|Source: Ford Motor Company|
TOUGH, URBAN, COOL: FORD SHOWS ADVENTUROUS FUSION CONCEPT
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3, 2002 – The Fusion concept, an urban adventure vehicle designed with young city dwellers in mind, foretells what Ford believes could be the next potential hot vehicle segment.
Ford is showing the Fusion concept to test consumer interest in a new niche crossover vehicle that combines car-like ride and handling, maneuverability for city driving, affordability for young people and the versatility of a SUV all in one package.
"Fusion could be part of a very hot new segment," says Jim O’Connor, Ford Division president. "We have a knack for knowing what customers want, sometimes even before they know it. Fusion could be the start of something special."
As a crossover vehicle, Fusion intentionally blurs the lines between an SUV and a car. It also underscores Ford’s plans to remain the world’s SUV leader with new vehicles and new offerings for customers.
"Fusion takes SUVs in an entirely new direction," says J Mays, Ford vice president of Design. "It’s a vehicle that thrives in the city. It’s small enough to squeeze into tight parking spaces, yet tall enough to offer the look, feel, ground clearance and ‘command-of-road’ seating position SUV drivers crave. On top of all that, it adds edgy new looks that stand out in a crowd, which is very appealing to young people."
Led by Ford’s introduction of the Explorer in 1991, the SUV segment experienced tremendous growth in the 1990s, expanding from 900,000 units in 1991 to 4 million units in 2001. Explorer has gone on to win 4.2 million U.S. customers.
The market saw another sales spike in the late 1990s after the introduction of the full-size Ford Expedition SUV. At the turn of the millennium, interest in all SUVs has continued, with a steadily growing market, especially in the small SUV sub-segment. The Ford Escape, introduced in 2000, quickly became the sales leader among small SUVs.
Today, nearly one in four new vehicle buyers purchases a SUV.
Ford’s Fusion concept displays a host of intelligent and practical new technologies designed to enhance the experience of driving, living and working in an urban environment:
The concept is derived from Ford’s critically acclaimed all-new European Fiesta and carries some of the sharp design cues that make the small car one of Europe’s best sellers. The design is characterized as "refined ruggedness." More like a stainless-steel diver’s watch than a hiker’s backpack, it features precision forms and technical accent lines, appealing to a sophisticated yet youthful taste with the wide, tall stance that identifies it as an SUV.
One quickly noticeable technical design highlight is the new bi-xenon headlamp system that provides exceptional levels of light for seeing and being seen at night. Xenon headlamps are brighter and project a wider angle of light on the road than conventional systems. Xenon light is also 2.5 times as powerful as halogen, although it uses less than two thirds of the power. Its operational color is ‘cool,’ resembling that of natural daylight. In this bi-xenon system, the high and the low beams are generated by a single source of light, providing benefits in lower energy consumption, new design possibilities, and the same color of light for both the high and low beams, which relieves the driver’s eyes of the stress of continual readjustment.
Fusion’s wheelbase is 98 inches with a 58-inch track. The Fusion is fitted with 18-inch aluminum wheels that add to its urban appeal and all-season tires that provide the performance and grip needed in adverse weather.
Fusion is a four-door, four-passenger vehicle with enough cargo space to meet the needs of the city-dweller or suburban commuter. Because the Fusion is targeted at youthful buyers, it also serves as a test-bed for the latest in consumer electronic conveniences.
Integrated navigation system
The driver and front passenger stay in touch and in-the-know with excellent controls and displays, while seated in comfortable bucket seats covered in rugged graphite twill cloth.
To meet the needs of the 21st century, an integrated navigation system was developed for the Fusion concept in cooperation with Visteon. In addition to navigation assistance and modern Internet functions, such as downloading news, pictures or music, the system offers the transfer of real-time traffic and parking information into the moving vehicle.
Additionally, the system can provide information on airline flight schedules so if a flight arrival or departure is delayed, drivers of the Ford Fusion concept will know before arriving at the airport.
Friends and family will find the rear seats are the best in the house thanks to an advanced, integrated multimedia system.
While the driver concentrates on the road and the front passenger navigates, rear-seat passengers can be entertained with movies, games, or access to the World Wide Web. With an Internet connection, a break from driving can also be turned into a productive work stop for communication with business partners, an online shopping foray, or even a videoconference opportunity.
Each rear-seat occupant can select a preferred entertainment, from DVD/video, console games or Internet browsing. Two high-resolution monitors are integrated into the rear of the front seat head restraints and can be operated independently, via remote control, or through a central control module, while headphones prevent driver distraction.
The Ford Direct-Injection, Spark-Ignition (DISI) gasoline engine
The Fusion concept is powered by Ford’s small, turbocharged Direct-Injection, Spark-Ignition (DISI) engine, which meets the needs of the young, cost-conscious buyer by combining economy and performance in an advanced, new-generation technology. It successfully applies direct-injection principles first seen on diesel engines to a small, light gasoline engine.
Ford’s turbocharged 1.1-liter three-cylinder DISI engine is derived from the 1.6-liter Zetec engine used in its small cars in Europe. The Fusion engine delivers a fun-to-drive 110 horsepower and 117 foot-pounds of torque. The engine weighs only 268 pounds.
The addition of a small turbocharger and variable cam timing (VCT) generate the performance feel of a larger displacement engine, with the benefits of excellent fuel economy – 15 percent better than a standard four cylinder gasoline engine of the same power.
Joining this smaller engine with a Ford Durashift Electronic Select Transmission (EST) increases fuel economy even further.
Ford Durashift Electronic Select Transmission (EST)
Combining the benefits of both automatic and manual gearboxes, Durashift EST features an electronic shift map adapted to the specific characteristics of direct gasoline injection and uses electronic actuation motors in shift and clutch operations. The result is between 4 and 8 percent fuel savings over a conventional automatic transmission.
The electronic shift map prevents both sudden gear changes and undesirable up- and downshifts. The system constantly monitors the power levels required for accelerating, rolling at constant speed or decelerating, then automatically selects the proper shift strategy for the situation, smoothly and with minimal interruption of power.
Ford will test-market the Fusion concept at auto shows throughout North America during 2002. While the vehicle remains a concept, it does point to the new offerings Ford is planning to remain the world’s SUV leader in the future. It also showcases the company’s abilities to use existing vehicle architectures to create cost-effective derivatives that can dramatically change the market and bring new choices to customers.