DEARBORN - Last month, the 2013 Los Angeles International Auto Show served as the platform for the debut of the Ford Edge Concept, the company's vision for a sleeker, sportier, more fuel-efficient next-generation global-utility vehicle.
Various design details contributed to the overall feel of the Ford Edge Concept. @Ford recently sat down with Edge Concept Exterior Designer Kevin George to gain additional insight into the development of this new vehicle.
Q. What was challenging about designing this concept?
A. The challenge was to create a design proposal that would bring the Edge into the new Ford-brand DNA. The current production Edge has a loyal following and sells well, yet its basic image was developed before the new Ford-brand DNA was established. Edge Concept blends what’s best about today’s Edge and futures the rest.
Q. What inspired the vision behind the design of the Ford Edge Concept?
A. One factor that inspired our vision of the Edge Concept was knowing our Edge customer is evolving and will begin to see themselves as more urban, socially connected and sophisticated. It’s our responsibility to anticipate that shift and our response is Edge Concept.
We also were inspired by our belief that Edge, as it exists today, represents a perfect balance between accommodating and dominating imagery. These traits together in good balance create charisma, just as they might in a person. We want to maintain that characteristic while ensuring Edge Concept relates to its customers and surroundings.
Q. What are the most significant new design elements of the Edge Concept?
A. The current model Edge has a fantastic silhouette and it needed only a more steeply raked rear window and lightening of the lift-gate to become more modern. Edge today is sporty and muscular, but like a heavyweight boxer. It gives you a feeling of being protected. We wanted to move Edge Concept’s imagery towards being sporty, like a sprinter. This seems more appropriate for the lifestyle of our evolving customer. We did this by creating more deeply sculpted body sides and employing the lower body graphic elements to visually lift the vehicle.
The exterior retains the iconic graphic elements of today’s Edge while incorporating the surface language and technical details if the new Ford-brand DNA. For example we have incorporated the new face of Ford, the trapezoid grille, but we have retained the Edge-like three bars within it and kept the head lights attached to the grille because this is an Edge design cue.
Q. What other details can you share regarding the exterior of the concept?
A. Edge customers love our use of technology so that figures prominently in the exterior of Edge Concept. The slim headlamps are enabled by LED technology and clever packaging. The low beam function appears as two simple floating, transparent ‘L’ shaped blocks of ice. While the high beam function is created by sets of tightly packed crystal-like cubes.
The only other element is a single chrome bezel that underscores the entire width of each lamp. We have assigned three functions to this bezel. The basic assignment is to serve as a visual element defining the technical graphics of the lamp. However, the bezel is chrome plated using a partial metallization technique so that when we beam LED light into it the light passes through and the bezel becomes the daytime running lamp. We then change the color of the light to amber and fire the LEDs sequentially so that the bezel can also perform the turn indication. By having one part that performs three functions we save space and achieve our desired thin height.
We have employed LEDs again for the tail lights where a thin and wide ribbon of red acrylic glows across the lift-gate and ties both tail lamps together. A chrome frame at each end of this ribbon houses clusters of the same ice cubes from the head lights, where they serve as the stop and turn indicators (again, sequentially fired…a cue borrowed from Mustang!).
Active Grille Shutters (AGS) are not new to Ford, but as used on Edge Concept they become a transformative visual element. Grille shutters are used to manage air flow and improve fuel economy. Typically the AGS system is placed out of sight behind the grille. For Edge Concept we moved the shutters forward so that the can be seen. The system is automatically activated at higher speeds and the shutters swing into view. We created them from billet aluminum and have given them a mirrored finish in stark contrast to the black spaces they fill. It’s really fun to watch!
Q. What is unique about the interior of the concept?
A. Edge Concept’s interior Design Manager Hak Soo Ha has created a concept for the interior that he calls “the Dynamic Sanctuary.” The dynamic qualities of the exterior have been repeated on the interior and those forms have then been covered in premium materials. The instrument panel is leather wrapped and hand stitched. The vent bezels and switchgear are trimmed in brushed aluminum and tie in to the Copper Flame exterior color by incorporating brushed copper accents. Carbon fiber accent panels used throughout the interior even have copper wire woven through the mesh. All of this happens beneath an expansive glass roof to reinforce the open and airy feeling.