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Order books for the new Ford B-Max moved a step closer to opening this week after bosses confirmed production would soon start in Ford's Romanian plant.

The Ford B-Max launch date, originally set for spring 2012, has been put back slightly but it is still expected to arrive in the first half of 2012.

Ford dealerships in the UK are now preparing for the introduction of the Fiesta-based people carrier, Ford's answer to the popular Vauxhall Meriva.

The new 2012 Ford B-Max was introduced as a concept car in March last year complete with clever sliding doors, Ford's familiar design language seen on the likes of the Fiesta and a frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine.

Despite it being a concept, the new B-Max is nearly production ready and only needs a few tweaks before orders open for the mini-MPV.

Features such as the lack of a B-pillar are expected to remain on the production model to aid visibility and practicality. The sliding rear doors will also be retained for the new model.

The Ford B-Max is 11cm longer than the Fiesta it is based on. Capable of seating five, it is also taller and uses a more modern design language to mirror the looks of its larger sibling, the Ford C-Max MPV.

It is expected to use the same engines used in the Ford Fiesta and this could mean a frugal 'Econetic' diesel model offering sub-100g/km of CO2 emissions and subsequently free UK road tax and exemption from the London congestion charge.

It will also come with petrol options including the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine which, says Ford, will deliver the performance of a 1.6-litre but with noticeably lower emissions and higher fuel economy.

The Ford B-Max on sale date is expected to be towards summer 2012 but orders will open in the next couple of months.
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