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Ford’s New C-Max Minivan Will Have Hands-Free Liftgate

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Ford’s new C-Max small minivan will have an exclusive feature when it goes on sale in the U.S. next fall: A hands-free liftgate.

The C-Max liftgate opens with the wave of a foot under the back of the minivan. The van will only open for the person who’s holding its key. Ford says the U.S. version of the C-Max will be the first vehicle on the market with this technology.

The C-Max marks Ford’s return to the U.S. minivan market five years after it stopped selling its last minivan, the Freestar. The C-Max has been on sale in Europe since 2003, although a seven-seat version wasn’t sold there until this year. The C-Max is built on the underpinnings of the Ford Focus, and is part of the company’s plan to build 10 Focus-based vehicles worldwide by 2012.

Ford will sell the seven-seat C-Max in the U.S., a configuration that will make it unique in the small-minivan market. The Mazda5, its closest rival in size, seats six.

Ford manages the extra body by giving the second row a middle seat that can be folded away under the right-hand seat. Customers will be able to get the third row removed if they prefer to have five seats.

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