Friday, June 27, 2008

Focus III: the global platform and more

One of the most important features of the next Focus iteration is that it will become a global platform developed taking into account both European and North-American markets. Other than the necessary provision for really big cupholders (a feature that can be easily differentiated between EU and NA versions), different engine ranges (the new Ford turbo gasoline engines will arrive in great timing) one should be worried that some of the great Focus features could be lost due to market constraints. For example, check the doors of any Euro Focus II: these are exquisite pieces with plenty of rubber lines for isolation and even plastic covers in the top framing for better sound isolation and allowing no visible sheetmetal. Americans are just not used to this level of detail, in this particular the Focus is actually class leading in Europe, better than what you can find in a Toyota Auris or VW Golf. Please Ford, keep those nice doors.

Attention to detail must also be found in the 3rd generation Focus interiors. In this particular Ford must be careful in order to avoid some minor mistakes in the Mondeo, notably the inadequate use of fake wood and the too large surfacing of metal-imitating plastic applications. These kind of features tend to look cheap so it will be better to use smaller and more uniform surfaces for metal-like or wood-like appliqu├ęs. Other than that the Mondeo is a good inspiration for interior design, as well as the Peugeot 308 or Audi A3. The key theme should be: all black with accents of chrome. And please loose the oval vents, circular or rectangular shaped will be much classier.

The development of a global platform for the Focus class brings some grey areas (will the NA market adopt the car?...; will it change too much for EU tastes?...). However, it can have huge economical advantages namely in the “buying power”, that is, the ability to get better pricing with component manufacturers due to much higher volume levels. Hopefully this could also allow the introduction of higher technological features such as AWD option. Availability of AWD option is a premium factor in some European markets but it could also allow a future RS version with more than 300hp and AWD as it should be… instead of the 280hp FWD(!!!) thing that Ford is about to show us in a few weeks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Focus III...

The image below shows a possible interpretation of the rear design of the Ford Focus III. I don't know how much of it is based in real information but let me make this clear right now: it looks fantastic!... better yet, it's fucking great! Perfect! Please notice the evolution of the rear lights keeping the Focus high-mount signature but with a more upscale look. Also have a look at the huge wrap-around bumper, a feature that is now feasible and looks great. If this is the real deal then Ford has a home-run in its hands.
Another thing in the "wishlist" that is visible in the CGI is a "more compact" visual. This means that some of the car proportions, particularly in the rear section are a bit closer to the first generation Focus than the current model that is a bit more elongated with a higher slope in the C-pillar/3rd window area. So please bring more compactness to the car, a feature that favours a more robust perception in the design.
One of the things Ford must be targeting is a more upscale design that can allow high sales volumes with more margin per car. Such objective can be achieved with a more emotional design but also with some clever detailing. Some little touches that can make a difference are a particular headlamp design (wonderfully executed in the current C-Max in xenon versions but also in the rear light cluster with LEDs). But it would also be nice to see in the new Focus the kind of door framing present in the S-Max and Mondeo with a nice glow finish. This type of element was actually present in the Focus I so it's time to bring it back in place of the vulgar plastics of the Focus II.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ford Focus III

The CGI presented below is recent although it is based on an older CGI from a Greek magazine. The more recent interpretation incorporates design elements from the new Fiesta. We can confirm that some of the elements in the image are real, namely the overall shape and proportions of the car... or maybe we can't but we really want the final version to look like that. The thing is, in this piece of writing some stuff might be real and some will just be our wishes for the new Focus, hoping someone listens...

So starting on the front design please do keep the lower trapezoidal grille. This is a design element very well resolved in recent Euro-Fords and one that establishes a clear and dynamic front identity. If Ford does not change its mind in future car generations with new languages different from current "Kinetic Design" I could see this trapezoidal element to achieve the same importance as the twin kidneys in BMW or Audi's singleframe. Such strong and time-lasting front identity would be important to improve image for the brand.

The reader will notice in the image below that the shoulder line is higher than in the current version. This is a typical element of CGIs and design sketches (just as the huge wheels) but it is one that I would like to see implemented. More metal, less glass... as if it would move to a "5-door coupe" language or if you prefer a bit more Audi-influenced side profile. The reader will also notice the character line running in the sides, this must-have feature in current automobile design is already present in the current Focus II.5 and will be carried on to version III. Actually, inside information has already confirmed that the new car will look a lot like the current Focus restyled but with a more cohesive design. I like those words, "cohesive design", I think it's just what Ford needs for generation III Focus: a more cohesive design, even stronger proportions (a Martin Smith specialty) and a time-lasting surface language. Well, this is so easy to write and ask for these things, it all makes sense but in reality it's very difficult to achieve... however, congratulations to Ford for the restyled European Focus, it really is a strong base to build the 3rd generation.

More on Focus III in the next days, the rear design, the interior wish-list, the "global platform" thing, will it have huge cupholders because of the Americans?...

Friday, June 20, 2008

News on Ford... and on Focus III next week

First things first: next week you will be able to read some stuff about the 3rd generation Ford Focus here at auto-future. Because we have new info?... no, simply because I noticed in our statcounter software some suspicious IP addresses that suggest important people from an important manufacturer read this joint. Oh yes, or maybe we got it totally wrong who knows... but some of that IP information doesn't show only numbers... also cities and even companies... great thing that statcounter software. So I will take this opportunity to write about the Focus III, more precisely on how I think the new car should be!

Other Ford bits are extremely amusing: this week a rumour spread that North-American Ford was about to retool some of its factories from trucks and big SUVs to compact cars. It's not just a rumour, it's true. And those compact cars are no other than the Euro Focus and related family such as the C-Max and Kuga. This reminded us of our April's fool joke when we came up with the "news" that Ford of Europe was declaring independence!... it seems after all that Ford of Europe is taking over global Ford in the development of new products (future Fusion/Mondeo, new global Fiesta) and now bringing some Euro models to America. That Ford badge with the yellow stars is starting to make sense after all...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Peugeot 608

The image below is from AutoExpress but its origins are French magazine AutoPlus. I have information that the image is reliable so be shocked... a reliable AutoExpress CGI! Regarding the new car, it seems Peugeot stoped bothering about the regular version and went straight to the 4-door coupe derivative... frequent readers will remember the love of auto-future for 4-door coupes so yes, this is great news. So the 608 is a 4-door coupe based on the Citroen C6 platform, with pneumatic suspension available as an option and a great range of diesel engines. The most interesting feature about the car is the possibility of a diesel-hybrid version with unbeatable CO2 emissions in that class. French ministers will be travelling in class.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

EV future: Details on Mitsubishi offer

I think I should link the interested reader to a EV World article with details about the future of Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Please read it, it's great news and of course, EV World is a great site following EVs for many years now. Also worth noticing recent news that PSA and Mitsubishi will study further cooperation extending to electric vehicles. It seems PSA does not want to loose this new trend, now that executives from VW and Mercedes finally assumed that EVs will play an important rule in the sustainable future of automobile...

Friday, June 13, 2008

EV future: some Nissan numbers

Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Nissan's executive vice president for research and development, said advances in lithium-ion battery technology will dramatically boost the operating range of electric vehicles, potentially broadening their appeal. Some numbers:
- 400km range for the 4th (!!) generation lithium-ion batteries that will be ready by 2015;
- 2nd generation available in 2010 with 170km range, presumably the first EV to be globaly sold by Nissan
- 3rd generation lithium-ion technology (2012) good for 300km;
- mass production of batteries by Nissan and NEC starts in 2009 (13000 units) and could reach 65000 units per year.

I assume the range numbers are for a small city car such as the Mixim concept and 65000 batteries per year doesn´t sound like much but considering the rate that things will be changing this can certainly improve.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Peugeot 3008

The Peugeot 3008, a couple of pics. A new car in the competitive compact monospace segment, as such, a late arrival in the Scenic/Picasso/C-Max party. I wonder why Peugeot took so long... The new car might also spin-off a small off-roader version although in that segment Peugeot would be so late that might as well not bother at all. From the pictures there are several Peugeot clues: the black plastic bags camouflage and the lack of rubber in the doors! But the images also show a sporty appearance with a smalish greenhouse than the usual in this kind of vehicles.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ford Fusion

The European Fusion, that is. Based on the new global Fiesta, so this one might also turn out as a global car and end up in the USA and other markets. Anyway it won't probably look like the CGI below, although the idea of a small-SUV with emissions under 120g/km would be nice. Ford could use as inspiration the Suzuki SX4, a well resolved small-SUV. And put some Euro-Fordness in the handling, great diesels and refinement of the car.