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First Look: Ford B-Max

New “people-mover” coming to Geneva Motor Show.

by on Feb.03, 2012

The B-Max is the newest - and smallest - member of Ford's growing "people-mover" line-up.

While it may have walked away from the classic – and fast-shrinking — minivan market, Ford is betting big on the growing “people-mover” niche, with an all-new offering set to make its debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The Ford B-Max will be the smallest in the fast-growing array of minivan alternatives from the Dearborn maker, slotting in beneath the C-Max, S-Max and Flex.

Geneva show-goers might get a sense of déjà vu when Ford CEO Alan Mulally lifts the covers next month.  A concept version of the Ford B-Max appeared on the PALExpo stage last year. This image offers the first look at the production version.

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Ford’s people-movers have, in general, delivered a surprising amount of room in a small package.  To further enhance the functionality of the new B-Max, the maker has removed the traditional B-Pillars between front and rear doors – they become part of the doors themselves.  With the reverse-opening latest of the rear portals that makes for a positively cavernous opening that eases the way if you’re loading in oversized cargo.


First Look: 2012 Ford B-Max

To B or not to B…

by on Feb.28, 2011

Ford European designer Stefan Lamm shows off the maker's new B-Max multi-purpose vehicle.

If Ford was hoping to make a splash with its newest microvan, the 2012 B-Max, it couldn’t have lucked into a better time to pull off the covers.

With the Mideast in turmoil and the Libyan crisis, in particular, pushing oil prices back up towards record levels, small cars are poised to become big business.  The question is just how far buyers are willing to downsize.

The new model, officials dubbed a Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or MPV, in Europe, will make its formal debut at the Geneva Motor Show, tomorrow, though Ford gave a handful of media a preview of the 2012 B-Max a day ahead of schedule.

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For those unfamiliar with industry logic, the “B-“ refers to the size of the van’s underlying platform.  It also reveals that the Ford B-Max shares its “architecture” with the subcompact Ford Fiesta, which made its return to the U.S. market last year.

But there’s a double-meaning, in that the B-Max doesn’t have the normal B-pillar.  More on that in a moment.


Opinion: Can C-Max Succeed Where Other Ford Minivans Have Failed?

Domestic maker struggled for alternative in segment increasingly dominated by imports.

by on Dec.20, 2010

Coming to America - under the Ford C-Max nameplate, the European version of this "people mover" carries a Grand C-Max badge.

More than a quarter-century after Chrysler launched the first truly mainstream minivan, Ford Motor Co. remains a company in search of its own alternative.

It’s not that Ford hasn’t tried; far from it.  It has tried repeatedly to crack a segment of the market that once generated sales of well over one million vehicles annually – most notably with the long-running Windstar.  The first time out of the box, Ford boasted that its approach offered 99 advantages over Chrysler’s competing entries, which then included such models as the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan.  But buyers would have nothing of it.

Time and again, Ford fell short, finally abandoning the classic minivan segment after the abortive Freestar fell flat.

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If you can’t dominate an existing market segment, automakers have come to believe, the best approach is to create a new segment of your own – which Ford tried, two years ago, with the introduction of the Flex “people mover.”  Flex is a solid and impressive vehicle, all the more so after you spend some time behind  the wheel.  But its long, boxy shape and the lack of sliding doors – a minivan staple – have hurt it in the market, where Flex continues to lag far behind the two current Chrysler minivan offerings, as well as the various Japanese competitors that have increasingly gained strength over the years.

But Ford will be back, even if the company does continue to stick with the term, people mover, rather than minivan, for the 2012 C-Max that it formally unveiled in Europe, earlier this year – and which will get its first American showing at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.