Volvo’s Vice President of Design is no stranger to the worlds of American and Swedish car design, but the man most famous for the Volvo S80 is taking his talents somewhere else: Volvo’s Chinese steward, Geely Automotive Holdings.
Geely made the announcement yesterday, and followed it up with a bit more explanation today. Horbury will become the senior vice president of design for the Geely Group. For the time being, he will apparently work from the Hainan University Sanya College, but will ultimately help the company establish a bespoke design center of its own.
If Horbury’s past is any indication, Geely should benefit greatly from the new personnel change: Horbury’s stint at Volvo between 1991 and 2002 coincided with a major design renaissance for the company. Horbury’s most famous work is probably the Environmental Concept Car of 1992, which took a serious step away from the boxy styling of earlier Volvos and added a characteristic set of shoulders below the windows. The ECC eventually became the S80, which has maintained some of the ECC’s design characteristics ever since.
Horbury named Executive Director of Design for Ford Motor Company in 2004, meaning he presided over designs for the late Premier Automotive Group, which once included Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo. While working for PAG and Ford, Horbury assisted in Ford’s shift in design that resulted in models with bolder styling, like the 2006 Ford Fusion, 2008 Ford Taurus, and the 2011 Lincoln MKX.
Horbury’s last public work for Volvo was a slate of two concept cars: the Concept Universe from the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, and the 2011 Concept You from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Both preview the future of upmarket Volvos like the S80.
Geely has openly talked of selling its wares in the United States, so it should be interesting to see if Horbury’s work will again make its way to our shores.
Sources: Volvo, Reuters