Ford B-MAX's Easy Access Door System Explained
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That's why car manufacturers have struggled to improve this particular aspect for years and although we now have multiple types of doors, be they regular, butterfly, suicide or gullwing, most production cars still rely on the first and still the most successful version.
On the other hand, various door designs have been presented on concepts since... forever, but for some reason they got replaced by the traditional ones on their way to production.
That's not the case of the yet-to-be-released Ford B-MAX though. At least, that's what the Blue Oval promises and, as far as the market is concerned, the whole technology is supposed to see daylight in March this year when the production B-MAX is to be launched at the Geneva Auto Show.
If you remember, last year at the same Swiss motor show the Americans presented the B-MAX concept that impressed the audience with several innovations. Among them, the so-called “Easy Access Door System” that has recently received the green light to go in production.
With a pretty self-explanatory name, this new system is actually more like a mix of two different technologies used together to resolve the issues we were talking about in the introduction.
To get straight to the point, Ford's engineers have installed a typical system for the front doors, which means you can open and close them in the same manner you do on a Tata Nano, Porsche Cayenne or a Opel Insignia. The rear doors are using a sliding system, just like a traditional van, but the real innovation is actually what's between the front and the read doors.
Better said, what's NOT between the doors because Ford has removed the B pillars altogether, providing a combined aperture of no less than 1.5 meters. That's indeed impressive, but how's that possible? you may ask. We all know B pillars play a key role for safety, so doesn't that affect the overall strength of the car?
Official video that presents the new B-MAX together with the so-called Easy Access Door System
Well, Ford says no and has a pretty good explanation for it. Using hinged front doors and sliding read doors, the B-MAX has no visible pillars, because they are actually integrated into the doors completely. To make sure all passengers are on the safe side all the time, the company used an ultra-high strength steel that's five times more powerful than the traditional steel we know.
Obviously, the American car manufacturer bragged about its new technology with all kinds of statistics, proving that it made more than 1,000 computer simulations and 50 real side impact crashes to make sure everything's okay on the new B-MAX. That makes sense, especially since the company has used high-strength steel in the doors. Euro NCAP and IIHS will test it anytime soon though...
While we won't guarantee you that's entirely true, figures seem to give Ford a significant advantage when compared to the other models on the market.
Opel's Meriva, the model equipped with the so-called rear-hinged FlexDoors, was launched last year, again with a so-called “revolutionary” door opening system.
The FlexDoors can open up to a total of 84 degrees, which is quite an improvement from the standard 67 degrees of a traditional door, says Opel. In other words, Meriva's doors provide a maximum opening of 0.7 meters, while the upcoming B-MAX has more than double: 1.5 meters. Meriva still has the B pillar though...
Another good thing that adds to the great amount of space provided by the implementation of such a system is that the B-MAX will allow owners to fold flat the rear seats PLUS the front passenger seat. Which means a 2.3 meters long space lets you carry big things in a small car.
Overall, Stefan Lamm, exterior design director of Ford of Europe, said in a press release launched earlier this month that the new Easy Door Access System is more like a designer's dream for many years. And we don't really doubt it. But we won't go that far though. And we really think that's more important to see this technology applauded by customers and less by designers. They have the money, you know?
P.S.: looking forward to those EuroNCAP crash tests.
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comments written so far
On 18 June 2012 at 18:21 UTC, John Nomads said:
I think it's a little more basic than that, Ford wants to sell cars, people are getting fatter and can't fit, solution make the doors bigger.
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