Ford Start concept | Is Ford aiming small now?

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Front shot of a Ford model at the Beijing Auto Show. A female car show model is posing to draw attention to the new Ford offering.

Does the compact Ford Start green concept car, which debuted at the Beijing Auto Show, suggest a leaning toward cute urban compacts for the American automaker? (Photo: Wikipedia)

Ford’s traditional image of big trucks, SUVs and sports cars with more muscle than economy may be changing, if the recent unveiling of the Ford Start concept at the Beijing Auto Show is any indication. The Explorer, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator chewed up the road and guzzled gas, but today’s urban car buyer wants economy. That means smaller vehicles with a focus on green, says Michigan Live.

Ford Start: Pinto for the new millennium?

Some might think that comparison would condemn the Ford Start to comedic limbo right out of the gate, but keep these things in mind: first, the Ford Start is a concept car that isn’t going into standard release; second, “new millennium” means that it will be sleek and stylish for this age, not the 1970s. And as Michigan Live puts it, “replace explosions upon impact with cool, high-tech features like a touch screen dashboard and a three-cylinder engine” and you just might have what today’s green- and safety-conscious urban consumers crave. When the ideas realized in the Ford Start are used in production of mass market vehicles, people will buy.

Mass urbanization requires a different kind of compact car

Driving a gas-guzzling tank is no longer practical. It never was responsible, at least environmentally. The Ford Start concept is small, resembling the body style of the soon-to-be-released Fiat 500, reports Michigan Live. Ford claims they had images of the classic Porsche 356 Speedster and Alfa Romeo Zagato SZ in mind during the design phase. Aside from style, the Ford Start’s eco-friendly and urban navigation features also make a big impression. Ford’s EcoBoost engine comes standard and will be an option for other Ford releases later in 2010.The Start’s economical three-cylinder engine will likely begin to appear on mass market vehicles in the near future as well.

The Ford Start isn’t just a car, it’s a smart phone with app store

Ford engineers installed a smartphone-style interface in the Ford Start, complete with ubiquitous touch screen. People are becoming increasingly used to touch screens on their smart phones, so it’s only logical that cars of the future would incorporate the same kind of technology, app store included. Internal environment functions, navigation and other features are controlled through the master panel, by touch or by voice. Thankfully, Michigan Live reports that Ford will limit the ability to send text messages. Flaming wrecks aren’t exactly green-friendly.

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