New Ka concept expands Ford's compact offerings
Sixteen years after the launch of the original, Ford's third generation Ka has reached concept form, and will reach production next year.
The first Ka which presaged Ford's ''New Edge" design language in 1997 was built in Spain. The second Ford Ka was built as part of a joint venture deal with Fiat in Poland, using Fiat 500 hard points. Now the Ka name is moving out of European production altogether, as the third generation of the car will be made in South America.
Ford Brazil already has experience with Ford Ka, manufacturing a modified version of the first JKa design with longer overhangs from 2007.
The concept version of the model has already been created and Ford said it envisaged a robust, cleverly designed and fuel-efficient new choice for urban consumers. Previously the Ka was a three-door offering only, but this time the car starts with five doors, which is a template that better matches the kind of vehicle preferred in the current global demand for compact cars.
Ford says it also takes advantage of Ford Brazil's track record in "developing attainable vehicles built on global platforms that are within reach of the emerging class of consumers in fast-growing markets around the world."
The new Ford Ka Concept represents a new choice for entry-level urban consumers in Brazil and other key world markets.
The concept was introduced in Brazil this week by Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford to coincide with Ford South America's 100th anniversary.
The Ford Ka Concept expands Ford's portfolio of compact car offerings. The vehicle strategically positions the company to address global demand for sub-B compact vehicles, a segment that is projected to increase to approximately 6.2 million vehicles by 2017. Anticipated to grow by 35 per cent from 2012 to 2017, this compact vehicle segment would outpace the industry growth rate by 12 percentage points largely on the back of surging demand from urban consumers in developing countries.
The Ka concept is seen as a strong precursor to the new global compact car from Ford, which could launch in 2014, Brazil's World Cup year.
Ford says its designed with many features normally reserved for more expensive vehicles, offering class-leading fuel economy, a roomy interior with comfortable seating for five, best-in-class air conditioning, and a host of useful technologies such as a central docking station for mobile devices and Ford SYNC. These are amenities that are important for compact car buyers who are demanding an ever-more robust package of features at an attainable price.
So while the proposed new Ka might lack the cutesy appeal of the first two generations, it will feature the kind of rear space the previous Kas never had and indeed were never designed to offer.
"The Ford Ka Concept is aimed at customers in growth markets who want and expect more," said Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas for Ford Motor Company, who was on hand to unveil the new concept vehicle. "It [has] sleek design, clever technology, attention-to-detail quality and superb craftsmanship. It also shows the continued importance of South American Ford design and engineering capabilities to serve markets around the world."
The Ka Concept is the second vehicle developed by Ford Brazil following the highly successful EcoSport compact utility. It represents a critical entry in emerging markets such as South America and South Asia, which will jointly make up 44 per cent of the global sub-B compact vehicle segment by 2017.
From a design standpoint, the Ka Concept offers many global Ford design cues including the trapezoidal front grille and detailed surface lines, which reflect the design DNA of Ford's next generation of global vehicles. The raked hood communicates efficiency and precision, while bold, elongated headlamps add to the long, lean look of the body. Sweeping, curved lines moving from the front of the vehicle to the rear create a sense of movement. The roofline rises from the rear to the trunk lid, where a spoiler, pronounced lines and large taillamps add a strong visual element.
Ford is still coy about the appearance of its interior, but when asked about it at the Tokyo Motor Show this week a release was issued which said that it: "features a best-in-class interior design with quality craftsmanship not often found in such an attainable vehicle. Inventive features include a shoe console side stowage that complements a device-docking station that will serve as the driver's connection point to the world of mobility."
As far as engine choices are concerned, the new Ka will offer 1.5-litre four cylinder normally aspirated units as well as the EcoBoost 1.0-litre triple. Both of these units are already offered for the EcoSport car.