Ford pulled the wraps off a new Edge Concept crossover vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. It is said to offer strong hints at the technology, design and premium craftsmanship that will define the company’s next global utility vehicles.
That global reference suggests that the next-generation Edge or its variants may also be sold in markets outside of North America for the first time. That new Edge, expected to arrive in late 2014 as a 2015 model, is also expected to be built at Ford of Canada's Oakville, Ontario assembly plant, as is the current model.
Ford announced in September that it is making a $700-million investment in the Oakville facility to make it one of the most competitive and advanced global manufacturing plants in the country. That work is scheduled to be complete in fall 2014.
While the appearance of the Edge concept is an evolutionary step from the current first-generation model, it takes a big step in terms of technology. It features advanced, automated driving technologies such as self-parking and obstacle avoidance systems, now under development by Ford, which preview a future of semi- and fully autonomous driving options.
The self-parking technologies include a push-button and remote-operated feature that can be used from either inside or outside the vehicle. "The next-generation Edge – previewed in the Ford Edge Concept – will... appeal to customers around the globe," said Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of The Americas, Ford Motor Company.
Key attributes of the Edge Concept, which include a sporty appearance, capability, fuel efficiencyand technology that assists the driver, – are in line with what customers value around the world, according to the company.
Utility vehicle sales are on a growth trajectory all over the world, having increased by 45% percent between 2007 and 2012. The utility segment now accounts for more than 17% of the global automotive market and it is expected to keep growing, by more than 100% from 2012 to 2017, in China.
To aid the fuel efficiency of its next-generation EcoBoost engine, with start-stop technology, the Edge Concept has a new high-tech application of Active Grille Shutters. The shutters automatically open and close to maintain ideal engine operating temperature and maximize aerodynamic efficiency. When activated, a panel slips down from above, then two more move into place, appearing as if they radiate from the Ford oval.
To improve efficiency further, air curtains positioned on the lower part of the fascia, along with specific ducting, are designed to guide air from the front of the vehicle, out through the front wheel wells and down the vehicle side.
The interior of the Concept is open and airy, with a premium execution that includes ample use of leather and bright-work and a centre-stack with10-inch touch-screen display and premium mechanical switchgear.