Friday, March 4, 2011

B to the Max

Ford unveils its Fiesta sized people mover at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
To B or not to B
Even as Americans are beginning to get used to more people movers the size of the Mazda5 and Ford prepares to roll out its compact C-Max, Ford of Europe is preparing to downsize the type even further as it unveiled the 2012 Ford B-Max earlier this week in Geneva.
Based on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, the B-Max is a scant 4.3 inches longer overall that a Fiesta 5-door and over a foot shorter than the new C-Max. This mini-minivan also benefits from what Ford calls “integrated B-pillar construction” – which in layman’s terms means that it has no traditional B pillar.
Versatility with a capital ‘B’
The absence of a B pillar means that when the regular front and rear sliding doors are opened, an aperture is created that is over 5 feet in width, making it much easier for occupants to enter and exit the vehicle as well as load up such bulky items as bicycles and even large electronics. The rear seat folds in a 60/40 split and with the front passenger seat folded as well, the B-Max is able to handle items up to 8 feet 7 inches long.
With the B-MAX we set out to create a vehicle that captures the spirit of a smaller S-MAX,” said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe’s executive design director. “We wanted to show that a small car could be very spacious and practical inside, while still having the sleek, dynamic appearance that has made the S-MAX so popular.
B van minus B pillar
To compensate for the absence of a traditional B pillar, Ford engineers set about significantly strengthening the structure of both front and rear doors using ultra-high-strength Boron steel in key load-bearing areas. This allows the door frames, with the doors closed, to work together as a “virtual B pillar.”
In addition to strengthening the doors, unique safety interlocks and reinforced latch mechanisms, working with other structural enhancements to the B-Max’s bodyshell, also ensure that both doors remain fixed to both the roof and floor structures during impact while working together to protect occupants.
B(y) design
Even without any badges, the new B-Max couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than a Ford. Smith’s kinetic design philosophy translates well to the company’s smallest MAV (multi-activity vehicle). A sculpted body helps to avoid the slab-sided look of many vehicles of this type, while wraparound rear glass and narrow tail lamps give it a look reminiscent of its bigger C-Max brother.
Inside, there’s a spacious feeling missing from the Fiesta, no doubt due to a combination of the B-Max’s panoramic glass roof and its additional 4.3 inches of height.  Occupants are also treated to a six-inch touch screen in the center of the upper instrument panel.
Taking the ‘B’ (power)train
The B-Max is powered by the latest addition to Ford’s EcoBoost family, a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder featuring direct injection, turbocharging and twin independent variable cam timing – an engine that is still undergoing final development prior to its production launch, thus the lack of further specifications at this time.
“The B-MAX demonstrates Ford’s commitment to providing customers with exciting and innovative vehicles,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.. “We believe that the new concepts and technologies it showcases will have a major impact on the small car market.”
No word yet on whether Ford has any plans of marketing it over here.



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