LOS ANGELES, Jan. 2, 2003 – Why can’t there be an SUV tailored more for city life than backcountry pursuits? Why can’t there be a contemporary vehicle interior inspired by a fashionable twenty something’s apartment?
In fact, there could be. And that vehicle is the new Ford Faction concept making its debut at the 2003 Los Angeles Auto Show.
As the first automotive design from Ford’s new Ingeni studio in London, the Faction concept shows what happens when people living in the heart of a crowded, urban landscape set out to create a car to suit their lifestyle.
The result is a tough, yet fashionable three-door SUV with all-wheel drive, novel utility and multimedia features, plus a refined interior for American urbanites who know and appreciate European- influenced materials.
This is a concept vehicle with the honest, genuine appearance of a Ford, specifically created for people who live in the middle of the action – hence the name Faction. It’s for city drivers who haul friends and gear, and who need to maneuver quickly through crowded streets.
When parking becomes a precision sport, the Faction concept can be squeezed into tight spots with the help of City Eye, a camera system that provides a view of directly behind the vehicle.
“The Faction is designed for – and by – the lifestyle generation,” says Kris Tomasson, chief designer at Ingeni. “These are people with active, diverse lives who want a vehicle that’s functional, nimble and stylized.”
J Mays, Ford vice president, Design, commissioned the Ingeni project.
“The Faction concept is targeted at a new world audience that is very design savvy,” Mays says. “This is a refined product in much the same way as a nice watch or a piece of designer furniture. And that’s why were showing it in L.A. This is the only trend-setting city in America with a lifestyle built around people and their cars.”
City Living Made Easier
The design of the Faction concept is unique. It hinges on the concept of making life with a car in the city easier.
A city-friendly door system uses double-link hinges that make getting in and out of the car much easier when your parking ramp spot has been infringed by an inconsiderate neighbor. After pressing a button on the key fob, the circular door handle presents itself to the driver to indicate the doors have been unlocked even from a distance.
Faction’s unique tailgate has a low opening line with fully retractable glass that also is activated by the key fob. This feature allows smaller items to be loaded into the back of the vehicle without the need for opening the tailgate.
Interior Style and Utility
The interior of the new Faction concept was inspired by contemporary furniture. Ingeni designers were strongly influenced by trends at Europe’s annual Milan Furniture Fair. Faction concept features clean, simple shares and muted colors, with carefully selected materials, including leather.
Two unique items reinforce the influence casual furniture had on the Faction concept. A specially designed clock that displays two time zones – Los Angeles and London – has replaced the rear view mirror. Just behind the clock is a visible ceiling fan for ventilation and cooling.
The interior layout follows the philosophy of uncluttered, functional simplicity. The whole rear section of the roof is a glass panel, which gives a feeling of openness to the inside. When more cargo room is needed, the rear bench seat can be lowered with a single-switch retraction system. Additional functionality comes from a unique storage tray that slides in and out of the cargo area and can be used right-side up or up-side down, depending on package and luggage needs.
Many of the items drivers use, such as the CD holder, cupholder, waste-bin and an innovative retracting gearshift lever, have been relocated into the center armrest. This allowed the designers to simplify and lighten the instrument panel to a few necessary items including the speedometer, fuel level and a central multi-switch.
A Unique View: The City Eye
In addition to controlling the heating and cooling system, the multi-switch also is where drivers access the City Eye, a media system that provides security, entertainment and driving information to both the driver and passengers.
Multiple cameras take images from strategically placed interior and exterior locations – and make urban parking a whole new, easier experience. The images are displayed on three screens at the base of the windshield. The driver has a choice of a panoramic rear view, a close-up view directly behind the vehicle, a security scope, or the entertaining antics of other passengers.
The security mode keeps a close “eye” on the vehicle, informing the driver and local authorities of a possible break-in or theft. The City Eye also is where the driver can view videos as well as service information obtained via a custom-designed personal digital assistant.
Under The Hood
Although Faction concept drivers rarely venture off the paved streets of their urban environment, they have the capability to visit more rugged terrain should they desire. The vehicle has a permanent all-wheel-drive system, with traction and braking control and disc brakes on all four wheels, providing enhanced capability for wet or snowy road conditions.
Faction concept has been engineered for a responsive driving experience. It borrows its Duratec ST engine from the European Focus ST170, an uprated version of the standard 2.0-liter Focus powerplant that delivers 167 horsepower and 143 foot-pounds of torque.
It features a high-flow aluminum cylinder head with larger inlet valves and higher-lift intake and exhaust camshafts for higher peak rpm levels, plus continuously variable intake valve timing. Duratec ST’s dual stage intake (DSI) manifold uses long runners for low-end torque and shorter runners for higher peak power outputs, giving Faction its highly honed urban driveability.
It also features the refinement of a dual mass flyweel, which enhances the smoothness of the semi-automatic transmission.
From Ingeni in Europe to North America
The Faction concept is the first automotive design from Ingeni, Ford’s new design and creativity center in London.
Opened in June 2002, Ingeni has an international team of approximately 30 designers and business managers. From their base in the world’s capital of culture and style, the designers at Ingeni use state-of-the-art software and other computer technologies to create and capture quality designs. They also share insights with international experts from the worlds of fashion, commercial arts, advertising and marketing.
In addition to creating automobiles and lifestyle merchandise for Ford’s eight brands, the designers also develop non-automotive consumer products running the gamut from sunglasses to furniture.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is the world’s second largest automaker, with approximately 335,000 employees in 200 markets on six continents. Its automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Credit, Hertz and Quality Care. The company’s world headquarters are in Dearborn, Mich. Ford Motor Company will officially observe its 100th anniversary on June 16, 2003. Additional information can be found on the company’s web site at www.ford.com.