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Segment-Busting Ford Fairlane Concept Explores New Ways to Move People

The Ford Fairlane concept creates a new type of people-mover that explores a blend of upscale, modern design with Ford hallmarks of safety, interior spaciousness and functionality. Fairlane - a classic name that recalls the splendor of Henry Ford's estate - features a well-proportioned, purposeful stance that promotes Ford fundamentals - a spacious and flexible interior, safety leadership and confident driving character.

The Ford Fairlane concept is a six-passenger, three-row people mover with a unique shape. Its well-balanced proportions are the foundation for a modern, sophisticated design with a minivan-sized, no-compromise interior. Fairlane also features unique active lifestyle solutions like the "rolling galley" concept in the functional rear utility zone.

Fairlane features a well-defined hood, a large cabin with upright A-pillars, four side doors with low step-in height, and a rear door with an industry-leading three-way tailgate. The rear door opens to the left or right, while the upper glass section flips up. Fairlane's design blends this new shape with sophisticated elements such as the bold, three-bar grille that signifies the new face of Ford.

"The Ford Fairlane concept breaks new ground as a people mover with presence," says J Mays, group vice president of Design and chief creative officer. "This is a vehicle with the power to move people emotionally as well as physically."

"With Fairlane, we're rewriting the people mover story, offering a more upscale vehicle for American families, whether they're traveling to a concert with friends, or to the cottage for a family weekend getaway."

The exterior is defined by upright front roof pillars that stretch the people-mover concept upward, creating a minivan-size interior. The interior has three unique zones with a unifying design theme, but that serve individual needs.

The Fairlane makes use of unique materials to highlight the functionality and versatility of the interior space. Fairlane's three interior zones feature unmatched function and unique materials - including automotive firsts like maple bentwood, Lloyd Loom woven rattan made from recycled paper, and a durable woven canvas - that help separate each row by job description. The front zone is driver-focused and features great visibility, thanks to a low dash and high seating positions, as well as easy-control ergonomics. This purposeful zone is reinforced by sophisticated design elements.

Combined with the second row's breakthrough function and luxury, Fairlane appeals to families as well as empty-nesters who need passenger accommodations for nights out, or game-room flexibility while hauling friends or grandkids. Today's empty nesters are much more active than previous aging generations. They also are busier than their predecessors, caring for grandchildren or elderly parents. In fact, 40 percent of leading-edge Baby Boomers - those 55 and older - are technically empty-nesters, yet only 27 percent claim to live at home along with their spouse. Searching for flexible solutions, seven out of ten of the top vehicles purchased by Boomers are pickup trucks and SUVs.

"Fairlane's spirit is from a bygone era when families lived and worked in the city and played in the countryside," says Mays.

Upright, Upscale Exterior

The Ford Fairlane concept exterior breaks the people-mover design mold with upright front roof pillars that define a fresh new look while opening interior possibilities. The clutter-free design, solid proportions, and large wheels and tires communicate a sophistication carried through in numerous details.

The wide, horizontal front end is established by the three, stainless steel grille bars. "Henry Ford's Fair Lane estate stands out for its design detail and restraint," says Mays. "Throughout his home, you can appreciate Henry Ford's appreciation of the great outdoors and fine craftsmanship in favor of opulence. The Fairlane concept embraces that spirit in a very modern way."

This sophistication begins with three brushed stainless steel horizontal bars forming a powerful front-end appearance that is repeated in the headlamp and rear-door designs, and signals the new face of Ford.

The three bars surround the molded-in Ford oval and seamlessly extend into the headlamps for a wide, horizontal appearance accentuated by a wide air dam. This horizontal theme, absent unnecessary design cues, helps create the vehicle's unique proportion and is repeated on the sides and rear.

High-tech, light-emitting diode (LED) headlamps deliver wide, consistent lighting patterns and are encased in advanced horizontal frosted-glass covers that enhance the front-end design. The large top section houses an LED day lamp with an inset projector beam for high- and low-beam settings. The middle turn-indicator LED rests above the fog lamp that is half the size of the upper two units.

The clean body sides of the Fairlane concept communicate sophistication. The windows are flush with the body for a refined look, complemented by five side groove details in the body panels.

The "French-opening" doors reinforce the look and offer maximum access to the front and rear seating areas. The second-row power armrests automatically retract downward when the side doors are unlatched to open more room for passengers to maneuver.

"Other people movers don't offer easy access for third-row passengers," said Mays. "With the Ford Fairlane concept, we solved the dilemma and are breaking new design ground with unique center-opening doors."

The glass roof panels are wrapped in a swath of tightly woven canvas-cloth material.Nineteen-inch tires wrap ten-spoke, brushed-aluminum wheels to fill the wheel wells and accentuate Fairlane's modern design and stance. The handsome wheel treatment is carried through with similar brushed-aluminum treatments on the door handles, instrument-panel accents, the utility area and the rear door.

The rear door itself is a groundbreaking tailgater's dream, featuring a flip-down utility area with a refrigerator, cutting surface and utensils. The industry's first triple-hinged rear door opens to the left or right, and the flipglass section opens upward offering more ways to conveniently load cargo.

A single stretch of a unique, tightly woven canvas-cloth material is tightly bound to the full roof-pillar perimeter - just as fabric is stretched over a polo helmet - for a unifying halo effect surrounding the glass roof.

Interior Departments

Each of the Fairlane's three rows have been designed to meet specific functions and yet work together to meet the needs of today's consumer. The Ford Fairlane projects Ford's interior design leadership well into the future by offering the luxury of space, function and design. The three unique interior zones, like the cabin of a high-end executive aircraft, include a driver-focused front row, a passenger-friendly second row with first-class appointments, and a business-class third-row with passenger seating and a utility area for cargo or catering.

"The Fairlane concept takes Ford's interior design leadership to new levels," says Kris Tomasson, designer. "The three-zone design treatment harkens back to the 1920's glory days of American design when car and aircraft interiors were uniquely segmented to reflect home interior designs."

Each zone matches design to duty and, like rooms in a home, is tied together with a modern and purposeful design theme. An all-glass roof, similarly segmented into three zones for individual control, reinforces the spacious cabin to invite trips from city to shore.

First Row Built For Driving

The driver zone is marked by a strikingly low dash to aid visibility, finished with an oak and maple bentwood laminate derived from the furniture industry. The exposed wood-grain finish speaks to the vehicle's modernity and authenticity. This same wood finish trims the door panels, accented with brushed-aluminum window and door-lock controls, and second-row seat bolsters.

The modern, user-friendly instrument panel is wrapped in light tan leather and decked with exposed-grain bentwood. The large, circular speedometer and tachometer are trimmed in brushed aluminum and housed underneath a uniquely segmented portion of the bentwood that is subtly raised from the rest of the dash.

This wood treatment also appears on the two middle roof pillars (B and C pillars) as part of the unifying, sophisticated design theme. Two similarly styled smaller circular gauges for fuel and oil measurements flank the large gauges.

The unifying sophisticated design theme is clearly evident in the Fairlane's extensive use of wood grains in the interior instrument panel and dash.

A tasteful, two-spoke steering wheel is accented with tan leather handgrips that extend from each spoke and match the seats. The center console tunnel includes a large storage bin with a tan leather flip-up cover.

The console is trimmed with brushed aluminum that extends to the forward tunnel area - with two exposed map storage bins - and flows into a center stack with radio and climate control functions. The controls' simple, modern design keeps the dash free of clutter, while placing all necessary functions within easy reach.

Heating and cooling are supplied through an air vent that runs the entire length of the dash. Located just below the bentwood dash, this vent includes numerous directional fins that provide even distribution of air throughout the cabin.

The tan leather front-row seats offer comfort and Command Seating, thanks to a relatively high seating position and side bolsters that are rare in people movers. The front seatbacks are finished in an extremely durable woven material that helps make the transition to the second zone.

This material, being used for the first time in a vehicle, is made from recycled paper by Lloyd Loom, a home d©cor company based in the United Kingdom since 1917. The material is known for timeless elegance and sophistication, as well as its unique ability to resist scuffs and water. It also accents the door panels and second-row armrests.

First-Class Second Row

The second-row zone is the most revolutionary interior statement, taking first-class aircraft seating to new heights. Covered in a closely woven canvas like the roof perimeter, the two reclining club chair-type seats offer luxurious adult-size comfort, best-in-class reclining angles and easy, flat-folding capability for maximum cargo capacity. They also offer first-of-its-kind storage with four separate bins, one in each armrest.

The Fairlane's second row is focused on passenger comfort and convenience, with activity and storage solutions for younger occupants, and luxurious seats for larger occupants."The Fairlane's second row seats put limousine seats to shame," says Tomasson. "They are luxurious for adult passengers and game-friendly for kids."

The subtle change in seat materials helps create a unique atmosphere. The door panel and roof treatments, however, tie the zones together with the same design theme and materials selection. A roof-mounted center DVD screen and easy-to-access DVD player that slides from the rear of the center console conveniently offer the latest entertainment options.

The seatbacks are shod in a good-looking, easily washable stainless steel finish that starts the transition to the rear zone. These seats quickly and easily fold flat to open cargo space or entry space into the third-row seats.

Third Zone - Utility Player Does It All

The third row is built for maximum utility and flexibility so Fairlane can be as useful at the destination as it is on the journey. The third-zone design communicates a utilitarian space with a sophisticated, yet practical, stainless steel-finish load floor and functional elements.

The Fairlane's versatility is embodied in the industry-first, triple-action rear door opens to the left, or right, and the flipglass opens upward for convenient loading.Second- and third-row seatbacks fold flat to reveal this spacious and durable load floor that easily washes free of debris, from wet camping gear or your muddy Labradors. The industry-first triple-action rear door opens to the left or right and the flipglass opens upward for convenient loading in almost any situation. The novel upper glass section can be opened to load smaller items or to protect the prep area.

"The second- and third-row zones give you the luxury of flexibility that matches Fairlane's ability to move in and out of different settings with ease," says Tomasson. "The Fairlane allows you to be the chef at a family picnic or take your friends to the finest restaurant in the city."

The rear zone's home design theme continues with a unique all-in-one food storage and preparation area integrated into the rear door. This unique rolling galley includes a brushed stainless steel refrigerator and food preparation tray that fold down from the rear tailgate. The tray comes complete with molded-in bowls for chips and salsa.

Built-In Safety

The Fairlane, like all Ford people movers, raises the bar for safety with a long list of advanced safety technologies, such as the Safety Canopy rollover protection system and Ford's Personal Safety System with dual-deployment front air bags, energy-absorbing safety belts and load-limiting retractors.

Solid Foundation

The Ford Fairlane concept rides on an all-wheel drive version of the company's mid-size CD3 architecture, with fully independent front and rear suspensions. The Fairlane is the first CD3-based people-mover concept, demonstrating the architecture's flexibility next to its production mid-size-sedan cousins - the 2006 Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr.

This architecture will eventually be the basis for up to ten unique vehicles in North America and approximately 800,000 vehicles annually over time.

The Duratec 30 3.0-liter V-6 engine features all-aluminum construction, dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, intake Variable Cam Timing (i-VCT) and electronic throttle control. It could deliver the smooth, spirited performance, along with good fuel economy and very low emissions ratings that are enjoyed in production versions.

The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with wider ratios that allow this smaller, more fuel-efficient engine to deliver smooth, consistent shifts and great low-end torque and performance feel.