Ford's Equator concept at the Tokyo show is based on the current Ford Escape. It's more of a design project than an engineering exercise.
The Equator, which has a Ford Duratec 3.0-liter V-6 linked to a computer-controlled, 'intelligent' 4WD system, is a study put together by Ford's Lio Ho Design Technology Center in Taiwan, under the supervision of Asia Pacific design chief Paul Gibson, who is based in Australia. All key dimensions and mechanicals are identical to the Escape.
The Equator was developed for Tokyo show and other key shows in the region to give people a fresh look at Ford's small SUV. In many markets in the region, the Escape is Ford's best-selling vehicle and a brand icon for the Dearborn, Michigan maker.
Painted a brilliant "first-light orange" (evoking the image of the rising sun over the equatorial horizon, Ford says), the Equator proposes a fresh look with new front end sheetmetal and lower skirts, plus aggressive nineteen-inch, ten-spoke wheels. The Equator also takes an important, incremental step toward more premium, sophisticated positioning.
It's a vehicle developed very much with Asian consumers in mind, and Japan in particular. There are not too many Lincoln Aviators or Navigators in that part of the globe, so for Ford the idea of a more premium SUV is inviting.
Ford says there's not much of a story to tell yet in terms of pre-production, testing, etc. "Certainly the Escape is a critical vehicle for Ford in the region, and we intend to invest to ensure it remains successful, but Equator is really just testing the waters in a potential direction" a spokesman said.