One of the biggest disappointments for me at the New York Auto Show was the utter lack of clever concept cars. There was a time when all the automakers were putting forth outrageous, impossible concepts, just because. But everybody has had to tighten their belts a few notches due to the global recession, and the concept cars have, quite frankly, gotten boring.
Leave it to Ford to debut an exciting concept… in China. Unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show, Ford introduced a new concept car called the “Start,” the only aspect of this concept ever destined for production is the three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. But it is still rather pretty.
The Ford Start is a “the first concept car created by Ford in three years.” In other words, since the recession started Ford hasn’t delivered a single “could-be” car. And the Start isn’t intended for production at all; rather, it is really just a “design study” though Ford claims otherwise. The Start is Ford’s first foray into the city car market in Asia. It already has the diminutive Ka for sale in Europe, but Asia still needs a mini car of its own
The Start concept features MyFord Mobile concept technology, which like the MyFord Touch system, allows the driver to interface with the car via a six-inch LCD screen for things such as heat, air conditioning, and engine diagnostics. You can even insert a phone into a special jack that turns your car into a four-wheeled phone. Pretty cool stuff.
But the biggest news is the three-cylinder, 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine. This is likely the only part destined to see production soon, though the MyFord Touch is likely to be integrated eventually too. The rest of the car… I like how it looks, but it is unlikely to be anything more than a concept. Backing the engine (which makes an unknown amount of horsepower or torque ratings) is another of Ford’s six-speed automatic transmissions. If this car were real, it’d likely deliver fuel economy close to Prius levels… or better. I’d like to see some of the design features, like the headlights, translate over to actual cars too, but I won’t hold my breath.
You can read the press release on the next page.