January 15, 2008 The Ford Motor Company is using the North American International Auto Show to introduce its vision for the future of the small car segment captured in the Verve supermini concept. Aiming to bring a new level of style and sophistication to the small car platform, both the four and three-door body styles of the fuel-efficient, 4-cylinder Verve are being unveiled in Detroit. The four-door is the basis for the production vehicle that will be sold in North America from 2010 with the European three-door (which appeared at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show) being shown to test market reaction to the bodystyle in the U.S.
The Verve concept is built off of a design architecture flexible enough to yield three distinctive vehicles. The North American Verve sedan, painted in Rouge Red, has been modified slightly from its European and Asian counterparts – most notably in its front fascia.
Flanked by two unique LED side markers, the inverted trapezoidal front lower grille has been downsized with the familiar Ford blue oval appearing in the upper grille. Rearward-stretching headlamps - each with two projector beams and a light-emitting diode (LED) array - are designed to give the face of the Ford Verve concept a friendly, open and inviting personality and the car's profile is emphasized by the pillarless side window shape and the upper contour that mirrors the body’s curving upper line.
Other standout design elements include a panoramic glass roof, 18-inch, 12-spoke, two-piece alloy wheels and the discreet use of chrome accents in the door handles and brushed aluminum on the lower grille surround, the rear license plate surround and on the lower edge of the front fog lamps.
“The Ford global design team remembered, not so fondly, the econo-boxes of the 1970s and created the Verve concept as a vision of just how good a small car can be,” said J Mays, Ford’s group vice president of Design and chief creative officer. “Verve aims to ‘right’ North American buyers’ earlier small-car experiences by offering a product that changes customers’ views of small cars from ‘cheap’ to chic – and from affordable to desirable.”
Technology takes a front seat in the Concept with electronic navigation, a dynamic sound system and in-car phone functionality featured, with controls optimized for ergonomic positioning in a center stack design modeled on the logic of a mobile phone.
The concept’s climate controls, highlighted in a lozenge shape at the midpoint of the center stack, feature large twist dials that were inspired by the sculpture found in high-quality power showers and the primary gauges – speedometer and tachometer – are uniquely framed by binocular-shaped, short tunnels of brightwork.
The center console includes a tray for a mobile phone or MP3 player as well as a large bin for a purse near the handbrake.
The Verve concept has been developed with a global product development strategy in mind and the company aims to capitalize on an expected boom in the North American small car segment over the next three years. In the U.S., it's predicted that sales of small cars will grow by 800,000, or 25 percent – to a record 3.4 million units by 2012 - and small cars and crossovers are the only vehicles with projected near-term growth in the U.S. The driving force in this market is a group of young people aged 13 to 28 years – dubbed “Millennials.” Today, this group stands 1.7 billion strong worldwide and will represent 28 percent of the total U.S. population by 2010.
“Millennials will be the defining group of customers in the future, driving all types of consumer trends,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president, Marketing and Communications. “Ford’s European-based cars are a great fit for this generation of drivers, who have grown up with the Internet and mobile phones as necessities, not luxuries – believing that bigger isn’t necessarily better, precision is everything and technology rules.”