My first job for Geneva was to go to tonight’s unveiling of the Ford B-Max concept car - the company’s vision for a MPV to fit underneath the C-Max.
It’s going to happen, too. Design boss Stefan Lamm admitted to me that apart from a few details such as door handles, the show car is fundamentally what will go on sale sometime next year. And that includes the sliding doors and B-pillarless design, which is easily the B-Max’s stand out feature.
Problems inherently associated with such a format are cost, production complexity and a weakened crash structure but engineering boss Derrick Kuzak told me that the company had got round all of these issues - although company insiders admit that pricing will be at the “upper end of the scale”. So you can expect it to be slightly pricier than the Vauxhall Meriva, which is virtually the only other viable rival currently on the market.
Even so, company bosses secretly hope that the real B-Max could repeat the trick that has made the S-Max so successful: encourage new people to Ford and make them pay top dollar for the privilege.
Can it work? There’s no doubt that without those sliding doors the B-Max would probably be an unremarkable, if smart, car. But there’s no denying the playground pizzazz that they are going to bring. If the money stacks up it does deserve to be a success.
One more thing. Ford marketing types are currently wrestling with the problem of what to call the pillarless, sliding door system. They need a catchy name that instantly communicates what it is and must include the word ‘pillar’. Answers on a postcard etc.