More stories related to 2005 NAIAS ROMEO, MI – The Mercury brand will have a chance to smarten up its image at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in January and at the same time give a sneak peak at a new cross/utility vehicle earmarked for ’07.

The Mercury Meta One CUV to bow at the show will feature a litany of scientific advances, including a number of active safety features, Priya Prasad, Ford Motor Co. technical fellow-safety research and development, says at the company’s proving grounds here.

In addition to being a scientific showcase, the vehicle will provide a glimpse of Mercury’s forthcoming Freestyle-based CUV, which Ford officials confirm is slated for production in 2006.

The Meta One also carries an advanced powertrain, details of which are being withheld by Ford until a later date.

The vehicle is not a running prototype, but a Ford spokeswoman says the auto maker hopes to have a drivable version in the future.

Mercury Meta One

For now, Ford is willing to say Meta One will boast a host of existing and advanced technologies, including a lane-departure warning system and a collision-mitigation system.

The auto maker plans to have a dynamic exhibit at the Detroit show, where attendees will have the opportunity for an “interactive experience” with the safety technology and other techno goodies.

The lane-departure system will feature a haptic front driver’s seat that vibrates when the car drifts out of the lane. If a car wanders too far left, the seat vibrates on its left side, and it vibrates on the right should the car drift too far that way.

The collision-mitigation system was developed in cooperation with Volvo Cars’ Safety Center and utilizes sensors to gauge impending frontal collision. When a crash is determined inevitable, the braking system is amplified to reduce vehicle speed by as much as 5 mph (8 km) at impact.

“Even a few miles-per-hour reduction at impact can make a difference,” Prasad says, adding that the auto maker is working far out on technologies that would extend the vehicle’s front end or push the bumper out in order to lengthen its impact zone.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com