This Monday at the Detroit Auto Show 2011, Ford introduced the public to its Vertrek compact SUV concept. The vehicle is built on Ford’s new global C-segment platform, which the company states will replace three platforms currently in use, and underpin more than 2 million automobiles (including the ubiquitous Focus) by 2012. Ford describes the Vertrek as its “vision for a utility vehicle that will appeal to customers around the globe; it signals the direction Ford will take in developing a new global utility vehicle.”

The Vertrek features a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, equipped with Ford’s new Auto Start-Stop technology – this system automatically shuts off the engine while idle (such as when waiting at stoplights), then starts it up again within about 0.3 seconds, when the driver wishes to move on. The company estimates that by using Start-Stop, the Vertrek could achieve CO2 and fuel savings of up to five percent in mixed driving conditions, and up to ten percent in heavy traffic. The high-output, small-displacement EcoBoost engine itself already claims 20 percent better fuel economy and 15 percent less CO2 production than comparable larger engines, and now also benefits from the addition of variable valve timing and a comprehensive engine control system.

Outside of the U.S., Ford suggests that a future Vertrek-inspired vehicle could alternatively be powered by a Duratorq TDCi deisel engine.

The SUV also serves as a showcase for Ford’s Smart Regenerative Charging, which increases the alternator output when the vehicle brakes or decelerates, thus converting the kinetic energy of the vehicle into electric energy without using additional fuel. That electricity is used to charge the battery, so that the electrical system can draw upon it when the Vertrek is in Stop mode, or when the generator is operating in a less-efficient mode. The battery management system communicates with the Start/Stop system, so the engine won’t be shut off when there’s insufficient current to restart it.

Ford claims that the Vertrek offers “outstanding levels of cargo space, trailer-tow and off-road capability,” while also offering good fuel economy, low emissions and appealing looks. The concept is intended to give consumers a chance to indicate what sort of trade-offs they would be willing to make in order to attain all of these features in a future production vehicle.

All photographs courtesy Ford Motor Company