At the Geneva Motor Show, Ford will be unveiling its all-new B-MAX.
The B-Max essentially is like a baby shrunken C-Max but with all the latest Ford additions, and replaces the Fusion in Europe after the poor sales figures of that particular model. And this mini-MPV is what Ford are betting that Europeans will need when it launches in September 2012.
And what is the selling point of this mini-marvel?
Ford has unveiled a unique door system that “brings unrivalled ease-of-access” to the B-MAX.
The snappily named ‘Ford’s Easy Access Door System’ integrates the central body pillars into the doors to create 1.5-metre wide unobstructed openings on either side of the car and apparently reduce everyday motoring stress. I should imagine this is a real bonus in a car park – certainly in Tescos on a Saturday morning.
Rather geekily, Stefan Lamm, exterior design director, Ford of Europe, said “Door systems like this have been a designer’s dream for many years. We have taken the concept from an idea on a designer’s sketch pad, to a stylish and versatile product on the showroom floor.”
“We set ourselves the challenge of re-imagining the small car,” he added. “People are struggling with the spatial challenges of city driving and we wanted to find a new solution.”
According to Ford, a team spent days watching drivers in their daily routine to understand exactly what customers really wanted in a compact car, before passing the information on to a team of engineers.
They moved the high-strength body-structure from the central body pillars and integrated it directly into the doors, using ultra-high-strength steels, 5 times the strength of normal door steel, to ensure excellent crash protection, especially in the event of a side impact.
But good news for competitors in Britain’s Strongest Man; they’ve not added any extra weight – just made it stiffer and stronger.
They then did a stackload of computer simulation lasting a thousand days before sticking a crash test dummy in 50 times to check and test. All to make sure that the doors were safe from side impact crashes as well as operable in general.
We engineered the body to keep all the benefits of the new door concept, while making the structure strong, stiff and light,” said Darren Palmer, Product Development Quality Director, Ford of Europe. “Creating a strong, stable body is great for handling.”
The benefits of these doors?
“The door concept means you can load really large items, more than 2.3 meters long, through the side doors,” said Ernst Reim, Chief Interior Designer, Ford of Europe. “This makes a trip to the furniture store, or even a day at the beach with your surfboard, more realistic.” Not in Blackpool it doesn’t!
It gives excellent and allegedly unrivalled access for passengers and luggage (including a surfboard if you have one) and getting children in and out when in tight spaces is “an absolute breeze.”
Inside, after you’ve had hours of fun with the doors and your surfboard, the rear seats and the front passenger seat can be folded flat to create a large, convenient load platform, to accommodate everything from bicycles to flat-pack furniture.
And did I mention that the rear doors slide open too? Did I not? Slapped wrist for me! More doors technology/
Still, fans of sliding doors will love it.
I wonder if Gwyneth Paltrow will be in the ad?