Jost Capito, 50, moved from Europe to Dearborn in January to head up a new division that will create high-performance road cars from Ford’s new global range of cars. Capito is best known for fathering the Focus RS, but he has also run Ford’s European motorsport operation, and before joining Ford he ran Sauber F1. Capito cut his teeth as a race engineer on BMW’s all-conquering M3 touring cars in the late 1980s. He granted Autocar his first British interview in his new job.
Tell us about the new job…
I am responsible for creating performance road cars based on the next range of global road car platforms being created under the ‘One Ford’ banner. Motorsport is the responsibility of other people — Mark Deans in Europe and Brian Wolfe in the US — although I am working with them to see what road car spin-offs we can create. And I’m attending a lot of motorsport in the US.
How will the department be organised?
We will keep the Team RS and SVT [Special Vehicles Team] operations on both sides of the Atlantic and I will be based in Detroit. Team RS includes the ST models. But the business side of the new job is vital, so I need to be close to the decision makers in the US. I have around 100 people working full time. Then when we need to work on a car programme we borrow engineers from functional groups.
Is that how the Focus RS programme worked?
Yes. For example, when we decided to design new bodywork to cover the RS’s wider rear track, we approached the Focus body engineers to design it. There was no point starting from scratch when there’s already somebody with the expertise.
What are your plans for global performance cars?
I can’t tell you the specific models, because we’re still working on that right now, although we have some good ideas. I’ve just been in the job a few months and we’re in the planning stage. But we will keep specific North American and European performance models, as well as developing new global performance versions of production cars that will be engineered for sale everywhere in the world.