Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

Ford is taking the minivan to a new level of diminutiveness with the unveiling of its B-Max concept at the Geneva auto show this week.

Based on the auto maker’s global B-car platform, the B-Max is just 4.3 ins. (11 cm) longer then the Fiesta hatchback yet boasts twin sliding doors.

Ford says the design exercise illustrates how its kinetic design language, meant to convey movement, can be translated into a “unique new vehicle format.”

The auto maker says the most significant aspect of the B-Max’s design is its lack of B-pillars. Instead, the vehicle boasts Ford’s new “B-pillar door concept,” which it says will lead to new levels of convenience and flexibility in small cars.

The new body design eliminates the traditional B-pillar structure at the trailing edge of the front door, which connects the roof to the floor. Instead, the body side features an integrated B-pillar and access to the interior is via a conventional front door or the rear sliding door, each of which can open independently. Despite the lack of a conventional B-pillar, Ford says engineers have ensured the B-Max delivers topnotch levels of crash protection.

To meet the required performance in side impacts, the structure of both the front and rear doors has been strengthened with ultra-high-strength steel in load-bearing areas, which Ford says makes the door frames work together to absorb energy like a “virtual B-pillar.”

The B-Max is powered by a low-emissions 1.0L 3-cyl. version of Ford’s direct-injection turbocharged EcoBoost engine line equipped with the auto maker’s patented Auto-Start-Stop system.

Ford does not disclose power ratings for the 3-cyl. EcoBoost mill, but notes it “represents the next addition to the global family of EcoBoost engines.”