The four-door Ford Verve concept debuting at the 2008 Detroit auto show is our first look at an all-new small car that Ford will begin selling here in 2010. We first saw the Verve as a two-door hatchback concept car at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The Frankfurt hatch is making its Stateside debut at the Detroit auto show as well, so that Ford can gauge Americans' interest in that particular body style. A production version of the Verve hatch goes on sale later this year in Europe. Sadly, Americans looking for a small car from Ford must contend with the recently revised but aged Focus for the time being.
It looks like the Ford Verve, which is likely to be renamed for production, will be worth the wait, though, as it promises to be the first stylish, fun-to-drive, desirable small car from Detroit in a long time. It will compete in what's known in Europe as the "B-segment" and which is a growing niche here in the States represented by such cars as the Honda Fit, the Toyota Yaris, the Nissan Versa, and the Chevy Aveo. Small-car sales are expected to expand by more than 25 percent over the next four years, to 3.4 million units by 2012. If Ford can snag even a few hundred thousand of those unit sales, the Verve will be a smash success both for the company's bottom line and for its image.
The Verve's rallying cry is its progressive, modern styling. "Verve aims to `right' North American buyers' earlier small-car experiences," says Ford's design chief, J Mays, "by offering a product that changes customers' views of small cars from `cheap' to chic--and from affordable to desirable." With Ford's signature three-bar grille hovering over a bold, inverted trapezoidal lower grille; huge projector-beam headlamps stretching almost back to the A-pillars; eighteen-inch wheels; and the pillarless side window shape, the handsome Verve cannot come soon enough to Ford's lineup.
Naturally, the Verve's cabin is a playground for the "millennial" demographic (those aged 13 to 28 years) who will comprise 28 percent of the total United States population by 2010. In a clear nod to those consumers, the Verve concept's instrument panel controls are designed in a way that mimics the logic of a mobile phone.
The Verve will be the first vehicle that Ford will offer in America built off a global platform, part of the company's new effort to maximize global efficiencies and share platforms across markets. What this means is that Ford is finally going to offer Americans some of the good stuff they've been selling to Europeans all along. To that, and to the Verve, we say, hooray!