The Ford Evos concept will never go on sale, but it's still a very important vehicle. This concept car, which debuts on Ford's stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show, is designed as a way for the Blue Oval's designers and engineers to showcase future Ford styling and technology trends.
Ford says the new global design language previewed by the Evos will appear on a production vehicle launching in 2012. It is essentially an evolution of current styling trends, rather than a dramatic revolutionary change. The headline of the Evos concept is the car's trapezoidal grille, which is positioned high on the front fascia. It will become the "face of Ford" and appear on all the brand's future car designs. The trapezoidal opening has been previewed on several other Ford cars, including the forthcoming Focus ST and Focus Electric. Extremely narrow lights and mirrors are meant to convey the idea that modern Fords are taut and precise vehicles.
The Evos is a four-door fastback design about the same length as but six inches wider than a 2012 Ford Focus hatchback. Four elaborate gull-wing doors rise to admit occupants to each of the four seats -- you can rest assured that such unusual openings are unlikely to appear on any production Ford product. With the doors closed, the Evos' taut lines and supple curves are more evident. A slender piece of glass in the roof connects the front and rear windshields. The body slopes dramatically behind the C-pillar, and tapers into what Ford calls a teardrop shape, sweeping in across the rear fenders. A single trapezoidal exhaust tip pokes out at the rear, beneath which sits an angular chrome diffuser.
The new design DNA is meant to imbue Ford cars with a sense of quality and performance, while at the same time making them appear light and efficient. A contradictory goal? We think not. The Evos concept looks mean and aggressive, with its gaping grille and tapered rear almost resembling a scaled-down Aston Martin. Yet at the same time it's clear that this is a compact, aerodynamic vehicle, with all the character lines and creases designed to guide air and eyes in equal measure.
The Evos concept gives "a clear message about where Ford design is heading," said Ford chief creative officer J Mays. "We worked particularly hard on meeting the high expectations of a new generation of buyers."
The interior is defined by four bucket seats and lots of trapezoidal shapes. Thanks to the gull-wing door design, there are no B-pillars bisecting the Evos' cabin. A color information screen curves down from the instrument cluster and into the center console, wrapping the screen around the red driver's seat. Rear-seat passengers each get to play with a touch-screen interface embedded into the front-seat headrests.
Taking driver engagement to a new level, Ford says the car's drivetrain and chassis will be adaptive both to the driver and road conditions. The Evos concept would "learn" how different people like to drive and tailor vehicle settings to suit. It would also evaluate the weather forecast for the chosen route and cater accordingly -- perhaps switching to a snow mode if you're heading for a blizzard, and a sportier mode if you're driving toward a twisty road on a sunny day.
In addition, Ford plans for a range of connectivity systems to link the car and driver with the so-called cloud. The car might match a driver's commuting route with local traffic and weather information, or automatically play a favorite song or radio station. It could retrieve pollution or pollen forecasts and suggest alternate routes for allergy sufferers. Ford even claims that these technologies would communicate with the driver's house to close the garage door and turn off lights remotely.
"The car gets to know you and can act as a personal assistant," said Ford chief technical officer Paul Mascarenas. "The possibilities are fascinating when we explore how to enable a seamless lifestyle between home, office, and car."
While the technologies planned for the Evos concept might not show up in production models for several years, they show the direction Ford plans for its future connectivity systems. Everything will become more personalized to the driver and more closely linked with the outside world via the Internet.
The Evos concept employs the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain that will be found under the hood of the Ford C-Max Energi, which will be introduced in 2012. The powertrain functions primarily as an electric car, with a lithium-ion battery sending power to an electric motor. A gasoline engine and generator can provide additional power, supposedly enough for up to 500 miles of travel on a single battery charge and tank of fuel.
Here, again, Ford envisions the car adapting to its driving conditions by the grace of the Internet. The Evos concept's navigation system could decide when to run on electrical power and when to use the gasoline engine. It might, for instance, save the battery's charge until reaching a city center where gasoline engines were prohibited, or alternate between different power sources for climbing mountains versus traveling on level roads.
Though the Evos itself isn't anything more than a beautiful concept car, all its styling cues and technologies will pave the way for future Ford products. The company promises that the new design language previewed here will be seen in Ford cars, crossovers, and multi-activity vehicles starting next year. The One Ford plan dictates that the company will sell a few, similar cars all around the world, and this new design DNA will help inform Ford's eight discrete design studios worldwide.
"The first fruit of this vision will be ready sooner than you might think," said Mays. He promises that the first production vehicle wearing this styling will debut about four months from now -- which would put it just in time for an appearance at the 2012 Detroit auto show.