Ford Start Concept
23rd April, 2010
- New three-cylinder Ford EcoBoost petrol engine supports the company’s future philosophy of more
power for less fuel
- 1.0 litre Ford EcoBoost I3 will deliver comparable power and torque to a larger I4 engine
combined with exceptional fuel economy for a petrol engine
- Anticipated CO2 emissions to be less than 100g/km
- Latest addition to the advanced Ford EcoBoost engine line-up will bring affordable and powerful
technology to a mainstream vehicle range
For parts of the world that are growing increasingly urban, the future of the automobile looks
small, smart and fun in the eyes of Ford designers who came up the Ford Start Concept. It’s a design
vision inspired for the transportation needs of the world’s mega cities.
Making its global debut this week-end at the 2010 Beijing Motor Show, the Ford Start Concept is
more than simply a design exploration into the feasibility of a small car. It also demonstrates how
Ford will extend the promise of its EcoBoost engine technology story even further – previewing a
fuel-efficient petrol Ford EcoBoost engine with just three cylinders and 1.0 litre of displacement,
yet the power of a larger, 1.6 litre I4 engine.
Ford Start Concept was inspired, in part, by a growing global trend toward mass urbanisation. The
world’s top 20 mega-cities are home to consumers whose needs, attitudes and expectations may have
more in common with mega-city dwellers in other nations than with their own countrymen. While these
consumers share the challenges of living in an urban society, they also increasingly seek out product
solutions that bring the best the world has to offer.
These insights inspired Ford designers to envision a future sporty, small-car package geared to
their needs and urban mindset.
Today, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in an urban area. By 2050, that number
is expected to skyrocket to more than 70 per cent. Already, congested highways, space for parking,
concerns over fuel efficiency as well as the availability and price of fuel are driving car makers to
look at vehicles and personal transportation more differently than ever before.
“Our ambition with the Ford Start Concept was to design a car that transcends the practical
realities of commuting in these mega cities and goes beyond just dressing the technology. We wanted
to design a car you would also love,” explained Freeman Thomas, design director.
Living in the mega city poses unique challenges and inspires unique lifestyles and attitudes. Just
as traffic congestion issues are common in these geographic areas, the answers to solve the issues of
a new generation of future small cars for these urban markets may also be found in the Ford Start
“The team has delivered a concept car which reflects a decidedly playful take on Ford kinetic
design and builds on our fun-to-drive 'DNA', yet addresses real issues that everyone will be facing
in the future of car design,” said Martin Smith, executive director, Ford Europe and Asia Pacific
As Ford has found with its global ONE Ford strategy, what was once a regional or individual market
issue, is now global. Across the world, more consumers are confronting issues including “eco-friendly”
technology, more efficient use of available space, recycling and asking if big is necessarily better.
It’s an attitude that unites 'urbanites' around the world.
Searching for efficient power, using light weight materials that can be recycled and optimising
interior space with a small exterior 'footprint' are some of the challenges designers explored.
Could Ford deliver on these challenges, while also designing a concept that would enhance Ford’s
At the forefront, Ford has introduced some very real technology in the Start Concept to address
fuel efficiency, reduce the use raw of materials and minimise the carbon footprint of a car.
Equipped with a powerful new Ford EcoBoost 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine to maximise fuel
efficiency and meet lower emission standards, Ford’s latest concept car includes technology that is
class leading and will come into production in the near future. With CO2 emissions of less that 100
g/km, the petrol engine has power and drivability comparable to an I4 powerplant.
Ford Start Concept also introduces a MyFord Mobile Concept that pairs with a smart phone to
allow occupants to perform a multitude of in-car functions, all wrapped in a Sub-B design concept
that uses light weight material and aerodynamics.
“It may be small with a minimal amount of features but we haven’t ignored the basics like
delivering more traditional driving characteristics including sporty handling, a simple analogue
interface and an interior that is pure and authentic like early sport cars from the 1950s,”
“With the Ford Start Concept, we didn’t set out to design some sort of utilitarian appliance
to save the world, nor were we interested in following the competitive trend toward an overly
noisy design language. What we did set out to do was design a personality driven car that exudes
warmth, charm and aspiration…to design a car worth bonding with,” said J Mays, group vice
president Design and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company.
Crisp highlights are incorporated into a smooth exterior shell constructed with light weight
composite body panels.
Ford’s trademark kinetic trapezoidal grille moves upward onto the rounded, sleek form, reducing
the number of prominent openings from two to one and providing a face that’s both sporting and
The entire exterior surface of the Ford Start Concept has been designed with flush-mounted
aerodynamic features designed to cheat the wind – providing a minimal amount of drag while
achieving maximum fuel efficiency.
Efficiency also is evident in the teardrop silhouette and ground plan, in the full aerodynamic
underbody and in the reduced cross sectional area.
Flush, stamped aluminium wheels and a subtle fin on the roof, which also houses the centre
high mounted stop lamp, complete the aerodynamic detailing.
Slim, laser-cut LED headlamps provide high-intensity light through trapezoid tubes. Two sets of
running lamps, including a pair located in the headlamp design and a pair of lower running lamps,
provide night-time illumination.
The long, thin upper headlamps sweep from the centre of the fascia into the side of the guard,
whilst “digital pulse” turn indicators are housed in the lower running lamp.
The innovative hybrid aluminium, high-strength steel body construction features a light weight
aluminium safety cell that provides a rigid attachment structure for the glass and roof, as well as
housing side curtain air bags. All exterior body panels are made from deformable, pre-coloured
The roof appears separated by glass from the overall body and immediately evokes images of sleek,
sporty hardtop designs while providing full panoramic visibility for the driver.
As an added feature, the composite roof panel is designed to snap fit on the vehicle and could
easily be removed and exchanged by the owner as a customised accessory. All glass is flush mounted
for minimal wind resistance, trimmed tightly with brushed steel to accentuate the crisp lines
included in the form of the 'greenhouse'. Visibility and driver safety are optimised by recessed
B-pillars and see-through C-pillars, plus a wraparound rear window allowing for a 180-degree view.
Like the front guards, rear quarter panels have a minimal amount of overhang with just 629
millimetres from the rear wheel centre to rear bumper. Rear wheel arches are pronounced and
contribute to the overall solid stance of the Ford Start Concept from every angle.
Mirroring the laser-cut front lamp treatment, the LED tail lamps sweep into the rear-end and
are depressed into a pocket that cuts into the body surface. Included in the rear lamps are integral
turn signals with a sequential feature that moves outward from the centre of the lamps when the
indicator is applied, providing a sweeping effect.
The rear of the Ford Start Concept is equipped with a traditional boot. The backlight is fixed. A
centre-mounted, cast aluminium tip is fitted to the exhaust pipe to provide a finishing touch.
The flush, aerodynamic wheels designed for the Ford Start Concept are pressed aluminium measuring
17 x 6.5 inches, fitted with exclusively designed Michelin Green X 205/45R17 tyres. A unique tread
design combines to minimise noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) while providing reduced rolling
resistance for better fuel efficiency.
To help minimise the aerodynamic inefficiencies found in various pockets and intrusions under the
car, the Ford Start Concept is fitted with a full underbody belly pan. The one-piece pan provides an
effective solution to reducing drag from air flow passing under the vehicle. Coarse road noise also
The concept is based upon a chassis with a wheelbase that is 2,300 millimetres and an overall
length under 3,700 millimetres. The width is 1,672 millimetres with height at approximately 1,400
The minimalist approach extends into the interior of Ford Start Concept with a simplistic, twin
cockpit, “tub” design that provides seating for up to four occupants. The tub interior provides a
unique appearance, higher quality and reduced cost through its simplified, one piece construction.
The instrument panel includes a pod-type cluster that easily converts to both left- and right-hand
The sweeping instrument panel and console are constructed with a single modular trim piece that
starts at the base of the windshield and flows through the bottom of the centre console.
The five-speed manual transmission shift lever is centrally located up high in the console. Window
switches and the push button start feature are located in the centre console and provide easy
accessibility for either right- or left-hand drivers.
Seats, while simple, have been ergonomically designed to provide maximum comfort, personal
flexibility and easy access to the rear. A mono-rail seat pedestal allows fore and aft movement and
allows for access to the rear seats. Constructed with a composite shell to reduce weight, moulded
seat inserts are designed to snap into the seat shell and are interchangeable to suit driver
The rear seating area also is constructed with a one piece mould and includes a removable seat
Moulded rubber is used on the floor, consistent with the simplified approach to the interior. The
mat is durable and can be cleaned easily.
Rails and pillars throughout the interior are constructed of aluminium and fitted with side curtain
HMI – Human Machine Interface
Located at the top of the console is a port to connect to the MyFord Mobile concept technology,
which provides a seamless driver interface conducive to safe driving practices with personal handheld
Without a smart phone, car-related functions including heating, ventilation and air conditioning
(HVAC), engine diagnostics and passenger airbag on/off function can be easily viewed and adjusted
while driving through either voice activation or toggle and scroll controls located on the console. A
wide, six-inch screen provides visuals.
As an added feature, when the driver inserts a smart phone in the docking station when the vehicle
is in motion, access is available via the MyFord Mobile Concept to phone contacts and navigation
tools through voice activation, as are all messaging, direction and communication features.
If the smart phone device is docked and the vehicle is parked and powered off, both the vehicle
functions and icons from the user’s device are available via the MyFord Mobile Concept. Icons are
displayed on the large screen through Bluetooth transfer. Car functions and the speaker system are
controlled through voice activation.
MyFord Mobile Concept restricts certain functions, such as texting, while driving.
To help owners keep up with the latest trends and developments in personal electronics, the MyFord
Mobile Concept is intended to be flexible, and can be adapted to suit changing mobile phone technology
or driver preferences.
Ford Start Concept is equipped with Ford EcoBoost engine technology to maximise power and fuel
efficiency from a future production 1.0 litre, three-cylinder engine.
Consistent with Ford’s long-range goals to provide more power though sophisticated turbocharging
and spark-ignited, direct-injection fuel management systems, the petrol 1.0 litre Ford EcoBoost
engine delivers power and torque comparable to a normally aspirated 1.6 litre I4 powerplant. It is
expected to have CO2 emissions under the 100 g/km threshold.
This engine is coupled with a five-speed manual transmission which permits gear spacing to deliver
performance without sacrificing fuel economy. The transmission easily handles the higher torque
levels of the 1.0 litre Ford EcoBoost engine and together with the sporty handling of the Ford Start
Concept, delivers the fun-to-drive characteristics that are at the core of the Ford brand DNA.
Designed by a global team of designers working at Ford’s Irvine (California) Strategic Concepts
Group Studios, this sporty, futuristic concept combines near-production Ford EcoBoost engine
technology and slick aerodynamics in an environmentally friendly package with reduced greenhouse
emissions, all wrapped in an exciting design.
“As a pure, bespoke concept, the Ford Start isn’t destined for production, but of course we’re
very interested in hearing how customers in urban growth markets react to its design and
features,” Thomas said.