Snappy Ford concept vehicle to set direction for future

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(Courtesy of The Detroit News)

Ford Ethos Concept

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday released the first pictures of the new face and future look of the Ford brand with the sleek and edgy Ford Evos Concept, a plug-in hybrid with four gullwing doors.

The doors won’t make it into production, but many design cues of the Evos, which makes its global debut next month at the Frankfurt auto show, will be on new cars and crossovers starting next year.

The Evos represents the direction that the Ford brand’s global design will take over the next five years, said J Mays, Ford group vice president in charge of design and chief creative officer.

The next-generation Ford Fusion, with Evos elements, will debut in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

This is Ford’s first global design direction change since Alan Mulally took over as CEO in 2007 and mandated the “One Ford” product strategy, designing and engineering vehicles for sale all over the world.

“One Ford completely simplified my life,” said Mays. “We design one car for the whole world. Designers can put more time into the details.”

The Evos fastback is a fanciful concept the length of a Focus and width of a European midsize car. The four gullwing doors “make a nice piece of theater,” Mays said, and show off the four seats inside, including a red driver’s seat.

The Evos name stands for the “Evolution” to the third generation of kinetic design, said Mays.

Kinetic design, meant to suggest energy in motion, dates back to the Iosis concept at the 2006 Frankfurt auto show that set the tone for a generation of Ford of Europe vehicles, including the Mondeo and Fiesta. The cars had a large lower trapezoidal grille that also made it to the Taurus.

Mays, Martin Smith, executive design director for Ford of Europe, and Moray Callum, executive director for North American design, started work on Ford’s new look three years ago. Smith’s team in Cologne, Germany, designed the Evos which was built in Torino, Italy.

Future cars will have lower, sleeker and more aerodynamic lines.

The new face of the brand has smaller headlights.

“Headlamps have become absurd,” Mays said, becoming more decoration than utility across the industry and oversized to the edge of cartoonish.

“We are going away from that, back to laser-cut headlamps that are functional and smaller. We want to be identified by the proportions of our lamps.”

Mays said Ford will “do laser-cut lamps, then everyone else will and we’ll go on to something else.”

In the same spirit, the two main grille openings are replaced with a single, smaller and more efficient air opening positioned higher on the front of the car for greater stature. The new Focus ST and Focus Electric, which go on sale next year, are among the first Fords to go in this direction.

Another example of evolution is the Blue Oval, which has grown in size over the years to 14 inches on the F-250 pickup.

“It’s time to reset,” Mays said. Going forward, look for the oval to be an extra design element, like exquisite jewelry.

The show car has cloud connectivity to ensure the owner remains tethered to the outside world through his or her smartphone, and the seat monitors the driver’s stress levels.

“The possibilities are fascinating when we explore how to enable a seamless lifestyle between home, office and car,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer.

“The car gets to know you and can act as a personal assistant to handle some of the usual routines of the daily commute,” such as automatically closing the garage door, he said.

The new global DNA provides a framework to design the next generation of vehicles as easily identifiable as new Fords, but they will not be identical, Callum said.

Analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor said the edgy new design could prove polarizing at a time when the top-selling cars in the U.S. have a more bland, mass market appeal. The new Toyota Camry chose this approach, he noted.

“The danger is alienating buyers who want an ordinary-looking car that is not over-styled,” Sullivan said.

But Mays makes no apologies.

“We’re going to Frankfurt to seduce people,” Mays said.


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