Ford Reflex Concept Explores Small-Car Market Potential
Reflex Introduction at 2006 NAIAS
It is said around town that Ford is considering how and when they may re-enter the (very) small-car segment, which includes cars priced from around $10,000 to $15,000 or so fully equipped. This segment is expected to see substantial growth over the next several years. These cars are smaller in size than entries like the Ford Focus or Honda Civic, and most typically wear sedan or hatchback bodystyles. Chevrolet’s Aveo, Toyota’s all-new Yaris and the defunct Echo, the Scion xA, the Hyundai Accent and Kia’s Rio are among examples of vehicles in this segment.
While the 2005 Ford SynUS concept explored the possibilities a boxy urban vehicle might provide (certainly in part inspired by the Scion xB), on the 2006 auto show circuit the concept is for a sporty small car that takes into account room for small children. Enter the Reflex. Reactions by VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) analysts are very positive.
Ford’s Bold American Styling Translated to a Small Car.
Ford’s latest design theme is well displayed on the Reflex, despite its small size. The three-bar grille is made of high-strength anodized extruded aluminum, hand polished to a matte finish for this concept property. It also features reverse-hinged butterfly doors to make it easier to get into and out of the small car. Though the car is small, Ford insists it would not feel small inside, and the strong exterior design commands the presence of a larger vehicle. Show-car flash includes a glass roof and rear hatch that expose the circuitry of the rear-axle-mounted electric motor.
The Reflex explores an advanced diesel-electric hybrid engine that relies on new-generation lithium-ion batteries as well as solar-powered headlights, and uses recycled Nike athletic shoes for sound insulation material. The transmission is a six-speed semi-automatic wtih shift paddles behind the steering wheel. An electric motor on the rear axle makes it an all-wheel-drive vehicle as it is combined with the diesel power at the front axle. Solar power is harnessed in the headlamps and taillamps, charging on-board batteries during the day and reusing that energy at night. Self-powered solar fans are also found in the roof, cooling the car when parked.
On the safety front, Ford applied the second-row BeltMinder alert for second-row seatbelt use as well as their inflatable seatbelts being introduced on several concepts this January and likely for production soon.
Though the Reflex is a sporty car, its two-plus-one seating includes a child seat as well as a baby cam in the headliner to make it easier for parents to keep an eye on a child in said seat. Further, to keep the rear passengers entertained are two flat-screen monitors on the front seatbacks for DVD playback. The rear plus-one seat is described as a love seat, suitable for two children or one adult.
Whatever direction Ford takes upon re-entering the small-car segment, the journey of concepts along the way allows the company to gauge reaction as well as explore technology that may be applied elsewhere within the company. A win-win for show attendees and for Ford Motor Company.