviour in an uncannily detailed and superb way."
Parry-Jones has embraced environmental initiatives. In a 2000 speech to the Society of Automotive Engineers at The Greenbrier, Parry-Jones said, "What our society wants us to do is to invent the technology to make personal, private transportation sustainable. People expect engineers to do the right thing. It's as if we had taken some kind of Hippocratic oath. And our profession has been around nearly as long as medicine itself."
In 2001, he received the Golden Gear Award for Outstanding Automotive Achievement from the Washington Automotive Press Association, and was honored as Marketing Statesman of the Year by the Sales and Marketing Executives of Detroit.
In 2004 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in recognition of his pioneering work in the application of statistical methods to automobile engineering. Also in 2004, he was awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours List for services to the automobile industry.
In 2005 Parry-Jones received an Honorary Fellowship by his 'home' University of Wales in the North Wales town.
In 1995 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Loughborough University in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the motor industry and engineering education. He is also a Visiting Professor and Fellow at the university.
- "List of Fellows".
- "Q&A: Richard Parry-Jones, Ford Motor Company, Group Vice President - Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer". Autocar, 27 February 2005.
- "Uber-Engineer Richard Parry-Jones To Retire From Ford". Edmunds.com, 19 October 2007.
- "Ford's Parry-Jones Retires". Edmunds.com, Auto Observer, 19 October 2007.
- "Not The Retiring Type". Ingenia, September 2012.
- "2002 Best Small Car - Ford Focus". Automobile Magazine Online, 3 July 2002.
- "180mpg hatch by 2050". Autocar, 24 July 2008.
- "FORD'S PARRY-JONES MADE HONORARY FELLOW OF HIS HOME TOWN UNIVERSITY". Ford Press Release, 26 July 2005.
- "Richard Parry-Jones". Cranfield University, Honorary Graduate.
- "Speech at Coventry University".
- ">"Loughborough University staff - Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering Dept".