PAUL MCVEIGH

Ford declares door war on GM's Opel

Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Paul McVeigh is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Ford touts a "dramatic" new door concept for its new B-Max minivan. The model has no B-pillar and comes with twin sliding rear doors.

Ford says both features will make it to production and will make rear access easier for families with young children.

The door concept will give the B-Max "best-in-class access to the cabin," Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell said at a media event on Monday on the eve of the Geneva auto show's opening today.

General Motors' Opel/Vauxhall unit might dispute that. When launching its Meriva small minivan last June, Opel made a big deal of the model's rear-hinged doors -- a first in the segment. Opel says the doors make it easier to get in and out of the rear seats and also allow easier cargo storage

The B-Max will replace Ford's European-only Fusion small minivan, and it has a lot of ground to cover to catch its Opel rival.

Ford B-Max.

Last year the Meriva was the European small minivan segment leader with sales of nearly 105,000, according to market researchers JATO Dynamics. The Fusion was No. 5 with sales of nearly 37,000.

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