Frankfurt Motor Show: Ford's New C-Max and Grand C-Max

Posted by: David Kiley on September 14, 2009

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Frankfurt—Ford Motor Co. today said today that it is not only showing the new Ford C-Max, which will go on sale in Europe next year, but a second all-new design, the Grand C-Max (pictured above), which will be sold in Europe and other markets, including North America, in 2011.

The new C-Max, the original design of which launched with great success in Europe in 2003, looks very much like the big sibling of the Ford Fiesta. Pursuing Ford’s kinetic design scheme, the five passenger C-Max has a muscular, almost chiseled look, but comes across as the nimble utility runabout that it is.

The news for the U.S. though, is the addition of the Grand C-Max to the lineup in 2011. The regular five-door C-Max may not come, because when the new Focus arrives in the U.S. next year it will have a five- door version that is probably too close to the C-Max in price and package.

The Grand C-Max, though, is a longer and slightly taller version of the C-Max, also built off the new global Focus vehicle platform. It has three rows of seats, and seats seven. It also has two rear-sliding doors, but without the slab-side appearance of a minivan.

In fact, you will never see the word “minivan” used around the C-Max, whiich is billed as a “multi-activity-vehicle,” or MAV.

Ford has been out of the minivan business since discontinuing the Freestar minivan in 2007. But many families, especially those with just one or two kids, like the sliding door for getting kids in and out of carseats in cramped parking lots.

It’s a conundrum for vehicle designers and engineers. Sliding doors signify “minivan,” but lots of people like the sliders for parking lots. Just try and get a two year old not yet walking in and out of a backseat carseat through a conventional hinged door in a Whole Foods or Kroger parking lot. Ford thinks it has licked the problem by choosing a smaller vehicle and maintaining an almost SUV-style shape and body accents.

There isn’t much room behind the third seat when it is in use, based on the photos made available. But Ford says there is enough for a few pieces of luggage, a stroller and the like.

The real selling point of the Grand-C-Max, Ford believes, is the versatility in a smaller, more fuel efficient package. People with large families are still going to opt for minivans and SUVs. But there is a trend in the U.S., as well as Europe, to smaller one and two child families. And Ford’s global product boss Derrick Kuzak said Ford designed the Grand C-Max specifically to offer utility, versatility and the sliding door, “without resorting to the vehicle looking like a refrigerator on wheels.”

With Ford, there is always a little confusion over model names. And this is no exception. Since the C-Max is not coming to the U.S., Ford says it will call the seven-passenger vehicle that is selling as Grand C-Max in Europe just “C-Max” in the U.S.

Today, U.S. competitors for the seven-passenger C-Max would include the Mazda5 and Kia Rondo. The Chevrolet Orlando will arrive in 2011.

Ford said 10 models will be created off the new Focus platform for North America. Besides the U.S. version of the C-Max, they include four- and five-door versions of the Focus, the electric Focus model, the next generation Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner, and a Mercury sedan. Three other models are under consideration. The gasoline-powered Focus models will debut in late 2010, while the other models will debut later.

Reader Comments

Sapience

September 15, 2009 3:25 AM

I like it .I want to drive car.The news for the U.S.though.Is the addition of the Grand c-Max to the lineup in the lineup.

herault

September 15, 2009 6:12 AM

The FORD family continues to grow in all the right places. The strategy is global with FORD Germany playing a pivotal role in this ressurrection. Americans want European quality cars and FORD will deliver on that front. The other question is whether the New GM USA re-floats by cutting its dependence on GM-OPEL Germany for smaller more efficent cars.
Toyota must be worried about FORD and its classy stable of European champions.

CHAOs

September 15, 2009 8:12 AM

Grand C-Max should come to USA...what a great package--sliding door, seating for 7 and eco. I would love to trade down from my DODGE Caravan to this. FORD SHOULD HAVE HAD THE FIESTA HERE BY NOW AND CAPITALIZED ON THE CASH FOR CLUNKERS--another missed opportunity.

GM should have launched the SPARK, TRAX, GROOVE as well in the USA (all three MICRO/SUV cars with 1-1.5 litre engines). TOO LITTLE TOO LATE (AGAIN).

Arnault V

September 15, 2009 12:47 PM

This is an exciting time for Ford, despite the carnage of the domestic NA market. Ford, more than the other big three, has built a thriving business in Europe based on organic designs (unlike GM with Opel and Vauxhall for example--wholly owned by not organic to the brand).

Getting hot Euro-spec cars to the NA market has, for some reason, been difficult. Whether it is based on customer tastes (Americans do not buy hatchbacks in quantity) or regulation issues (crash testing, emissions-spec), it is simply harder to get category killers from Europe to NA.

A diesel-spec C-Max would be great to see in NA. The low-end torque of modern common rail diesels, combined with the reliability, economy, and excellent emissions profile could combine to create a category killer.

I agree with CHAOs that the Fiesta should have been here now (though it is already here as part of a pilot programme called the 'Fiesta movement'). However, the really hot Fiesta has an enormously expensive Cosworth diesel that will likely price it out of the same demographics that contribute to market share. Ford seems to be leaning in the direction of capturing margins versus market share--a risky proposition long term, but one that should keep the creditors at bay in the near term. And that might be as much as we can reasonably expect from them for now.

Dolly

September 20, 2009 10:18 PM

I'm waiting anxiously here in Canada for the arrival of the Grand CMAX. The time has come for me to get a new car (11 yrs.), but I can't find anything that suits my needs. I have been a Toyota owner for many years, but they don't have what I need and salesmen tried to make me believe that the Matrix is a station wagon. Toyota easily could have brought the European Fielder SW or the Brasilean model both based on the Corolla, instead brought the Venza. This CMAX seems perfect. I hope the 3rd row folds completly FLAT, unlike the Mazda 5. I need to carry 2 toddlers and 3 medium-large sizes dogs. The sliding doors sound great and very convenient. Minivans are too big for everyday driving. Hopefully Ford will make them RELIABLE.

BRING THEM TO CANADA!!!!

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