Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
Ford's concept cars cater to three segments
Vehicles have motor heads, families, environment in mind
By Mark Truby / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- High-horsepower performance cars are hot again. Versatile family haulers have never really gone out of style. And environmentally friendly vehicles represent the future.
These automotive axioms guided Ford Motor Co.'s high-volume Ford brand in developing three concept vehicles for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Chairman Bill Ford Jr. unveiled them Sunday at Cobo Hall along with a film marking 100 years of the company's history.
For motor heads, Ford offers the 427, a slab-sided black and chrome machine that conjures images of the bad-boy American sedans of the 1960s. Ford made a high-performance sedan called the 427 back then. The new 427 unbashedly revels in Rat Pack-esqe nostalgia, with a 7.0-liter, 590-horsepower engine and a muscular grille.
"It's the kind of car that, when you drive it, makes it look like you are doing something wrong," said Ford design chief J Mays.
For the more pragmatic, family-oriented buyer, the company designed the Freestyle FX concept, which Bill Ford Jr. described as a "purpose-built crossover vehicle."
The show car is similar to the Freestyle sport wagon Ford will start selling in 2004.
The Freestyle FX show car uses a novel retractable rear cover to convert from a six-passenger wagon to utility vehicle with a small pickup bed.
"The Freestyle FX is a complete surprise box when you open it up," said Chris Theodore, Ford's head of engineering.
Ford's most ambitious and forward-thinking concept, the Model U, is packed with an array of future technologies. Ford hopes the Model U will lend credibility to its effort to become a more environmentally and socially responsible automaker, and that the concept will catch on. Predicted Bill Ford Jr., "The Model U will be the next Model T."
A small, boxy utility vehicle, the Model U is powered by a supercharged hydrogen internal combustion engine and a hybrid electric transmission. Ford used natural fibers to build the side panels. The cloth seats are upholstered with recyclable fibers. The Model U's canvas roof and carpet mats are made from materials that break down to biological nutrients.
The Model U is also a test vehicle for some of Ford's best safety technologies, including speech recognition software that can limit driver distraction. The vehicle also features pre-crash sensors and advanced night vision systems.
"Emissions, safety and fuel economy, but also green materials and processes are all key questions facing the industry," said Gerhard Schmidt, Ford's head of research and advanced engineering. "We believe the Model U addresses them all."
(Pic) John T. Greilick / The Detroit News
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....