Ford Start Concept busts out of Beijing

Staff - CAP staff
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Microcars were all the rage in the 50s and early 60s and have been popular in Asia for the last couple of decades, but other than the smart car there really hasn't been any players in our market for a very long time. 

This will change soon with the introduction of Fiat's 500 and Scion's iQ, and while Ford's Start Concept was introduced in Beijing, the reach of a production version could be global if the automaker saw interest. 

The Start, conspicuously close to Smart, is more than a mere styling concept designed to wow audiences and build brand image.  Yes, it should build brand image, but more so amongst those interested in greener issues than those impressed by its sleek lines and candy apple red paint. 

The idea is to build a small, affordable commuter car by using fewer raw materials, and therefore make less of an impact on the environment.  There are still the usual concerns of safety and adequate performance, so the body structure is manufactured from aluminum and high-strength steel for rigidity and lightness, answering both questions.  Body panels, on the other hand, are constructed of lightweight recyclable composites that don't need painting as their colours have already been added prior to extrusion. 

Power comes from Ford's ultra-efficient EcoBoost family, although this one is a newborn and similarly tiny.  Its displacement measures 1,000 cubic centimeters and comes equipped with a turbocharger and direct-injection, and while Ford has declined to rate it in the usual fashion it's likely to achieve more than 100 horsepower.  What's more important is that fuel economy should be stellar and CO2 emissions also extremely low, hopefully less than 100 grams per kilometer. 

Say what you want about the styling, but it's not overdone.  Clean, minimalist lines cheat the wind in their quest for ultimate aerodynamics, not to mention the idea is an affordable small car and simpler shapes are easier and therefore cheaper to manufacture. 

The Start gets a simple and straightforward interior too, and hidden within is the new MyFord Mobile.  The new version of Ford's impressive connectivity system relies on a smart phone to provide the network-wide connectivity that MyFord Touch offers, a smart idea being that most people sync up their cell phones to their cars anyway, so why spend extra for technology that's not needed. 

We'll have to wait and see how much of the Start becomes reality, but MyFord Mobile is a definite and the new 1,000-cc EcoBoost engine is likely what future small Fords will be powered by.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, EV, Ford, 2010, Start Concept, Electric,

Geographic location: Beijing

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