Out of all the Detroit automakers, Ford Motor Company was arguably the first to really establish itself as a true global entity, designing, engineering and manufacturing vehicles under a single brand in different parts of the world, catered to different regional needs.
Today, thanks to the implementation of the One Ford strategy; it appears that the Blue Oval has amplified that strategy, taking an almost one-size fits all approach to its cars and trucks, no matter where in the world it sells vehicles. Witness the (re) introduction of the Fiesta in North America, the global 2012 Focus, the 2013 Escape/Kuga and Fusion/Mondeo.
At Geneva, the focus (pun intended) was on its new B-Max. Replacing the European Fusion (which like the B-Max, was also Fiesta based and not to be confused with our mid-size sedan), this new MPV, which will go on sale in Europe late this year, reminds us very much of a downsized Mazda5.
Ford says it will be one of the most advanced small cars on the market thanks to features such as electric power steering, Auto Stop/Start, regenerative battery charging, sliding Easy Access rear side doors, one touch 60/40 folding rear seat, folding front passenger seat, and standard SYNC voice activation (making it the first Euro market Ford product to feature the technology).
A range of engines will be offered in Europe, including 100 or 120 PS (metric horsepower) 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, a 90 PS 1.4L and 100 PS 1.6L Duratec four cylinder and 75 PS 1.5L and 95 PS 1.6L Duratorq diesels, teamed with either a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed dual clutch automatic transaxle.
Although there’s been no official word on whether such a vehicle will make it to the US, given Ford’s current strategy and the need for automakers to achieve higher fuel economy figures based on CAFE requirements, there’s a possibility that the B-Max could materialize on our shores in the next few years, since such a machine would help Ford reduce it’s overall fleet fuel economy. If that proves to be the case, then it’s likely the regular gas and EcoBoost engines will be offered and possibly a Hybrid driveline.
In Europe, Ford says that it expects around 40 percent of B-Max customers to be looking at “right-sizing”, essentially trading in their current car for something smaller that can still meet their requirements. With compact cars acquiring a larger chunk of the market stateside these days, there’s also a logical argument that the same strategy could work here too.
In the meantime, given it’s level of versatility, powertrain configurations and features, the B-MAX will like prove to be a big seller in Europe, following in the Ford small car tradition.