(from Ford Press
Release) SMALL, GREEN, AND FUN: FORD START CONCEPT A DESIGN
INSPIRATION FOR THE MEGA CITY BEIJING
For parts of the world
that are growing increasingly urban, the future of the automobile
looks small, green, smart and fun in the eyes of Ford designers who
created the Ford Start Concept. It’s a design vision inspired for
the transportation needs of the world’s mega cities.
Making its global debut at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show, the Ford
Start Concept is more than simply a design exploration into the
feasibility of a small car. It also demonstrates how Ford will
extend the promise of its EcoBoost engine technology story even
further – previewing a fuel-efficient petrol Ford EcoBoost engine
with just three cylinders and 1.0 litre of displacement, yet the
power of a larger, 1.6-litre I4 engine.
Start Concept was inspired in part by a growing global trend toward
mass urbanisation. The world’s top 20 mega-cities are home to
consumers whose needs, attitudes and expectations may have more in
common with mega-city dwellers in other nations than with their own
countrymen. While these consumers share the challenges of living in
an urban society, they also increasingly seek out product solutions
that bring the best the world has to offer.
These insights inspired Ford designers to envision a future sporty,
small-car package geared to their needs and urban mindset.
Today, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in an
urban area. By 2050, that number is expected to skyrocket to more
than 70 percent. Already, congested highways, space for parking,
concerns over fuel efficiency as well as the availability and price
of fuel are driving automakers to look at vehicles and personal
transportation more differently than ever before.
“Our ambition with the Ford Start Concept was to design a car that
transcends the practical realities of commuting in these mega cities
and goes beyond just dressing the technology. We wanted to design a
car you would also love,” explained Freeman Thomas, design director.
Living in the mega city poses unique challenges and inspires unique
lifestyles and attitudes. Just as traffic congestion issues are
common in these geographic areas, the answers to solve the issues of
a new generation of future small cars for these urban markets may
also be found in the Ford Start Concept.
“The team has delivered a concept car which reflects a decidedly
playful take on Ford kinetic design and builds on our fun-to-drive
DNA, yet addresses real issues that everyone will be facing in the
future of car design,” said Martin Smith, executive director, Ford
Europe and Asia Pacific Design.
As Ford has found with its global ONE Ford strategy, what was once a
regional or individual market issue, is now global. Across the
world, more consumers are confronting issues including “green”
technology, more efficient use of available space, recycling and
asking if big is necessarily better. It’s an attitude that unites
urbanites around the world.
Searching for efficient power, using lightweight materials that can
be recycled and optimising interior space with a small exterior
footprint are some of the challenges designers explored.
Could Ford deliver on these challenges, while also creating a
concept that would enhance Ford’s fun-to-drive DNA?
At the forefront, Ford has introduced some very real technology in
the Start Concept to address fuel efficiency, reduce the use raw of
materials and minimize carbon the footprint of a car.
Equipped with a powerful new Ford EcoBoost 1.0-litre three-cylinder
engine to maximise fuel efficiency and meet lower emission
standards, Ford’s latest concept car includes technology that is
class leading and will come into production in the near future. With
CO2 emissions of less that 100 g/km, the petrol engine has power and
drivability comparable to an I4 powerplant.
Ford Start Concept also introduces a MyFord Mobile Concept that
pairs with a smart phone to allow occupants to perform a multitude
of in-car functions, all wrapped in a Sub-B design concept that uses
lightweight material and aerodynamics.
“It may be small with a minimal amount of features but we haven’t
ignored the basics like delivering more “traditional” driving
characteristics including sporty handling, a simple analogue
interface and an interior that is pure and authentic like early
sport cars from the 1950s,” Thomas added.
“With the Ford Start
Concept, we didn’t set out to design some sort of utilitarian
appliance to save the world, nor were we interested in following the
competitive trend toward an overly noisy design language. What we
did set out to do was design a personality driven car that exudes
warmth, charm and aspiration…to design a car worth bonding with,”
said J Mays, group vice president Design and chief creative officer,
Ford Motor Company.
Crisp highlights are incorporated into a smooth exterior shell
constructed with lightweight composite body panels.
Ford’s trademark kinetic trapezoidal grill moves upward onto the
rounded, sleek form, reducing the number of prominent openings from
two to one and creating a face that’s both sporting and efficient.
The entire exterior surface of the Ford Start Concept has been
designed with flush-mounted aerodynamic features designed to cheat
the wind – providing a minimal amount of drag while achieving
maximum fuel efficiency.
Efficiency also is evident in the teardrop silhouette and ground
plan, in the full aerodynamic underbody and in the reduced cross
Flush, stamped aluminium wheels and a subtle fin on the roof, which
also houses the centre high mounted stop lamp, complete the
Slim, laser-cut LED headlamps provide high-intensity light through
trapezoid tubes. Two sets of running lamps, including a pair located
in the headlamp design and a pair of lower running lamps, provide
The long, thin upper headlamps sweep from the centre of the fascia
into the side of the fender. “digital pulse” turn indicators are
housed in the lower running lamp.
The innovative hybrid aluminium, high-strength steel body
construction features a lightweight aluminium safety cell that
provides a rigid attachment structure for the glass and roof, as
well as housing side curtain air bags. All exterior body panels are
made from deformable, pre-coloured recyclable composites.
The roof appears separated by glass from the overall body and
immediately evokes images of sleek, sporty hardtop designs while
providing full panoramic visibility for the driver.
As an added feature, the composite roof panel also is designed to
snap fit on the vehicle and could easily be removed and exchanged by
the owner as a customised accessory.
All glass is flush
mounted for minimal wind resistance, trimmed tightly with brushed
steel to accentuate the crisp lines included in the form of the
greenhouse. Visibility and driver safety are optimised by recessed
B-pillars and see-through C-pillars, plus a wraparound rear window
allowing for a 180-degree view.
Like the front fenders,
rear quarter panels have a minimal amount of overhang with just 629
millimetres from the rear wheel centre to rear bumper. Rear wheel
arches are pronounced and contribute to the overall solid stance of
the Ford Start Concept from every angle.
Mirroring the laser-cut front lamp treatment, the LED tail lamps
sweep into the decklid and are depressed into a pocket that cuts
into the body surface. Included in the rear lamps are integral turn
signals with a sequential feature that moves outward from the centre
of the lamps when the indicator is applied, providing a sweeping
The rear of the Ford Start Concept is equipped with a traditional
boot. The backlight is fixed.
A centre-mounted, cast aluminium tip is fitted to the exhaust pipe
to provide a finishing touch.
The flush, aerodynamic wheels designed for the Ford Start Concept
are pressed aluminium measuring 17-by-6.5 inches, fitted with
exclusively designed Michelin Green X 205/45R17 tyres. A unique
tread design combines to minimise noise, vibration and harshness (NVH)
while providing reduced rolling resistance for better fuel
To help minimise the aerodynamic inefficiencies found in various
pockets and intrusions under the car, the Ford Start Concept is
fitted with a full underbody belly pan. The one-piece pan provides
an effective solution to reducing drag from air flow passing under
the vehicle. Coarse road noise also is dampened.
The concept is based upon a chassis with a wheelbase that is 2300
millimetres and an overall length under 3700 millimetres. The width
is 1672 millimetres with height at approximately 1400 millimetres.
The minimalist approach
extends into the interior of Ford Start Concept with a simplistic,
twin cockpit, “tub” design that provides seating for up to four
occupants. The tub interior provides a unique appearance, higher
quality and reduced cost through its simplified, one piece
The instrument panel includes a pod-type cluster that easily
converts to both left- and right-hand drive versions.
The sweeping instrument panel and console are constructed with a
single modular trim piece that starts at the base of the windshield
and flows through the bottom of the centre console.
The five-speed manual transmission shift lever is centrally located
up high in the console. Window switches and the push button start
feature are located in the centre console and provide easy
accessibility for either right- or left-hand drivers.
Seats, while simple, have been ergonomically designed to provide
maximum comfort, personal flexibility and easy access to the rear. A
mono-rail seat pedestal allows fore and aft movement and allows for
access to the rear seats. Constructed with a composite shell to
reduce weight, moulded seat inserts are designed to snap into the
seat shell and are interchangeable to suit driver preference.
The rear seating area also is constructed with a one piece mould and
includes a removable seat insert.
Moulded rubber is used on the floor, consistent with the simplified
approach to the interior. The mat is durable and can be cleaned
Rails and pillars throughout the interior are constructed of
aluminium and fitted with side curtain airbags.
HMI – Human Machine Interface
Located at the top of
the console is a port to connect to the MyFord Mobile concept
technology, which provides a seamless driver interface conducive to
safe driving practices with personal handheld devices.
Without a smart phone, car-related functions including heating,
ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), engine diagnostics and
passenger airbag on/off function can be easily viewed and adjusted
while driving through either voice activation or toggle and scroll
controls located on the console. A wide, six-inch screen provides
As an added feature, when the driver inserts a smart phone in the
docking station when the vehicle is in motion, access is available
via the MyFord Mobile Concept to phone contacts and navigation tools
through voice activation, as are all messaging, direction and
If the smart phone device is docked and the vehicle is parked and
powered off, both the vehicle functions and icons from the user’s
device are available via the MyFord Mobile Concept. Icons are
displayed on the large screen through Bluetooth transfer. Car
functions and the speaker system also are controlled through voice
MyFord Mobile Concept restricts certain functions, such as texting,
To help owners keep up with the latest trends and developments in
personal electronics, the MyFord Mobile Concept is intended to be
flexible, and can be adapted to suit changing mobile phone
technology or driver preferences.
Ford Start is equipped
with Ford EcoBoost engine technology to maximise power and fuel
efficiency from a future production 1.0-litre, three-cylinder
Consistent with Ford’s long-range goals to provide more power though
sophisticated turbocharging and spark-ignited, direct-injection fuel
management systems, the petrol 1.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine
delivers power and torque comparable to a normally aspirated
1.6-litre I4 powerplant. It is expected to have CO2 emissions under
the 100 g/km threshold.
This engine is coupled with a five-speed manual transmission which
permits gear spacing to deliver performance without sacrificing fuel
economy. The transmission easily handles the higher torque levels of
the 1.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine and together with the sporty
handling of the Ford Start Concept, delivers the fun-to-drive
characteristics that are at the core of the Ford brand DNA.
Created by a global team of designers working at Ford’s Irvine
(Calif.) Strategic Concepts Group Studios, this sporty, futuristic
concept combines near-production Ford EcoBoost engine technology and
slick aerodynamics in an environmentally friendly package with
reduced greenhouse emissions, all wrapped in an exciting design.
“As a pure, bespoke concept, the Ford Start isn’t destined for
production, but of course we’re very interested in hearing how
customers in urban growth markets react to its design and features,”