The Ford Reflex proves that small cars can be bold, American and innovative. The sporty concept is expected to be an auto show star, reflecting a growing and important "small is big" trend in America.
Reflex is a technological showcase with its advanced diesel-electric hybrid engine - delivering up to 65 miles per gallon - solar panels, flexible interior made from synthetic and regenerated materials, and such advanced safety features as inflatable safety belts in the rear.
The concept underscores Ford's intent to offer bold, American designs regardless of vehicle size.
"From consumer electronics to urban dwellings, small is becoming big in America," says Peter Horbury, executive director, North American Design. "The bold and innovative design of Reflex stretches the traditional boundaries of a subcompact car. Reflex delivers the fuel economy and flexibility that Americans have come to expect."
Bold, American Design
The North American market for small vehicles will grow 5 percent per year through 2008 to reach more than one-third of all cars sold.
Reflex underscores the bold, American design direction for all Ford vehicles going forward. It also is packed with Ford innovation.
"Ford Reflex is a small car that doesn't feel small," says Freeman Thomas, director, North American Strategic Design. "It is a gorgeous sporty car that delivers guilt free performance with a hybrid engine. And thanks to its innovative approach to the interior, it has space for growing families."
Reflex is set off with Ford's three-bar grille - made of high-strength anodized extruded aluminum, which is hand polished to a matte finish. The concept's shoulder line flows upward to the B-pillar and back down into the wheel arch. Reverse butterfly doors aid vehicle ingress and egress.
The vehicle's low-voltage circuitry is exposed beneath the glass roof and rear hatch, giving a clever nod to accessible technology - even as a fashion statement. The roof also features self-powered solar fans that cool the car when parked.
The Ford Reflex concept showcases exposed low-voltage circuitry on the roof glass and rear hatch.
Reflex's aggressive 20-inch wheels are polished alloy. The large diameter, narrow width and unique Michelin tire design provide low-roll resistance for improved fuel economy.
Lightweight, space-efficient materials define the interior with its innovative 2+1 backseat configuration. Mesh seat covers are transparent and sheer, offering maximum airflow for comfort and style. Unexpected colors - red and robotic white - create a sense of warmth and accessibility.
The interior of the Ford Reflex concept features lightweight inner seat frames wrapped in mesh. The white mesh fabric is offset with warm red carpeting.
The cockpit comes alive with keyless activation. At the touch of a button, the instrument cluster controls appear in a cool blue hue as organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs) switch on.
Located in the center console, touch-screen technology helps reduce driver distraction. Shift paddles that control the 6-speed semiautomatic transmission are tucked behind the steering wheel.
"The interior of Reflex is modern, with no wood and leather," says Thomas. "The color and materials challenge many of today's dark plastic interiors by offering a blend of warm and cool colors. It is a fresh approach that will inspire future trends in many industries, including fashion and home furnishings."
The back seat offers the ultimate in small-car flexibility. A second-row "love seat" can accommodate two children or one adult. With a push of a button, a divider bar raises through the seat bottom, transforming one seat into two.
Rear-seat passengers also have the luxury of watching their favorite movie on two small flat-screen monitors mounted to the lower portion of the front seatbacks. Like the front seats, the rear seats feature mesh wrapped around a lightweight inner frame.
Advanced Safety in a Small Package
Ford's experimental inflatable safety belts provide a broader contact area with the potential to spread impact forces across the chest, further reducing the chances of injury. The small, tubular-shaped inflatable bag deploys inside the shoulder belt in the event of a crash.
Reflex takes safety innovation a major step forward. Advanced safety technologies include inflatable safety belts and BeltMinder™ for backseat passengers. The inflatable safety belt helps reduce injury risk to second-row occupants. Ford's patented BeltMinder™ technology alerts the driver when second-row occupants are not buckled up.
Reflex also is equipped with side air curtains. The love seat is fitted with an integrated rear-facing child safety seat.
Understanding that the responsibilities of a parent don't end once the car starts, Reflex designers added a strategically placed "baby cam" in the headliner. From this vantage point, the driver can see streaming video images of the rear-seat occupants.
Sporty and Green
Reflex features an advanced diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system that harnesses diesel, electric and solar power. This combination of power can deliver maximum fuel economy - up to 65 mpg - without compromising performance.
The concept features an electric motor on the rear axle in addition to the hybrid propulsion system on the front axle. The rear motor provides all-wheel-drive capability, improved driving dynamics and the fuel economy benefits of a full hybrid vehicle.
The Ford Reflex concept features solar panels in the headlamps and taillamps that recharge the hybrid-electric battery pack, and solar panels in the roof that power electric fans to cool the interior while the vehicle is parked.
Reflex's energy is stored in a new-generation lithium-ion battery pack, using the same technology found in cell phones. Ford was the first manufacturer to produce an electric vehicle using this type of battery system when it introduced the electric Ford Ka research vehicle in 2000. Also contributing to Reflex's power and performance are unique headlamps and taillamps that integrate solar panels. The Ford-patented battery-charging lighting system improves fuel economy by using the sun's power to charge the on-board batteries, while capturing and reusing the daylight at night.