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AutoRAI 2001: the concept cars

Ford_StreetKa_2000_side.JPGGhia's StreetKa spider concept was introduced at the Turin Motorshow in 2000. It's based on the feminine Ford Ka model and is an effective attempt to make this car look more youthful and aggressive.
The original new-edge design of the Ka has been successfully resculptured by Ghia, Ford's Italian design studio, into a barchetta-like spider reminiscent of the Audi TT Roadster. It's low and wide and has a distinctive racy look.

Ford_StreetKa_2000_r3q.JPGThe StreetKa found much acclaim at it's introduction. So much so that Ford started a feasibility study of taking this car into production. Manufacture of the car shouldn't be a problem since much of the parts used are already in stock: the chassis and the 1,7 litre 4-cylinder VVC engine are borrowed from the Ford Puma (in this concept in racing trim; the engine produces 153 hp) and the body shell is a modified version of that of the Ford Ka.
Converting the standard body shell to this spider form meant that it needed structural reinforcements to remain rigid. At the front and rear of the passenger compartment aluminum bulkheads are fitted, connected by four longitudinal extruded beams which also function as concealed seat tracks. Aluminum roll-bars are fitted behind the seats, all to add to the safety and stability of the car.

If the StreetKa would be offered at an affordable price, below that of the Audi TT and BMW Z3, Ford could have a nice successful image builder amongst the younger car buyers with this plucky car.

Ford_Think_City_2000.JPGHmm, what to say about Ford's T!nk City? Apparently this zero-emission vehicle is environmentally friendly and political correct. But why does it have to look like a hamper or a kitchen dustbin? Somehow Ford doesn't seem to like it either: the company name isn't even mentioned on the car. It's not a Ford, it's a T!nk (huh?).
The Th!nk City isn't really a concept anymore. It was introduced in 1998 at a show in Brussels, and based on a prototype from 1995. Already a production plant has been opened near Oslo in Norway and it's available in Scandinavia and the US will follow in due course. You could say it's a mass produced concept...

The car has a modern lightweight aluminum space frame construction, fitted with polyethylene and ABS panels (similar material as found on your plastic dustbin). It measures 300 x 160 x 156 cm (length x width x height) and weighs 939 kg including batteries. The maximum load is a mere 115 kg, so when two people should be transported with this car they'd better be skinny fashion models. The electric engine is powered by nickel-cadmium batteries and it propels the car to a blistering top speed of 90 kph. Each 85 km (!) the batteries need a recharge.
I don't know about you, but I find it quite hard to take this car seriously. It's ugly and boxy, unpractical and ineffective. You just can go back and forth to the shops between recharges. As much as I would like to save the forests, I don't th!nk this is the way to do it.

Continue the tour by clicking the arrows pointing right....

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