Short for Sport Activity Vehicle, the SAV features three rows of seats.
Ford of Europe jazzes up minivan
Automaker's Sport Activity Vehicle concept offers interior flexibility and sporty styling.
By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News
Can a minivan be sexy without giving up its versatility and practicality?
Ford Motor Co. will test the waters today with the SAV concept at the Geneva Motor Show.
Short for Sport Activity Vehicle, the SAV features three rows of seats that can be reconfigured to accommodate additional cargo.
"We've got the interior flexibility, but we've also got a car that doesn't look like a minivan," said J Mays, Ford Motor Co.'s group vice president of design and chief creative officer.
While minivans grew in popularity following the former Chrysler Corp.'s 1983 launch of the Dodge Caravan, they became an object of derision as motorists lamented their lack of style. Efforts to change the image, such as Nissan's latest Quest in 2003, have met with mixed success.
Ford's goal for the SAV is to satisfy the sporty predilection of European motorists without compromising their need for utility.
"Europeans tend to own one car as opposed to Americans, with three," Mays said "They need a vehicle to be versatile."
The SAV signals the pending demise of the Galaxy, Ford's longtime minivan entry in Europe. It will also allow Ford to cut engineering costs by consolidating the production of more models on fewer basic platforms.
"It's one of the vehicles that will replace Galaxy," Mays said, adding Ford will be introducing a range of vehicles to compete in Europe's people-mover market.
The Galaxy is expected to disappear from the Ford lineup within three years. The SAV is based on a modified version of Ford's so-called C1 platform - the backbone of the Mazda3, the Volvo S40 and V50, and Ford Focus models sold outside North America.
The next-generation Land Rover Freelander is also scheduled to be built on a version of the platform. Ford expects the new platform to account for one million units of production annually.