Ford Evos

ford-evos

Presenting the Evos at Frankfurt last September, Ford chief creative officer J Mays promised that the styling direction embodied in the attractive concept -- created by Ford of Europe -- would be seen in a production car in four months, just about time for the Detroit show. So perhaps there will be a really stunning mainstream Ford sedan for the first time in too many years. Not that any of the present One Ford models, from the tiny Fiat 500-based Ka in Europe, to Mazda-inspired Fiestas and Focuses, to Volvo-influenced Mondeos, to the almost-all-American Taurus, are bad. They're not. It's just that their styling is at best so-so.

That's not true for this concept. The Evos may have more surface fussiness than is absolutely necessary, but overall it's very pleasant -- even beautiful from some angles -- so any available future variations will be something to celebrate. I'm talking about the overall composition and surfacing, not the wild swing-up doors that will have no reason to exist in mainstream cars. Designers use the swing-away sides in concept cars so show goers can see their fabulous interiors. Unfortunately, those usually get watered down to banality for production.

There are two good reasons for showing fanciful interiors. As traffic builds and average commutes take longer, owners must spend more time in their cars every day, so it's vital to entice buyers with interior designs suggesting more comfort and livability. The second purpose is to get the press and the public insisting that they want such extreme designs so that timid executives and penny-pinching "bean counters" will allow some evolution -- even if it's more expensive than reusing old tools and concepts.

Over the past two decades, progress in engineering has been astonishing and improvements in aerodynamic drag reduction have been appreciable, but interiors have pretty much stagnated. True, GPS screens -- often poorly integrated -- and iPod connectors are common, and from time to time one finds a head-up display, but seats are little different from what they were forty years ago. I doubt that the first production car derived from the Evos concept will be any different, but if we do get its simple, flowing lines, excellent centerline profile, and interesting surfaces, both consumers and the Ford Motor Company will benefit.

We as a nation and as a people will benefit from Ford and General Motors (and even Fiat/Chrysler) making cars attractive enough and good enough that we and our fellow citizens will buy them instead of lining up to buy cars from Germany, Japan, Korea, and -- soon -- China because they're better than what we make. Many almost-there cars are made in the United States, but we need cars that are clearly better. It's not an easy task, but the people at Ford have done a terrific job on chassis dynamics, an adequate (or outstanding, with the Mustang Boss 302) job on engines, but not quite a good enough job on appearance, which, like it or not, is the key to sales. The Evos implies that things are going to get better.

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