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Ford pins hopes on C-Max

Carmaker bills family hauler as hip alternative to full-size minivan

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Dearborn— Ford Motor Co. wants to make a compact minivan a hip family vehicle in the United States.

At the 2011 North American International Auto Show next month, the automaker will showcase the Ford C-Max, which is based on the Focus compact car and could go on sale in North America late next year.

The C-Max, with sliding doors and room for seven passengers, offers a smaller, more fuel-efficient alternative to a full-size minivan for buyers with young families, said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's head of global product planning.

The C-Max is part of Ford's global small vehicle strategy, which includes developing at least 10 models based on the platform that underpins the Focus and selling 2 million vehicles annually by 2012. Small cars are a cornerstone of Ford's growth plans.

One in four new vehicles are compact, and that figure will grow to 28 percent by 2014, making this one of the industry's biggest growth opportunities, said Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas.

One in six of those buyers also will buy a small crossover, Fields said.

The C-Max also puts Ford back in the minivan market, but in a niche where the only competitor is the Mazda5. "It's the next generation of people mover," said Dave Sullivan, a product analyst for AutoPacific in Troy.

"It is the first sexy minivan I've seen," Sullivan said. "It is pure to its European goodness and packaged well. The seating is so versatile. I think it is a game changer."

Innovative features include a hands-free power liftgate. A driver approaching the C-Max with his arms full can open the gate by swinging his leg under the rear bumper, where sensors trigger the gate to open as long as the driver has the key fob.

The C-Max is already offered in Europe, where the seven-seater is known as the Grand C-Max and the five-passenger version is called the C-Max.

In North America, the seven-seater will be called the C-Max, but to stress the family relationship, the name may initially include Focus to build greater awareness of the link.

Pricing has not been finalized but is expected to start below other family-oriented Ford models, including the Edge, Escape, Explorer and Flex.

"The C-Max provides three rows of seating at a lower price point," Kuzak said, declining to be more specific.

With a wheelbase of 109.7 inches and overall length of 178 inches, the C-Max is about the same size as the first minivans introduced in the 1980s, said Frank Davis, Ford's vice president of product development.

Mazda5 closest competitor

The C-Max slides into a segment that the Mazda5 created when the small minivan debuted in North America in 2006.

While Mazda has sold 100,000 of the vehicles since then, consumer awareness of the Mazda5 remains low. Through November, Mazda5 sales are down almost 15 percent from the same period a year ago, to less than 15,000.

The Japanese automaker showed the next-generation six-passenger Mazda5 last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

It goes on sale next year as a 2012 model and is the final model to follow the "Nagare" design style that has marked Mazda vehicles for the past four years. The next design phase will be more muscular than the flowing lines of the past, said Robert Davis, Mazda's head of product development.

"Ford will put marketing money behind the C-Max that Mazda couldn't," AutoPacific's Sullivan said.

Jim O'Sullivan, chief executive of Mazda North American Operations, welcomes the competition.

"I'm excited about the C-Max," he said.

"I'm glad Ford will put marketing muscle behind it. It makes us both better."

Ford has long held a stake in Mazda, and the automakers have developed many families of vehicles together.

But Ford design chief J Mays said there was no sharing between the C-Max and Mazda5.

The C-Max is on based on Ford's new family of compact vehicles, while the Mazda5 is from the outgoing family.

Kia had a similar vehicle in the segment, the Rondo, which has been discontinued.

General Motors Co. planned to offer a competitor in the Chevrolet Orlando, based on its compact Chevrolet Cruze, but now plans to offer the European vehicle in Canada but not the United States.

It is not clear when the C-Max will hit the U.S. market.

When the production version of the European Grand C-Max was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show, executives said the seven-passenger vehicle would arrive in North America by the end of 2011 as a 2012 model. In May this year, Ford said the larger minivan would be built in Valencia, Spain, for export to North America in late 2011.

Last week, however, Ford officials declined to confirm when the C-Max will go on sale in North America, or where it will be built.

Mass production of the new Ford Focus, upon which the C-Max is based, begins next month at the revamped Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

New engine choice

Engine choices for the C-Max include a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder EcoBoost engine for 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque — the first time this engine will be used in a compact vehicle in North America.

Mays said Ford considered conventional doors, but opted for sliders "for third-row access."

The second-row middle seat in the C-Max stows into the seat beside it, leaving an opening for easier access to the third row.

The vehicle also has signature Ford technology including the MyFord Touch Sync system and Curve Control, which helps keep the car on line if a curve is taken too fast.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101220/AUTO01/12200327/Ford-pins-hopes-on-C-Max#ixzz18fE3r5b3

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Ford returns to minivans with compact C-Max



Ford is getting back into the minivan game with a seven-passenger vehicle called C-Max and is releasing photos of the North American version for the first time today.

Ford abandoned the minivan business in the U.S. in 2006 as sales of the practical family haulers began to sink and Ford's Freestar failed to measure up to its competitors.

Now, Ford is betting that millennials -- the generation that grew up taking family vacations in minivans during the 1980s -- are looking for a smaller, more fuel-efficient alternative to today's super-sized minivans.

"C-Max provides young families with an aspirational alternative ... one that is affordable and highly fuel efficient," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development.

Ford's timing might be good: After years of declines, minivan sales are up 9.3% this year, about the same as 2010 industry sales.

Ford isn't saying how much the C-Max will cost, but will display it at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Easy-access Ford C-Max minivan aimed at young families

Ford plans to heavily market the accessibility of a small minivan called the C-Max that heralds the automaker's return to the minivan segment for the first time since 2006.

The C-Max has two sliding side doors and a rear gate that can be unlocked and opened by activating sensors under the rear bumper.

At a media preview for journalists, Frank Davis, vice president for Ford of Europe, demonstrated the sensors by kicking the air underneath the rear bumper twice.

"With our hands-free liftgate, we simply walk up to the vehicle, and with a quick leg motion underneath the vehicle, we trigger two sensors," Davis said. "These sensors open the liftgate automatically."

The sensors will work if the vehicle's owner makes the motion and possesses the key fob.

Five seats are in the main cabin of the C-Max and two smaller, third-row seats can be folded into the floor.

"We think customers are going to love the C-Max's combined technology, convenience and functionality in such a tidy overall footprint," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development.

While Ford has sold the C-Max for several years in Europe, it hasn't sold a minivan in the U.S. since 2003.

Ford's decision to re-enter the minivan segment is part of a resurgence of investments by many automakers.

Minivan sales declined from 1.1 million in 2005 to 415,173 in 2009 as families moved to crossovers that offered as many seats as minivans but lacked the stodgy image.

But lately, minivan sales have stabilized, and automakers have taken notice. Through November, minivan sales increased 9.3% in the U.S., or slightly less than the 11.1% industry-wide sales increase.

This year, Toyota introduced a redesigned Sienna, Honda introduced a redesigned Odyssey and Nissan is launching its redesigned Quest.

"This is probably the most active minivan year we've had in a long time," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

The C-Max is built on the same platform as Ford's redesigned Focus compact sedan.

That means Ford is betting that young, American families who are part of what marketers call the millennial generation are eager to embrace a smaller minivan.

"I think what they want is the functionality and versatility that the original minivans had," said J Mays, Ford's group vice president of design.

Ford will offer the C-Max with two engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 1.6-liter turbocharged and fuel-injected engine, called EcoBoost.

Ford executives said those engines will help Ford achieve class-leading fuel economy.

However, Ford declined to reveal its fuel economy projections.

Ford also is declining to say when it plans to start selling the vehicle, where it will build it or how much it will cost.

However, Ford previously said the C-Max would go on sale by the end of 2011. In Europe, the C-Max starts at 16,745 euros, or about $22,000.



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2012 Ford C-Max Final Specs: 2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview


Last fall we brought you the first drive of the 2012 Ford C-Max, but since the vehicles we drove were European-spec vehicles, we've been waiting on word of the final U.S. specifications.

Today Ford's released those specs, starting with engine output in both the C-Max's standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder or in its 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four. Both chime in with 168 horsepower--with the catch that on premium fuel, the EcoBoost four ups its power to 180 hp. Both fours come with a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission standard. Fuel economy hasn't been released, but Ford execs say a 30-mpg highway target is intended for the EcoBoost engine.

In other U.S.-specific ways, the C-Max MPV reaches up to the buyers of bigger minivans with a rich mix of features and standard equipment. The five-plus-two seating arrangement stays, as do the twin sliding side doors and the fold-away middle-row, middle seat--it tucks away into the bottom cushion of the right-side seat to leave a walk-through for easier access to the third row. American buyers will be able to delete the third-row seat, Ford says.

As for other features, the C-Max will offer a capless fuel filler; an optional Sony audio system and SYNC Bluetooth-activated controls for the navigation system and the satellite and HD radio packages; a panormaic roof; and ambient lighting. For safety, a rearview camera and parking sensors will be offered as well as push-button start and active parking assist.

The C-Max also will offer the first U.S. application of foot-gesture opening for the tailgate, a technology first seen on Euro versions of the BMW 5-Series.

The 2012 C-Max arrives in showrooms late next year, but Ford promises more information at the 2011 Detroit auto show. Stay tuned.





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By Mark Kleis

After the European-spec Ford C-Max and Grand C-Max were unveiled in September, American consumers have had to wait until the automaker was ready to reveal the details of the North American take on this MPV.

First things first – the seven-seater (5+2) MPV you are seeing in the gallery and reading about now will be called the C-Max in North America, but it is referred to as the Grand (read: bigger) C-Max in Europe, as there is also a five-seater version, the C-Max. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to the details of the car.

For starters, the North American Ford C-Max is unique from its European counterparts in that it comes with a different powertrain lineup, as well as a new and industry-first convenience technology. If you take a peak inside, you will notice an interior that seems to blend characteristics of the North American Fiesta and upcoming 2012 Ford Focus – which shares its C-segment platform with the C-Max.

Powertrains explained

The base C-Max features a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter DOHC iVCT four-cylinder engine, which is actually already on American roads under the hood of the Ford Fusion. In the C-Max, this engine will provide for 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, and will come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission in a front-wheel drive configuration.

The premium offering comes in the form of the first application for Ford’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in North America, good for 168 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque while sipping normal 87 octane unleaded, but power boosts to 180 horsepower on premium fuel. Like the base engine, the EcoBoost comes with a six-speed automatic transmission and FWD.

Despite managing to produce over 100 horsepower per liter (even on regular fuel), the EcoBoost engine is not intended to make the C-Max a more sporty offering in this application, but more to increase fuel economy. Unfortunately, at this time Ford does not have the EPA ratings for either engine. Detailed spec sheets also reveal that the EcoBoost engine provides for a 99 lb. weight savings as well compared to the 2.5-liter engine.

Let’s talk technology

Like many of Ford’s latest offerings, the automaker has made a point to pack the C-Max with several technologies intended to make the vehicle a hub of entertainment and information, as well as convenience. As expected, both Sync and MyFord Touch will be available, as well as Sirius satellite and HD Radio. Other technologies include keyless entry and keyless push-button start/stop.

Drivers will also enjoy Ford’s Active Park Assist, which not only helps to automatically parallel park a vehicle, but also helps to identify suitable locations – but the most unique piece of technology Ford would really like you to notice in the C-Max comes not from within, but from outside the C-Max.

To be more exact, the technology is found behind and underneath in the form of two special sensors that allow anyone who has the vehicle key on their person to simply wave their foot under the rear bumper to activate a totally hands-free opening of the rear liftgate. One sensor is aimed out the rear bumper, while the other aims below the bumpers, and both must be triggered in conjunction in order to open the liftgate.

If you refer to the image gallery and video, you will notice how the woman can open the rear liftgate with two hands full of shopping bags without setting any of it down, or reaching into her pocket to push a button on a keyfob.


While a hands-free rear liftgate may not be as sexy or find as much daily use as Sync or MyFord Touch, Ford says it is a world-first, a claim that might be countered by the recently-unveiled European-market Volkswagen Passat that also features the technology.

The new C-Max will also feature Ford’s semi-automatic parallel parking technology and blind-spot detection.

Interior space and seating

When it comes to the interior of the C-Max, it is all about packaging – and this is because automakers must make efficient use of space attempting to fit a family in a C-segment car. To do this, Ford says it utilized a 5+2 seating arrangement that is ideally intended to fit five adults and two smaller passengers in the rear. Ford says it landed on the eventual configuration based on research studies and popular layouts chosen by consumers.

This MPV features twin sliding rear side doors and a new seat folding concept for second-row seats. The second-row seat is equipped with a unique mechanism that allows the middle seat position to fold quickly and easily under the right-hand seat, creating a handy walk-through space between the two outboard seats so passengers can easily access the third row, as well as two individual, bucket-like seats for the second row.

The second-row seats also have slide and recline functionality, adapting to multiple combinations of passenger seat positions and cargo capacity. Outboard second-row seats also have a tip-and-slide forward function for easy access to the third-row seats when the second row is used.

Interestingly, Ford says that consumers can opt to omit the third-row seats as a delete option, which could be appealing for those more focused on cargo than people carrying.

Trim levels

Ford hasn’t revealed the exact breakdown of trim levels or pricing for the C-Max as of yet, but we do know that this MPV will come in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. All three trim levels come standard with 17-inch wheels, while the based S comes with steel wheels and wheel covers, the SE with alloy and the SEL with premium alloy wheels.

Although Ford has not yet specified the packaging for the C-Max, there is also a panoramic roof that will at least be available on upper trim levels.

Safety, safety, safety

Although the C-Max has yet to be crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Ford believes the C-Max will be a segment leader. In Europe, the Grand C-Max received the highest possible rating of five stars from the Euro NCAP system, and recorded the highest score ever for whiplash protection.

The C-Max will come standard with AdvanceTrac with RSC (roll stability control) with Curve Control, fuel front and side airbags with smart occupant sensing technology that adjusts the airbag’s deployment based on occupant weight, size and seat belt status. There are also first-, second- and third-row safety canopy side-curtain airbags.

The C-Max will make its public debut in U.S.-spec form at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit and will go on sale later in 2011.



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Officially Official: 2012 Ford C-Max puts the 'mini' back in 'minivan'

by Steven J. Ewing (RSS feed) on Dec 20th 2010 at 12:01AM


A few days after the Paris Motor Show, we had the chance to sample the Grand C-Max, Ford's latest Euro-spec MPV destined for North American soil. Other markets around the world are ripe with these mini-minivans, but here in the States, our only C-segment MPV option is the very likable Mazda5. The long-wheelbase C-Max will drop its "Grand" nomenclature when it arrives here in North America, and the public will get its first taste of the new Ford at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Ford calls the C-Max's seating configuration a "five-plus-two," meaning that the interior is best suited for five passengers, and that the two rear seats are best used for small occupants. What's more, Ford offers a unique storage solution for the middle seat in the second row, allowing it to fold down and is stow underneath the bottom cushion of the rear passenger-side chair, creating a set of two captain's seats in the process (check out a video here). The rest of the C-Max interior is very much akin to what we've seen in the 2012 Focus, and we're quite impressed with the high-quality craftsmanship that FoMoCo is putting into its latest crop of cabins.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the 2012 C-Max is its hands-free liftgate. Much like a passive entry system for the driver's door, whoever has the C-Max's key fob on their person can simply wave their leg under the rear bumper, triggering two sensors that will open the liftgate. It's pretty slick, and Ford tells us that this technology will me making its way to the vast majority of the company's hatchback products.

The base powertrain in the C-Max is Ford's 2.5-liter inline-four also found in the Fusion. In its MPV home, this mill produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque, mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The upmarket engine is an all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost inline-four, rated at 180 hp and 173 lb-ft of twist, also mated to a six-speed 'box. The C-Max is only available with front-wheel drive, and 17-inch wheels are fitted to all three trim levels – S, SE and SEL.

We're eager to get our mitts on the U.S.-spec C-Max, and we're crossing our fingers that American car buyers will be more receptive to smaller MPVs than in the past. Check out the 2012 C-Max for yourself in the gallery below, and follow the jump for the full suite of details.


• New Ford C-MAX combines a fresh new design, flexible seating configuration for seven, outstanding craftsmanship and occupant safety and advances in driving dynamics

• Ford C-MAX offers life-enhancing technologies such as SYNC® connectivity, MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology, HD Radio™ and an industry-exclusive hands-free liftgate

• A "white space" entry representing the best features of a car and minivan, the Ford C-MAX will deliver projected best-in-class fuel economy with sporty performance and handling

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 20, 2010 – The Ford C-MAX is an all-new, affordable transportation alternative for growing, busy North American families who crave industry-first technology, flexible seating and interior space, sporty performance and best-in-class fuel economy.

"The Ford C-MAX provides still more proof of how our One Ford plan continues to deliver the high-quality, fuel-efficient products people really want," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "C-MAX is just right for customers in North America seeking stylish, flexible transportation and life-enhancing technology that comes standard."

The new C-MAX is part of Ford Motor Company's global small vehicle strategy that will deliver at least 10 vehicles – and 2 million vehicles annually – from a single C-vehicle platform by 2012.

This new compact family vehicle introduces a host of unique features including an industry-exclusive hands-free power-operated rear liftgate, versatile 5+2 seating configuration with five seats in the main cabin and two smaller seats in the third row, twin sliding doors and active park assist, an advanced new system that automatically steers the vehicle into parallel parking spaces.

Performance with fuel economy

The new C-MAX also heralds the arrival of Ford's first application of the all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost™ I-4 engine in its North American C-class vehicles, delivering a combination of responsive performance with improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions.

Developed for global applications, the lightweight, all-aluminum 1.6-liter Ford EcoBoost engine combines high-pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) to achieve fuel economy results up to 20 percent better than naturally aspirated, larger-displacement gasoline engines with a similar power output. This new engine is expected to deliver the best available highway fuel economy for a seven-passenger vehicle.

The C-MAX base engine is a proven 2.5-liter iVCT I-4, optimized for small crossover application with plenty of low-end torque. Both engines are mated to Ford's 6F35 automatic six-speed transmission with a gear ratio span allowing for responsive acceleration from rest yet fuel efficiency for around-town driving and steady cruising at speed.

"The scale and flexibility of our global new C-vehicle platform enables us to develop distinct vehicles including C-MAX," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. "It's a 'white space' vehicle here in North America – a new choice – and we believe buyers will appreciate the technology, convenience and functionality C-MAX packs into a neat package."

Stylish 5+2-seater

C-MAX has a 109.7-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 178 inches, comparatively close to the original minivans offered in North America. C-MAX delivers room for up to seven passengers or five occupants with a generous amount of cargo.

The new model will solidify its appeal to customers that value comfortable accommodation, a high seating position, versatility and a "smart-sized" package.

C-MAX has bold exterior and interior designs created using the latest evolution of Ford's kinetic design language and building on themes established in recent product introductions such as the Ford Fiesta and Focus ranges.

Maximum versatility and convenience

The seating concept and door layout for the 5+2 C-MAX was finalized after detailed research with typical family users to identify the most popular configurations.

The vehicle features twin sliding rear side doors and a clever new seat folding concept for second-row seats. The second-row seat is equipped with a unique mechanism that allows the middle seat position to fold quickly and easily under the right-hand seat, creating a handy walk-through space between the two outboard seats so passengers can easily access the third row, as well as two individual, bucket-like seats.

The second-row seats also have slide and recline functionality, adapting to multiple combinations of passenger seat positions and cargo capacity. Outboard second-row seats also have a tip-and-slide forward function for easy access to the third-row seats when the second row is used.

The third-row seats can be omitted as a delete option, for those buyers electing to forgo the 5+2 seating arrangement.

The C-MAX provides a raised "command bridge" cockpit with high-mounted gear shift and center console. The driver controls and displays incorporate available Ford SYNC® and MyFord Touch™, similar to the acclaimed layouts recently introduced in other Ford nameplates.

Dynamics and refinement

"This all-new model is set to take small crossover performance to a new level, giving drivers a class-leading combination of responsive, sporty handling, and overall refinement and quietness similar to the standard found in larger luxury vehicles," said John Davis, chief engineer for the North American C-MAX.

Key chassis technologies on C-MAX include completely new electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), optimized new designs for the Control Blade multilink rear suspension and semi-isolated front subframe and standard new torque vectoring control to further improve cornering stability and agility.

Smart technology for safety and practicality

As the first derivatives to be launched from Ford's new global C-car platform, C-MAX benefits from the introduction of an array of advanced technologies generally only found in larger, more premium vehicles.

Among these new technologies are a host of features that will add convenience and luxury for customers and their families. Key offerings include:

• Hands-free rear liftgate, an industry first: Ideal when carrying several packages, as the

C-MAX hands-free liftgate is activated by passing a leg motion under the rear bumper when the driver's key fob is in his or her pocket

• Active park assist: Helps select an appropriate parking space, calculates the trajectory and steers to properly position the vehicle. All the driver need do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals

• Speed limiter: Prevents a driver from exceeding a preset speed

• Panoramic roof: Allows for an expansive roof opening

• HD Radio™: Enables clearer radio reception with crisper sound reproduction

• Rear view camera: Enhanced visibility for safer reversing

• Intelligent Access with push-button start: The key fob unlocks C-MAX as the driver approaches, and enables key-free engine starts at the push of an instrument panel-mounted button

• Heated sideview mirrors with integrated puddle lamps: Enhance cold weather visibility

In addition, C-MAX offers popular Ford technologies and features, such as:

• Easy Fuel® (capless fuel filler): Provides a tight seal and eliminates loose-fitting or lost caps

• Sony® Audio System: Specifically tuned to C-MAX cabin acoustics for superb sound reproduction

• Ambient lighting: Accent lighting in multiple colors, illuminating footwells and cupholders to harmonize with a driver's mood

• Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control: Maintains desired temperature setting throughout C-MAX cabin

• Sirius® Satellite Radio: Offers C-MAX driver and passengers a diverse range of radio programming choices

• Front and rear parking aid sensors: Help the driver properly position the vehicle when parking

• Navigation System: Provides intuitive touch-screen operation

Safety and security

Ford C-MAX is anticipated to be a segment safety leader, having recently been awarded a Euro NCAP five star rating by this independent safety rating organization. C-MAX achieved the highest score ever recorded for whiplash protection and excelled in both adult and child occupant safety. C-MAX offers drivers and families a full complement of standard safety features, including:

• AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™) with curve control: Helps maintain consistent vehicle stability

• Dual front and side airbags with smart occupant sensor: Help fine-tune airbag deployment to occupant by size, weight and belt status

• First-, second- and third-row Safety Canopy® side-curtain airbags: Envelop passengers, helping to prevent head and upper body injury

• Tire Pressure Monitoring System: Notifies driver of inconsistent tire pressure

• Driver and passenger-side blind spot mirrors: Add visibility for blind spot areas

• Strong body architecture with extensive use of high-strength steels: Helps to add body strength and rigidity


• Ford introduces an industry-first hands-free liftgate that allows customers to quickly and easily unlock and open the rear hatch even when their hands are full

• With the key fob in the owner's possession, a gentle leg motion below the center of the rear bumper activates sensors that cue the system to unlock and raise the rear liftgate

• The hands-free liftgate will debut in the seven-passenger C-MAX crossover, being shown at the 2011 North American International Auto Show

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 20, 2010 – Gesture or motion technology employed in today's video game systems is coming to the new seven-passenger Ford C-MAX crossover, designed with families in mind.

"In the new C-MAX, customers no longer need to set their packages down or fumble to locate their keys to open the rear hatch, especially when their hands are full," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "The hands-free liftgate allows them to easily and quickly open the cargo area with one simple leg motion."

The hands-free liftgate debuts on the Ford C-MAX, which is being shown at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. The C-MAX can seat up to seven and is a popular model in Europe because of its clever combination of style, versatility and fuel efficiency.

Enabled by Intelligent Access with push-button start

The hands-free liftgate is enabled by Intelligent Access with push-button start. This technology allows customers to unlock and start their vehicles without ever having to take out the key. When the key fob is in their possession – kept in a pocket, coat, purse or briefcase – a simple pull on the door handle unlocks the vehicle. Once inside the vehicle, the driver simply holds down the brake pedal and presses the power button to start the vehicle.

In conjunction with the Intelligent Access system, there are two sensors located in the rear bumper. One detects the shin and the other detects the leg motion to enable the hands-free liftgate. The customer simply needs to possess the Intelligent Access key fob and gently wave his or her foot under the bumper to operate the feature.

Additionally, the liftgate height can be programmed or adjusted manually to meet specific customer needs.

"We recognize that the C-MAX customer usually has his or her hands full. Whether carrying packages while holding a young child's hand or carrying bags full of groceries, the hands-free liftgate will make their lives a whole lot easier," said Wendy King, C-MAX brand manager.

The combination of the system detecting the key fob and leg motion is necessary to unlock and open the liftgate and safeguards against any accidental opening.

"Animals running under the car, hitting a bump on the road or similar unintended gestures won't trigger the liftgate to open," said Michael Becker, systems engineer. "This is one smart feature."

As with other technology Ford has developed, the hands-free liftgate is a customer-focused solution, like SYNC® and EcoBoost™, which can be implemented in other vehicles around the globe.

"The arrival of the hands-free liftgate on the new C-MAX is just the beginning for this technology," said Kuzak. "Customers soon will see this same technology roll out across our broader portfolio of vehicles."



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2012 Ford C-MAX: Euro-Sourced Minivan Detailed Ahead of Detroit Show Debut



Ford is returning to the U.S. minivan market with the all-new Focus based and European developed, C-MAX, which will get its debut at the increasingly interesting North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January.

Even though Ford chose to use the C-MAX moniker for the N.A. model, the new compact family vehicle is in fact the alter-ego of the European market Grand C-MAX. The main differences between the EU-spec C-MAX and Grand C-MAX models is that the latter gets a longer wheelbase, sliding rear doors and seating for seven instead of five.

The Detroit-based automaker describes the C-MAX as a 5+2 seater, noting that it can deliver room for up to seven passengers or five occupants with a generous amount of cargo. The second row of seats is equipped with a mechanism that allows the middle seat position to fold quickly under the right-hand seat, creating a walk-through space between the two outer seats so passengers can easily access the third row, as well as two individual, bucket-like seats.

Those not interested in the 5+2 seating arrangement can omit the third row seats as a delete option.

Engine choices for North American buyers will include a base 2.5-liter four-pot and the all-new 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, both mated to Ford’s 6F35 automatic six-speed transmission.

Oddly enough, Ford has not said when it plans to sell the C-MAX in the States.



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