Verve shows Ford’s small-car vision

Verve shows Ford’s small-car vision

August 23, 2007

By SARAH A. WEBSTER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Ford Motor Co. gave its first hints of its future small-car design vision in the new Ford Verve Concept, photos of which were revealed today.

The bullet-shape concept is bold, sporty and in a design style that Ford calls “kinetic,” for the visual effect that makes the vehicle look like it’s in motion, even when standing still.

Martin Smith, executive director of design for Ford of Europe, which is leading Ford’s small-car development for major world markets, called the style “bold, even radical.”

The Verve, which will be revealed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, is the first of three subcompact concept vehicles that will debut in key regions: Europe, Asia and North America.

North America, in particular, has been longing for a subcompact, or so-called “B”-sized, car from Ford since gas prices soared to $3 a gallon in recent years. Ford left the ultra-efficient subcompact car segment in 1997, the last model year for the Ford Aspire, and hasn’t said when it’s coming to market with a replacement since then.

Subcompact cars are those smaller than compact cars, such as the Ford Focus and Honda Civic, and the category is still very small, accounting for a sliver of the 16 or so million cars and trucks sold in the United States each year.

But it’s growing fast. The market for those affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles — such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Kia Spectra and Chevrolet Aveo — has been booming in the increasingly gas- and green-conscious market.

Contact SARAH A. WEBSTER at 313-222-5394 or swebster@freepress.com.

So that’s Ford Europe’s new concept car that will give hints of the upcoming Fiesta. Based on the same platform as the Mazda2, the Ford Verve concept again shows off Ford Europe’s “Kinetic Design” that has graced Ford Europe models such as the Mondeo, S-Max, and an upcoming crossover. Although buyers outside of North America will get a new Fiesta that will more or less resemble what is shown on these images, the Americans will get a dumbed-down version of this subcompact that will have the bold styling and three-bar grille currently seen on the Ford Taurus and Ford Fusion.

All is great, but it would of been better to just import the Ford Europe cars with “Kinetic Design” and badge them as Mercuries while recycling some of the global platform used on other Fords on the American models. Ford Motor Company still doesn’t have a clue about what to make of Mercury other than positioning it as a car for female young professionals, but Alan Mulally was able to get the powers-that-be at Ford to have the next generation Focus and Fusion share its underpinnings with global platforms. However, these models will of course be dumbed-down and restyled with the three-bar grille since Americans apparently can’t handle “kinetic styling” and superb road performance.

According to autoblog:

Ford execs have said that these cars will wear different styling and be tuned differently, but we’ve heard from inside the Blue Oval that a conflict between U.S. and Euro designers is growing, with the former group upset that its delicate balance of three-bar grilles will be upset by the Fiesta, and possibly other models, arriving with FoE’s “Kinetic Design” theme.

And people wonder why Ford was bleeding cash all these years until recently…

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