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'Talented' and 'inspiring' former Ford car executive from Sunderland dies aged 52

Chris Svensson.
Chris Svensson.

A "talented designer" and "inspiring leader" who forged a glittering career with the the giant Ford Motor Company has died at the age of 52.

Chris Svensson was born and raised in Sunderland and undertook a foundation art course at the city's then polytechnic before joining the car company and occupying senior positions in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and Australia.

Having retired on July 1 as global design director, Mr Svensson died at the weekend following a battle with cancer.

A Ford Motor Company spokesman today said: “We are sad to learn of the passing of Ford design director Chris Svensson.

"Chris was a talented designer, an inspiring leader and a friend to many people. He made countless contributions to Ford during his 26-year career and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Mr Svensson, whose grandfather was Swedish, graduated from Coventry University’s vehicle design course in 1990 after leaving Sunderland Polytechnic.

He joined Ford as an exterior designer after earning a masters degree from Royal College of Art in London in 1992.

Mr Svensson later worked on various cars including the Ford Ka, Puma, Cougar, Fiesta, Focus, C-MAX, Mondeo, Falcon, Taurus and Mustang.

In 2010 he was appointed design director of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, where he oversaw the Asia Pacific Design Centre, in Melbourne, Australia, before becoming design director of the Americas in 2014.

"Through his drive and passion", he was also instrumental in the design of the 2017 Ford GT in what the company describes as "a great example of his talent and leadership".

Joe Woodhouse, programme leader for the foundation diploma in art and design at the University of Sunderland, said: “The university was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Chris and we would like to pass on our condolences to his family and loved-ones.

“We are very proud that Chris was part of the university family and we have followed his career with admiration. We are sure that future generations of our students will be inspired by his talents and many achievements.”

Mr Svensson is survived by his wife and two daughters.