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First look: Hydrogen fuel-cell Ford borrows caravan cues

Future shock: The Airstream adopts features from the “silver bullet” caravans of the same name.

Ford has stepped into the future with its new Airstream concept van

8 Jan 2007

FORD and Airstream - the North American caravan people - have teamed up to deliver a futuristic crossover concept called, not surprisingly, the Airstream.

Looking like a cross between a caravan and an all-wheel drive crossover, the Airstream is powered by a new plug-in hydrogen hybrid fuel cell developed by Ballard – called HySeries Drive – that operates under electric power at all times and delivers the combined fuel figure of 5.4L/100km.

In pure electric mode, it can travel 45km before the fuel cell begins operating to recharge the vehicle’s 336-volt lithium-ion battery pack.

With the hydrogen-powered fuel cell, the range increases another 450km for a total of 495km.

This advanced fuel cell system is half the weight and cost of today’s fuel cells and could be in production within a few years.

The sleek, silver Airstream was designed to captures the sense of adventure conveyed in American aircraft, spacecraft and the streamlined shape of the Airstream caravans.

It has aircraft-inspired design language, unique reflective paint and 12 ceremonial rivets, which pay homage to Airstream’s iconic construction.

The concept’s bold, futuristic front-end explores a new look for Ford, encapsulating the single-surface grille and blended headlights with bold orange-trimmed windows.

The doors are asymmetric as well, allowing for easy loading of passengers and cargo.

In addition to the driver’s side hatch, the passenger side features a power clamshell door that runs two-thirds the length of the vehicle. A three-door hatch finishes the rear of the crossover.

Inside there’s a floating instrument panel with flush-mounted, touch-sensitive controls and a multi-function single gauge display.

In the back, there is lounge-like seating as well as a 360-degree screen for entertainment and games.

The screen also creates ambient mood settings, including a modern lava lamp and virtual fire, as well as a live camera feed.

At 4699mm long, the Airstream is 157mm shorter than a Ford Territory but sits on a 355mm longer wheelbase of 3197mm. It is 2004mm wide and 1793mm high.

There are no plans to put the Airstream into production but some of the styling cues could pop up on future Fords.

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