FORD VERVE CONCEPT HINTS AT FORD'S FUTURE SMALL-CAR DESIGN VISION
Ford Verve Concept – a bold and colourful concept car to be revealed at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show – gives the first hints of Ford's future small-car design vision.
The significance of the Ford Verve Concept is that it's the first physical evidence of the design direction for an all-new small Ford since it was announced earlier this year that the European arm of the company's global Product Development group is taking the design and engineering lead in creating a new small-car portfolio for major world markets. The Ford Verve Concept is the first of three concept vehicles which will debut in key regions – Europe, Asia and North America.
'Ford Verve Concept is presented here in Frankfurt as a bespoke concept car to generate reactions while our production plans are taking shape,' said John Fleming, President and CEO of Ford of Europe. 'Our Design team took an unrestrained approach to how our future small cars could look, and this eye-catching concept was one of the results. If we get the reaction we expect, I'm certain that the team will incorporate elements of this advanced design vision into our final production design. This will make the next generation of small cars from Ford very compelling indeed.'
'Ford Verve Concept is clearly our most expressive form language yet,' said Martin Smith, Executive Director of Design for Ford of Europe. 'Bold, even radical, it demonstrates the dynamic possibilities for expressing Ford's kinetic design philosophy in a small car that is a chic, modern and individualistic statement for a sophisticated, fashion-aware generation.'
Finished in rich colours and distinctive materials inspired by the world of fashion and cosmetics, the Ford Verve Concept was created by a team of designers from Ford's studios in Dunton, England, and Cologne, Germany. A bold expression
Building on the kinetic design momentum of Ford's recent iosis and iosis X concept cars, and the more premium feel of production models like the new Ford Mondeo, the Ford Verve Concept is a bold expression of a small-car vision.
Martin Smith uses expressions like 'precision sculpted', 'agile muscularity' and 'toned athleticism' to describe the full surfaces of its body shape, which are complemented by a sleek roofline and B-pillarless structure that lend an elegant, coupe-like feel of sophistication.
Its colour – a deep magenta red encapsulated in a tinted clearcoat for an even deeper glow – is a daring declaration of individualism and exclusivity.
'We wanted to make a bold statement about our vision for Ford small cars of the future,' said Stefan Lamm, Chief Exterior Designer, Ford of Europe. 'Ford Verve Concept symbolises our ambition to be a leader in small car design and create individual cars for individual customers, just as we have with the S-MAX and new Mondeo.'
Given a wide degree of freedom to create the concept, the design team, including lead exterior designer Chris Hamilton, grounded their efforts in reality. Ford Verve Concept was created with an eye toward production feasibility. Style and Energy in Motion
The concept's face is bold and sporty, yet friendly and engaging. The front of the vehicle is dominated by a large, inverted trapezoidal lower grille and a large Ford oval badge centred in the compact upper grille opening.
The lower grille features strong horizontal blades punctuated by a regular array of ‘bullet' shapes that combine to create the visual effect of corresponding vertical bars. The lower grille and badge treatment are the Design team's intended signature elements to communicate the Ford design DNA in future products.
The bonnet shape is sculpted dynamically – toned and athletic but not overtly muscular. This feeling combines with the more pronounced, rearward-stretching headlamp units – inspired by Mondeo – to give the face of the Ford Verve Concept a friendly, open and inviting personality. The prominent headlamps feature two projector beams and a light-emitting diode (LED) array.
From the side view, the concept has the purposeful, cab-forward look of energy in motion. The profile is emphasised by the pillarless side window shape, the upper contour of which mirrors the body's curving upper contour line. This extends rearward from the angular A-pillar to marry the sculpted, semi-high-mounted, LED tail lamps – themselves sculpted to become part of the fullness of the body shape – and the car's integrated tailgate spoiler. These elements blend cohesively together and support the vehicle's panoramic glass roof.
A bodyside belt line adds to the dramatic array of shapes that lend a feeling of controlled tension. The wheel arches also communicate tension and muscularity – another signature of kinetic design.
At the rear, the lower diffuser with integrated centre exhaust outlet are central elements of a cohesive design that incorporates the encapsulated rear bumper and design accessories, like brushed aluminium accents on the lower edges of the fog lamps. The lower diffuser is formed of dark chrome, which provides a muted contrast with the deep magenta body colour to create a controlled expression of tension and suspense.
The 18-inch, 12-spoke, two-piece alloy wheel design lends even more drama to the car. The wheel design is light and airy, with a feeling of depth and ‘three dimensionality' that draws the eye to the base of the spokes. Ford Verve Concept's low-profile tyres each feature a sidewall stripe that complements the rich body colour.
Other accents on the vehicle – evoking the way in which carefully selected accessories can complement fashions – include a subtle chrome bar in the door handles and similar use of brushed aluminium on the lower grille surround, the rear number plate surround and on the lower edge of the front fog lamps.
These combine subtly to signal a higher level of premium quality than that typically found in small cars.
'With a small car, for example a B segment car compared with a larger car, we believe we can play up – or amplify – key elements of the kinetic design form language,' Lamm §äid. 'It's not just a matter of copy-and-paste from one vehicle segment to another but rather how to interpret the philosophy for each individual car. You can clearly see this when you compare the larger iosis concept, the iosis X crossover and this new project.' Exploring the Inner Kinetic
The Ford Verve Concept is as dramatic on the inside as its exterior. From its boldly shaped surfaces and courageous use of rich colours and irresistible materials, the car has a playful sense of sophistication and fashion. It also pioneers new technologies that someday could be a production reality.
As Ford designers explored the possibilities for a future Ford small car, the wide latitude they were given helped them focus on applying the tenets of kinetic design to the interior of the new concept. As a result, the Ford Verve Concept repudiates tradition, especially in the architecture of the instrument panel, whose sensuous curves and full shapes make a typical, upright centre stack design seem distinctly old fashioned.
'This is a quantum leap in bringing kinetic design into interior design,' said Niko Vidakovic, Chief Interior Designer, Ford of Europe. 'This type of visual innovation, linking the form language of the interior so strongly with the exterior, is something we believe no other company is doing.'
Pronounced sculpting characterises the upper instrument panel, created by the hands of Ford interior designer Tiago Diaz and supervisor Ernst Reim. Full surfaces and flowing contours on interior elements – especially the instrument panel and door panels – reflect the kinetic design elements on the exterior of the vehicle. These elements combine to create an enveloping feeling for the vehicle's occupants, contrasting the airiness provided by the panoramic glass roof. New Aesthetic Inspired by Mobile Phones
The Ford Verve Concept was designed for the generation that grew up with mobile phones.
A predominant feature of the interior is the centre stack of the instrument panel. Aesthetically, it follows the curves and contours of the instrument panel shape, soaring up with an eye-pleasing winged effect to frame a large-screen, colour Ford Convers+ system incorporated in the upper dash. The Ford Convers+ system incorporated in the concept is the latest-generation Human Machine Interface (HMI) recently introduced in the Ford Mondeo. This alone indicates the level of sophistication incorporated in the Ford Verve Concept small-car vision.
Functionally, a key element of the centre stack design is the decoupling of the traditional elements of the entertainment system – the screen, control elements and the electronics. Separating these elements allowed designers to place controls and buttons for optimal ergonomic positioning in a design that resembles the logic of a mobile phone.
This new approach means that the Ford Verve Concept introduces a completely new aesthetic – a new approach to the form and function of interacting with underlying technologies. The unique architecture also embraces other key systems, including navigation and in-car phone controls.
Every button and switch was crafted with the kind of minute attention to detail that characterises good mobile phone designs. This system philosophy gives the Ford Verve Concept instrument panel centre stack a different feel than that of traditional automotive switchgear.
'A new generation of buyers raised with mobile electronic devices would feel right at home in this new automotive interior, one that exceeds the standards typical in the small-car segment,' said Vidakovic.
The concept's heating/ventilation controls, highlighted in a lozenge shape at the midpoint of the centre stack, feature large twist dials which were inspired by the sculpture found in high quality power showers.
The centre stack structure flows into a centre console, which provides stowage areas, including a tray for a mobile phone or MP3 player as well as a large bin for a purse or shoulder bag near the handbrake.
'The centre stack is like the art gallery of the car,' Vidakovic §äid. 'The combination of the sculpture of the upper instrument panel, the rich interior colours and materials and the jewellery-like brightwork is very distinctive.'
The primary gauges – speedometer and rev counter – are uniquely framed by binocular-shaped, short tunnels of brightwork which complement the centre stack and contrast the rich interior colours like a fashion accessory.
Ford Verve Concept's steering wheel is another work of sculpture. Its crash pad, sculpted of soft-feel material and framed in brightwork, provides a rich tactile and visual centrepiece for the Ford oval badge. The left and right spokes of the three-spoke design incorporate the toggle controls for the HMI system. Rich, Harmonious Colours
From the instrument panel to the seats, the Ford Verve Concept is trimmed elegantly in a harmonious blend of magentas. Materials were inspired by the exclusive fabrics and leathers of haute couture, according to Ruth Pauli, Chief Designer, Colours and Trims, Ford of Europe.
'Colour plays an important role in emotionalising our products,' Pauli §äid. 'With Ford Verve Concept, we are striving for a very precise expression of a certain style. Expressive colours in the right harmonies and contrasts. Soft yet intense. Good materials like glove-leather that's beautiful to touch. These details are helping us bring a feeling of premiumness into the volume small car world.'
The harmonies and contrasts of the concept are distinctive. The portfolio of materials used by Pauli, colour and trim specialist Úlrike Dahm and other members of the Ford Design Europe team include:
• Deep burgundy leather for the upper instrument panel, contrasted in the lower area by a slightly green-hued black leather
• The seats are covered in deep burgundy leather trimmed with electric magenta piping
Small elements of the interior – even control stalks on the steering column – reflect an attention to detail from the team inspired by the packaging of luxury cosmetics, which often incorporate sophisticated, expensive-looking details to convey brand appeal. Such small packaging requires the precise execution of every detail and the right expression, tonal quality and saturation of colours.
'Together, these elements combine to create a strong statement of consistency, harmony and quality that makes the Ford Verve Concept such a cohesive design statement,' Pauli §äid. 'It is this cohesiveness that will make this concept appeal to a modern, fashion-aware audience.'Gauging Public Reaction in Frankfurt
As product development of a new generation of Ford small cars continues behind the scenes, Ford of Europe is hoping to gauge public reaction to the Ford Verve Concept during the Frankfurt Motor Show.
European design chief Martin Smith said this and other opportunities in the near future for public feedback will be important drivers of the ultimate Ford small-car design direction.
'The Ford Verve Concept is a dynamic first public expression directionally of some of the thinking that will be contributing to the design DNA of our next-generation products. At this stage, we have had the freedom to be radically innovative, but I'm confident about the realistic possibilities for kinetic design to embrace this segment of vehicles.'Source - Ford
FORD REVEALS SMALL-CAR VISION FOR NORTH AMERICA
• New Ford Verve small car concept showcases the style, technology, premium materials and more substantial content that will set it apart from other offerings when Ford's new small cars go on sale in North America in 2010.
• Four-door Verve is designed to appeal to 'Millennials,' the fastest-growing segment of the population, as well as their parents – with sophisticated technology and expressive design demanded by globally savvy customers.
• A European three-door Verve concept also is being displayed at the North American International Auto Show to test North American reaction to an alternative bodystyle.
• In the Ú.S., small-car sales are predicted to increase by more than 25 percent through 2012. Small cars and crossovers are the only vehicles with projected near-term growth in the Ú.S.
Ford Motor Company is revealing the Verve, a concept vehicle that makes clear the vision for the new small cars Ford soon will introduce in North America.
The Verve is bold and sophisticated – to help it clearly stand out from other small cars on the road. Ford is building on decades of small car leadership in Europe as it develops new small cars for North America to appeal to increasingly savvy customers who value technology, design and fuel efficiency.
Both four- and three-door Verve body styles are being unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, as curtain-raisers to a new global family of small cars set to debut in Europe and Asia beginning later this year and in North America in 2010. The four-door is the basis for the production vehicle that will be sold in North America. The European three-door is being shown to test market reaction to the bodystyle – as a possible additional small car for the North American market.
The Verve concept has been developed with Ford's new global product development strategy that better leverages the company's global strengths. Globally, Ford is building on its European small-car expertise to stake a bigger claim in this critically important segment. Ford's celebrated small car lineup in Europe includes such top-sellers as the Ford Focus, Fiesta and Ka.
'We're looking at every aspect of what's defined Ford as a small-car leader in Europe and working to build on this expertise in driving dynamics and design across a global family of Ford cars that are as exciting to drive as they are to look at,' said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president, Global Product Development.
'The Verve concept family provides a vision for a new world standard for quality, design and comfort in the small car segment,' Kuzak added. 'These concepts demonstrate how leveraging our global strengths can yield attractive benefits for our customers in markets around the world.'
Those benefits include a bold, modern, design along with sophisticated electronics, premium materials, surprising functional space and a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine – all previously unseen in this segment.Small Car Popularity Skyrockets in North America
Momentum in small-car sales is outpacing overall industry growth worldwide. Globally, small car sales have grown from 23 million units in 2002 to an estimated 38 million in 2012. That's nearly 45 percent of the total expected 85-million unit industry, a level never before achieved. In the Ú.S., sales of small cars likely will grow by 800,000, or 25 percent – to a record 3.4 million units by 2012.
In fact, small cars and crossovers are the only vehicles with projected near-term growth in the Ú.S.
Driving the growth in the Ú.S. market is a group of young people aged 13 to 28 years – dubbed 'Millennials.' Today, this group stands 1.7 billion strong worldwide and will represent 28 percent of the total Ú.S. population by 2010.
As a group, Millennials embrace eco-friendliness, stay in constant touch using modern technology and demand best-in-class products from around the world. This group will grow from representing 19 percent of the driving public in 2004 to amassing 28 percent in 2010.
Every day, 11,000 Millennials in the Ú.S. come of driving age. When it's time to buy their first car, nearly half of this group shops the small-car segment.
'Millennials will be the defining group of customers in the future, driving all types of consumer trends,' said Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president, Marketing and Communications. 'Ford's European-based cars are a great fit for this generation of drivers, who have grown up with the Internet and mobile phones as necessities, not luxuries – believing that bigger isn't necessarily better, precision is everything and technology rules.' Verve Redefines Small-Car Segment
The Verve concept demonstrates that largesse is no longer the price of admission for a delivering a premium driving experience.
'The Ford global design team remembered, not so fondly, the econo-boxes of the 1970s and created the Verve concept as a vision of just how good a small car can be,' said J Mays, Ford's group vice president of Design and chief creative officer. 'Verve aims to ‘right' North American buyers' earlier small-car experiences by offering a product that changes customers' views of small cars from ‘cheap' to chic – and from affordable to desirable.'
The Verve concept is built off of a design architecture flexible enough to yield three distinctive vehicles that are each recognizably Ford. The flexible design architecture also allows Ford to adapt quickly to rapidly changing customer tastes and will help the company enter new markets utilizing regionally tailored products off of a common platform.
The North American Verve sedan, painted in Rouge Red, has been modified slightly from its European and Asian counterparts – most notably in its front fascia.
Designers created a bold, three-bar graphic with a Ford blue oval in the upper grille opening and downsized the lower, inverted trapezoidal grille. Two unique LED side markers flank the front fascia.
What carries through all three global concepts are Verve's sophisticated design language and its inspiration: A modern world of fashion and cosmetics, echoed in the Verve's rich colors and distinctive, high quality materials.
The hood sculpture is toned and athletic but not overtly muscular. This form language combines with the more pronounced, rearward-stretching headlamps to give the face of the Ford Verve concept a friendly, open and inviting personality. The prominent headlamps feature two projector beams and a light-emitting diode (LED) array.
From the side view, the concept looks energetic and purposeful. Its profile is emphasized by the pillarless side window shape and the upper contour that mirrors the body's curving upper contour line.
This extends rearward from the angular A-pillar to marry the sculpted, semi-high-mounted, LED tail lamps sculpted to become part of the fullness of the body shape. These elements blend cohesively together and support the vehicle's panoramic glass roof.
The 18-inch, 12-spoke, two-piece alloy wheel design lends even more drama to the car, punctuated with a subtle sidewall stripe that complements the rich body color.
Other accents on the vehicle include a discreet chrome bar in the door handles and similar use of brushed aluminum on the lower grille surround, the rear license plate surround and on the lower edge of the front fog lamps. Technologically Inspired
Verve's unique architecture embraces key electronic systems such as navigation, a dynamic sound system and in-car phone controls. Aesthetically, the Verve interior follows the curves and contours of the instrument panel shape.
Functionally, the center stack design decouples traditional elements of the entertainment system – the screen, control elements and the electronics. Separating these features allowed designers to position controls for optimal ergonomic positioning in a design that resembles the logic of a mobile phone.
The center console includes a tray for a mobile phone or MP3 player as well as a large bin for a purse near the handbrake. The center stack is a unique combination of sculpture, colors, materials and jewelry-like brightwork.
The concept's climate controls, highlighted in a lozenge shape at the midpoint of the center stack, feature large twist dials that were inspired by the sculpture found in high-quality power showers.
The primary gauges – speedometer and tachometer – are uniquely framed by binocular-shaped, short tunnels of brightwork that complement the center stack and contrast the rich interior colors like a fashion accessory.
Ford Verve concept's steering wheel is another work of sculpture. Its center section, sculpted of soft-feel material and framed in brightwork, provides a rich tactile and visual centerpiece for the Ford oval.
'Customers in this segment demand the best,' says Mays. 'While young in age, they are sophisticated, globally connected and demand the best the world has to offer, be it consumer electronics, fashion or automobiles. The Verve concept shows people that when it comes to style and sophistication, Ford can compete – and even outshine – the best in the business.'Ford: European Small-Car Know-How
Driven by a new global product development system that leverages Ford's global strengths, Ford designers in Dunton, England, and Cologne, Germany, developed the common small-car platform based on the converging tastes of global consumers.
Ford maintains small-car leadership in Europe with vehicles set apart by their world-class driving dynamics and dynamic designs.
With more than five million vehicles produced in Europe since it was launched in 1998, the Ford Focus is one of the only vehicles in the world to be named 'Car of the Year' both in Europe and in North America. It is Ford's perennial top seller in Europe and, in 2007, was Europe's top-selling car in its class.
The Ford Fiesta – which is smaller than the Focus – debuted in 1976, and it has sold more than 12 million units in Europe.
The iconic Ford Ka redefined the small city car sector in Europe with its eye-catching and enduring design and fun-to-drive character when it was introduced more than 11 years ago. Sales remain strong – with more than 1 million cars sold.
The European Ford Fusion – introduced in 2002 – increased its sales by approximately 19 percent in 2007 versus the previous year and remains in the European top three sellers in its segment.
'We're known in Europe for uniquely executed small cars, and this is the perfect time to bring this expertise to buyers in North America,' Kuzak §äid.Source - Ford