Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

Ford Motor Co. says its Verve concept, unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show this week, represents the “first physical evidence of the design direction for an all-new small Ford.”

The Verve will be joined by two other B-car concepts that will be unveiled later this year, including one in Asia and one in the U.S., a spokesman tells Ward’s, declining to reveal where they will be shown.

While the Verve serves as the basis for Ford’s much-anticipated global B-car, the two other concepts will express regional differences that will be applied to the production version of the car, slated to debut across the globe in the 2008-2010 timeframe.

Public reaction to the concept is critical to the ultimate design direction taken with the auto maker’s future B-car, Ford of Europe President and CEO John Fleming says at the Verve’s unveiling.

“The Ford Verve Concept is presented here in Frankfurt as a bespoke concept car to generate reactions while our production plans are taking shape,” he says. “If we get the reaction we expect, I’m certain the team will incorporate elements of this advanced design vision into our final production.”

The Verve incorporates Ford’s new “kinetic design” philosophy, which is meant to evoke the feeling of motion even while the vehicle is at a standstill, the auto maker says.

The first vehicle to feature the design philosophy was the Iosis concept car rolled out at the 2005 Frankfurt show.

The Verve was designed by a team from Ford’s studios in Dunton, U.K., and Cologne, Germany.

Ford has yet to reveal where the B-car based on the Verve will be assembled. Product chief Derrick Kuzak told Ward’s last month the high-volume car would be built at multiple plants.

However, a new facility in Nanjing, China, appears to be one production site.

“The first product out of (the Nanjing) plant will be the new B-car that we will be launching throughout the region,” John Parker, group vice president-Asia Pacific and Africa, told Ward’s in August.

As for the target audience of the upcoming B-car, Fleming says it will be “aimed at families, but, more importantly, people with sophistication. It has vitality. It sparkles. It has a verve for life.”

– with James Amend in Frankfurt

bpope@wardsauto.com