Ford’s Concept Cars Come From Innovation and “Crazy Ideas”

Burbank, CA (May 7, 2007) Their work is confidential. The technology is cutting edge. The competition is fierce. The secret? Ford Motor Company’s concept cars.

At Ford’s Advanced Design Studio in Irvine, CA, designers and engineers are working together to develop new car designs that won’t be on the road for another ten years, or longer! “We work as far into the future as our imaginations can take us,” said Fairuz Jane Arabo, a color and materials designer for Ford.

Each year, Ford, along with the other car manufacturers, display their latest concept cars at auto shows around the world. In “Creating Cars,” a web documentary released today, The Futures Channel gives viewers access to the Advanced Product Creation Group at Ford to find out what goes into their innovative, seemingly futuristic, concept cars. It can take an entire year just to get the design right, and then they have to build it.

“The designer’s job is to come up with a vision for the car and we, as engineers, we try to make that vision reality. We work together with the designer,” said Ford Engineer Sven Etzelberger in the movie. “I’d say the biggest challenges in my job is to find a good balance between the best engineering solution and still making an attractive car.”

One such concept car, revealed by Ford last year, was the Reflex. The car, that incorporates sleek, aerodynamic design with extreme fuel efficiency, presented its challenges. The designers chose to incorporate unique reverse butterfly doors, reminiscent of the wings of an insect, rather than the standard, vertically hinged doors. This presented a significant engineering challenge. “We had to work with the engineer,” said Designer Tyler Blake, “So that the door wouldn’t crash into any glass as it opened.”

When it comes to designing the cars of the future, finding the balance between innovative design and workable engineering isn’t always easy. “The collaboration between designer and engineer is a very close one. It has to be from the beginning,” explained Etzelberger. “We work together with the designer. We point out the problems and then work together on a solution to overcome those problems.”

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