No conventional B-pillars for new B-Max

  • 05-Mar-2012 05:02 EST
Ford3-12 B-MAX 1.jpg

Spot the B-pillar; Ford's new B-MAX uses clever engineering to improve access to its small MPV while meeting side-impact criteria.

Ford literally opens the doors on its new Fiesta-based B-Max at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show to reveal its solution to the creation of a compact but roomy MPV.

It may have a B in its name to designate application of a B-car platform, but the new model has no regular B-pillars, its rear sliding doors (dubbed Ford Easy Access Door System) marrying up with conventionally opening front closures. The B-pillar structure is integrated into the front and rear doors instead of being part of the bodyshell per se.

Because the unconventional B-pillar approach was a major design criterion for unobstructed access to a relatively small car cabin, bodyshell engineering ingenuity played a major part in the car’s creation. Access with doors wide open is 1550 mm (61.0 in).

Ford has not released a torsional rigidity figure, but it is understood to be greater than that for the Fiesta. Totally secure latching and interlocks were vital to achieve that required stiffness and to meet side-impact requirements.

Klaus-Peter Tamm, Ford of Europe (FoE) Chief Program Engineer, said the engineering solutions for the door system are being patented. The presence of overt door runners has been minimized except for short upper sections neatly integrated with the rear three-quarter styling.

The B-Max engine choice includes Ford’s very significant, new three-cylinder gasoline 1.0-L EcoBoost producing 88 kW (118 hp), which is also fitted to the Focus and will go into other Ford models. In the B-Max it provides 4.9 L/100 km combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of 114 g/km. Fitted with a 1.6TDCi 70-kW (94-hp) turbodiesel engine, figures for the B-Max are 4.0 L/100 km and 104 g/km, respectively.

The B-Max is the first European car to offer Sync, Ford’s voice-activated in-car connectivity system, which features an emergency assistance communication alert when needed. And it is claimed to be the first vehicle in its segment to provide Active City Stop to help avoid low-speed collision with cars/obstacles ahead.

In keeping with a Ford of Europe (FoE) philosophy that harks back particularly to the first Focus in the late 1990s, drivability has been a central issue for the B-Max and chassis systems include Torque Vectoring Control. Stephen Odell, Chairman and CEO of FoE, said: “The latest Ford technologies mean the B-Max is more fun to drive, offers enhanced safety, and achieves class-leading fuel economy.”

High-strength and ultra-high-strength steels are used to help trim the car’s weight and account for some 58% of the body and door structure. Boron steel is used in major load-bearing areas. Doors are opened manually to save the weight of electric assistance motors.

The B-Max is a little over 4 m (13.1 ft) long, 110 mm (4.3 in) more than a Fiesta, and 120 mm (4.7 in) taller. A wheelbase of 2589 mm (101.9 in) is common to both. With the front passenger seat folded to create a flat floor front to rear, a 2.35 m (7.7 ft) long load can be carried.

The company expects end-users to choose the new model with its subtle occupant accessibility and packaging as an alternative to larger MPVs or wagons. Full details of interior dimensions and weights have not yet been released.

The B-MAX will go on sale in Europe in September.

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