What it Is
Ford Verve Sedan Concept – Detroit Auto Show: Adaptation is the key to survival, whether you’re coping with life after divorce or playing in one of the most competitive markets on the planet. As car buyers faced with new environmental concerns and higher gas prices, we’ve had to change our perception about the vehicles we drive, with many of us opting for smaller, fuel-efficient alternatives. In turn, manufacturers such as Ford have had to adapt, which has lead to the development of the European-styled Verve Sedan Concept, a sub-Focus four-door the Blue Oval brand promises will deliver much more than fuel efficiency when it arrives for the 2010 model year.
Why it Matters
To remain relevant, Ford needs to become competitive. That doesn’t mean being number one in truck or SUV sales, two segments that are suffering stagnant or slipping sales. Instead, the Blue Oval needs homeruns in the crossover and passenger car segments, one of which is the growing arena of subcompacts. Honda, Chevy, Nissan, Toyota and others are already reaping the rewards for developing these small, fuel-efficient rides, but Ford’s seat at the table has thus far remained empty. That’ll change when the Verve Sedan makes its debut for the 2010 model year.
What’s Under the Hood
Despite being destined for the U.S. market in 2010, Ford is remaining mum about the Verve Sedan’s powertrain. The official comment is that the Blue Oval’s new subcompact sedan will utilize a “fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine” – hardly a surprise there, but that leaves the window open for hybrid, turbocharging, and other strategies. Whatever Ford decides to pack under the Verve Sedan’s hood, output will need to slot in below the Focus, which pushes up to 140 horsepower, and compete on even ground with cars like the 109-horsepower Honda Fit and 122-horsepower Nissan Versa.
What it Looks Like
If you’re thinking the Verve Sedan offers a certain European flair, you’re right. Designed in Europe as a vehicle that could be adapted for most any market, the Verve is truly a world car. Adopting Ford’s signature triple-blade chrome grille atop a gaping lower grille, LED side marker lights integrated into the front fascia, swept-back headlights and strong body lines, the Verve Sedan is noticeably smaller than the current Focus, with a loss of 30 inches in length, three inches in wheelbase, nearly three inches in width, and more than four inches in height.
Designers drew inspiration from a variety of sources when crafting the Verve Sedan Concept’s interior. The primary gauges, including a speedometer and tachometer, were fashioned after a set of binoculars, the large rotary climate control dials adopt cues from “high-quality power showers,” and perhaps most interesting, the layout of the center controls mirrors that of a typical cell phone. As such, the display screen is set near the top of the dash, as would be the placement on a phone, while all of the myriad buttons are located below. Also noticeable are vibrant and rich colors, as well as soft and textured materials.
What Ford Says
Ford’s design chief, J Mays, says, “The Ford global design team remembered, not so fondly, the econo-boxes of the 1970sand created the Verve concept as a vision of just how good a small car can be. Verve aims to right North American buyers’ earlier small-car experiences by offering a product that changes customers’ views of small cars from cheap to chic – and from affordable to desirable.”
What We Think
Ford hasn’t sold anything smaller than the Focus in the U.S. since the Aspire’s expiration in 1997. With truck sales stagnant, gasoline prices still hovering near $3 per gallon and tighter fuel economy rules in place, the Blue Oval needs a subcompact car in its American lineup, no matter what it’s called.
Photo credit: Ford Motor Company