Ford Product-Led Transformation: 2003
Ford Motor Company each year will introduce 20 new products across its brands in North America as the backbone of the company's product-led transformation. The 2003 model year begins to deliver on that promise in a major way.
"If you look at our 100-year history, it is clear that our success always has been driven by our products and our people," says Bill Ford, Ford Motor Company chairman and chief executive officer. "Our revitalization plan is centered on products. Great products made us what we are, and they will take us where we're going in the future."
Ford continues to lead the industry in product excellence, excitement and innovation. Ford today makes the best-selling car in the world, the Ford Focus, and the best-selling truck in the world, the Ford F-Series.
For the 2003 model year, the company builds on that tradition of leadership with several major new products. Among them are:
Ford Expedition, which is rewriting the rules for full-size sport utility vehicles. It offers 27 class-exclusive and best-in-class features, including a fully independent rear suspension for improved ride and handling, available power fold-flat-into-the-floor third-row seating and class-leading safety systems.
Lincoln Navigator, which offers "more of everything" customers have come to expect from this luxury SUV. New for 2003 is a more refined driving experience that balances athleticism with a comfortable ride, industry-first features - such as power running boards, power liftgate and power fold-flat third-row seat - and a critically acclaimed interior.
The 302 horsepower Lincoln Aviator midsize SUV, which shares Navigator's interior design elements, including rich leather, burl walnut, satin-nickel trim and white LED lighting. It also offers best-in-class towing and features a fold-flat third-row seat with best-in-class roominess.
Mercury Marauder, which delivers 302 horsepower in a 1960s-era American muscle car with contemporary driving dynamics, comfort, safety and low emissions.
Ford Mustang Mach 1, reminiscent of one of the classic Mustangs. It features a "Shaker Hood," performance-tuned handling and braking and 300-plus horsepower. Only 6,500 will be built.
Ford SVT Mustang Cobra, the hottest Mustang ever, with independent rear suspension, 390 horsepower and 390 foot-pounds of torque.
Ford SVT Focus five-door, an expansion of the 170-horsepower SVT Focus three-door from last year. It features sporting suspension and tuning, sharp steering and overall performance upgrades that make it an outstanding value. The five-door model melds the performance and technology of the three-door SVT Focus with the utility and versatility of the popular Focus ZX5.
Lincoln LS is updated with more powerful, refined and fuel-efficient V-6 and V-8 engines, a quieter, more luxurious cabin with substantially more stowage and a host of available new features, including a DVD-driven navigation system and THX(tm) audio system. (Information about the 2003 Lincoln LS is embargoed until Aug. 27.)
Ford also builds on its technical leadership with several new innovations - many that deliver on the company's "Cleaner, Safer, Sooner" pledge. That commitment embodies several of Ford Motor Company's main goals: reducing the impact on the environment during the entire life cycles of vehicles; continuously improving on the already strong safety performance of Ford Motor Company cars and trucks; and taking these actions as soon as possible - often before required - while delivering products with exceptional technology, quality and design.
"We will apply innovative technology to our core business to differentiate ourselves and make our products irresistible to our customers and beneficial to society," Bill Ford explains. "New technologies - such as advancements in cleaner, more fuel-efficient and safer vehicles across our lineup - will help us achieve financial success while making real and substantial contributions to society, the environment and safety."
SUV Leadership Continues
Demand for vehicles that provide consumers with flexibility and value is expected to remain very strong this model year. Sport utility vehicles, as a result, will remain popular in meeting both needs.
Ford Motor Company continues to be a dominant force in the SUV segment. In North America, the company has expanded or replaced its entire SUV lineup during the past four model years. New or major-changed vehicles include: 2003 - Ford Expedition, Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Navigator; 2002 - Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer; 2001 - Ford Escape, Ford Explorer Sport, Ford Explorer Sport Trac; and 2000 - Ford Excursion.
As the SUV evolves in the future, Ford is studying the aging of baby boomers and new buying habits of echo boomers to help plot its current and future product lineup. Among the trends Ford expects to see:
The young echo boomers are buying smaller cars and trucks, and they like to express their individuality;
Baby boomers are the most affluent segment of the population, so the market for premium brands is expected to continue growing in the coming years.
Both generations are showing an affinity for "crossover vehicles" - products that blur the lines between the traditional definitions of cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans.
Traditional SUV and minivan buyers are demanding more car-like features, such as improved ride and handling, which Ford has introduced throughout its SUV lineup.
Passenger car customers, in turn, are demanding more utility features like those found on light trucks, such as all-wheel drive and command-seating positions.
Ford remains dedicated to its customers and the SUV segment by introducing new vehicles that address consumer trends. In addition to the three new SUVs Ford will introduce for the 2003 model year, the company will introduce the all-new Ford CrossTrainer in 2004. It will be the industry's first purpose-built crossover.
Interiors Become More Important
While vehicle exteriors continue to attract buyers, interiors are becoming equally or even more important on a buyer's wish list, according to the latest customer trends.
"Investing in interiors is money well spent, because it's one of the few remaining points of differentiation among cars, trucks and SUVs," says J Mays, Ford Motor Company's vice president of Design. "By and large, automakers use the same key technologies and offer the same types of vehicles, but it's still possible to set your products apart with better materials, greater use of leather, wood and titanium finishes and more attention to detail."
Ford designers recognize that people spend a great deal more time inside their vehicles than they do standing outside looking at them. They also spend more time using the knobs and gripping the wheel. These points of contact provide the customer with the most lasting impressions about a car or truck's "feel" and perceived quality.
Ford is tripling its investment in interior design and development. Among the company's recent accomplishments are:
The Ford Thunderbird was named "2002 Car Interior of the Year" by Auto Interiors magazine.
The 2003 Lincoln Navigator and 2003 Lincoln Aviator have received critical acclaim from media and consumers, as well as from competitors, for their dramatic, all-new interiors.
The next-generation Ford F-Series, being introduced in 2003, promises to raise the bar on vehicle interiors even farther.
Lincoln's design team has created a group of signature cues - real American walnut burl wood, premium leather trim, satin nickel finishes and unique white light-emitting-diode (LED) lighting - that create a luxurious and contemporary cabin environment in the 2003 Navigator and the 2003 Lincoln Aviator.
"The new Lincoln SUV interiors are great examples of how a classic design cue like the symmetrical instrument panel of the 1961 Continental can be executed in a thoroughly contemporary and unique manner," says Gerry McGovern, Lincoln Mercury Design director. "White LED lighting is a particularly effective design element because it reinforces the distinctiveness of the vehicle's interior design at night, when other elements can't be seen."
The Mercury brand also is focusing on distinct interiors in its new generation of vehicles. The 2003 Mercury Marauder is true to classic Mercury heritage with added luxury touches, such as reclining bucket seats in rich black leather trim with classic French seam stitching derived from vintage Marauders. It celebrates Mercury heritage with a modern-rendition Mercury god's head embossed into the front seat backs.
The 2003 Mercury Sable also has received significant interior upgrades. With new materials, finishes and colors, the cabin has been brightened and made more comfortable and appealing in many ways.
Two-tone cloth seats with a more pleasing pattern are now available, as is premium milled pebble leather. The leather is softer and has a better grain, providing improved feel, comfort and durability.
A new manufacturing process now is used to create more natural-looking wood grain trim parts for Sable. These hydrographic wood grain composite trim parts typically are found on more expensive vehicles. To create this more lifelike wood trim, plastic parts are dipped into a liquid tank where the wood grain is deposited on the part. In the past, a wood grain film was applied to a part.
New, higher quality leathers and fabrics also can be found in the Ford Windstar, Taurus and Focus, among others.
"Interior design is finally receiving the attention it deserves - all in an effort to please consumers," says Mays. "We believe the auto company that makes spending time in the car more pleasing for consumers ultimately will win their business."
Ford Sounds Out Vehicle Quietness
It's not only librarians who are hushing unwanted noises these days. Ford engineers are just as meticulous about quieting the environment inside the vehicle.
It's all part of Ford's fanatical attention to sound quality in vehicles - including major improvements for the 2003 model year.
"When we talk about getting back to the basics, there is nothing more fundamental than how a car sounds and performs," says Dave Payne, Ford's worldwide noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) manager. "Once we take bad sounds out, we can then let in pleasing sounds. Just like one person can ruin the movie experience by talking, bad sounds can disrupt the entire driving experience."
A recent J.D. Power and Associates vehicle acoustic study revealed a dramatic correlation between interior quietness and overall vehicle satisfaction. People who rated interior quietness "truly outstanding" also had a 95 percent satisfaction rate with their vehicle. Conversely, those who rated interior quietness "very good" - with "very good" being two marks lower than "truly outstanding" - had only 75 percent overall vehicle satisfaction.
"Our customers have spoken, and they don't want noisy cars and trucks," says Jan Valentic, Ford Motor Company's vice president of Global Marketing. "There's not one other area of the vehicle that has such a direct impact on customer satisfaction. We know the solution. Now, it's just a matter of making the right tradeoffs and leveraging one of the industry's most established and expert NVH research facilities to make quieter vehicles."
Ford sound engineers are using sophisticated devices and spending countless hours early in the development process to design vehicle components, such as the chassis, suspension and body to work together more harmoniously, thus minimizing potential NVH sources.
Assembly plants are conducting new end-of-line vibration tests to detect any annoying vibrations before a vehicle leaves a plant. New engines, such as Ford's global family of four-cylinder engines, include new design elements and features for improved smoothness.
Engineers also are using lasers to help product teams solve evasive sources of noise and vibration in prototypes. The laser quantifies vibrations, or panel velocities, to assist in determining the root problem. Ford's laser imaging experts helped to silence a driveline sound on the Harley-Davidson F-150 and helped both the Focus and Ranger teams eliminate cabin noise concerns.
Engineers also are taking advantage of some of the most advanced sound reducing technologies in the industry, including structural foam, metal-and-plastic laminated material and new damping materials that better absorb high-frequency sounds.
For example, body mounts on the all-new 2003 Ford Expedition were the subject of careful engineering innovation.
These mounts - 10 in all - isolate the passenger compartment from vibrations that reach the frame. In addition, the use of advanced sound-deadening technologies, such as structural foam and sound absorbers, were applied early in the engineering process of the 2003 Expedition, helping the SUV achieve best-in-class noise levels with a 4-decibel reduction over the previous model.
Across the entire 2003 model range, actions were taken to make Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles quieter and more pleasing, especially at highway speeds.
The 2003 Navigator uses an instrument panel that is built around a three-layer metal and plastic laminate called Silent Steel, instead of stamped steel. Silent Steel dampens sound by turning surface vibrations into heat, which is then dissipated in the panel's plastic core.
The 2003 Town Car uses laminated steel dash panels, an upgraded sound package, tuned engine air induction, powertrain hydromounts and a 25-percent increase in frame stiffness for significant improvements in powertrain and road noise. These changes resulted in a 12-percent improvement in Ford Motor Company's articulation index, which measures the ability of passengers to hear each other, at 3000 rpm.
The 2003 Focus is now nearly 2 decibels quieter on the highway, thanks to improved body sealing, a new sprayable deadener and thicker carpet underlayment.
The 2003 Taurus received additional damping in the floor and a series of quality improvement measures to reduce air leakage and cabin noise, including the use of expanding foam in the A-pillar and other body cavities and the use of new sealing material in weld access holes.
The 2003 Windstar has more aerodynamic side mirrors, B-pillar appliqués and beltline moldings to reduce wind turbulence along the sides of the vehicle. Thicker side glass (0.2 inch) is used in the front doors to reduce side wind noise. To further reduce wind noise, the team improved sealing techniques in the manufacturing facility.
NVH actions also are being launched at assembly plants. Small groups of engineers at Ford, called Affinity Teams, are targeting a prioritized list of common quality issues that could lead to customer dissatisfaction on a number of vehicle lines.
For example, a dedicated Affinity Team working on the 2003 F-150 made 75 changes to reduce peak interior noise levels by more than 5 sones. To put that into perspective, an NVH engineer's ear can typically discern a 1-sone change, while the average customer will react favorably to a 2-sone reduction.
Similarly, a team working on the Ford Focus upgraded sub-assembly bolts and fasteners to produce 24 percent fewer squeak and rattle issues with the current model versus 2001 models. In addition, the Focus improved by double digits in customer quality surveys and also ranked best in its class for wind noise and exterior trim.
Audio Systems Upgraded With Heart-Pounding Power
While improved NVH in a vehicle improves overall customer satisfaction, it also allows customers to more fully enjoy the premier sound systems debuting on new Ford products.
Ford research shows customers - especially those younger than 35 - are increasingly interested in advanced audio and multimedia technologies and want better entertainment options for their vehicles. Nearly 70 percent of the group - and 90 percent of those between the ages of 16 and 23 - are interested in purchasing a vehicle with an MP3 player.
In addition, another study recently showed that 40 percent of mid-luxury-segment customers consider themselves audiophiles.
For the 2003 model year, Ford introduces the Adrenalin Explorer Sport Trac and Ranger Wheels and Tunes, two vehicles with high-powered audio systems for music enthusiasts. The Adrenalin features a PioneerTM sound system with 484 watts of power, a custom-designed subwoofer and nine speakers. Wheels and Tunes features a set of cat-eye spoke wheels and the option of a Mach® MP3, which offers 10 hours of personalized music on one CD and "Mach® Track" quick scan or an in-dash six-CD changer.
In 2002, Edmunds.com named the Mach® sound system in the Mustang GT the best sound system in a car for less than $30,000. For 2003, the system is back to win even more awards. The Mach® 460 system includes an in-dash six-disc CD changer, eight speakers, three amplifiers and 460 watts of power. For those who really want to be heard, the Mustang GT also is available with the Mach® 1000 system, which has six amplifiers and 1,140 watts of total peak power.
In addition, Lincoln is working with THX® Certified Premium Car Audio Systems to bring high output to the 2003 Lincoln LS. The optional system significantly advances car audio the same way THX revolutionized theater sound by offering:
Ten speakers, including four high-sensitivity two-way speakers (one in each door) and two subwoofer speakers in the rear package tray
Four 50-watt amplifiers to power the door speakers and two 32-watt subwoofer amplifiers for high output without audible distortion or compression
THX customized sound optimized for all seating positions with three user-selectable modes that maximize sound for several passenger seating locations
107-dB maximum sound output, combined with undistorted output peaks in excess of 120 dB, preserves dynamic range of music under all conditions
Six-disc capacity in-dash compact disc player and AM/FM stereo receiver
In its certification process, THX focuses on the entire sound system's performance. The Lincoln LS audio system meets all THX standards, even exceeding standards in several cases.
"True audiophiles will know that a THXTM-Certified Premium Sound System is a mark of distinction for the Lincoln LS, but the sound quality will be immediately apparent to every customer," says Mike Crowley, Lincoln Group Brand Manager. "Our collaboration with THX will help Lincoln continue to differentiate itself as a premium brand."
Ford Vehicles Are Cleaner Than Ever
The new model year continues Ford Motor Company's leadership in making its vehicles cleaner than ever before through advanced emissions. Building on its "Cleaner, Safer, Sooner" pledge, three 2003 model vehicles offer industry-leading emissions levels.
A special low-emission gasoline-powered version of the popular Ford Focus will be available in 2003 in selected markets with Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) certification. In addition, the all-new 2003 Ford Expedition and 2003 Lincoln Navigator qualify as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) based on California standards - making them the cleanest-running full-size SUVs on the market.
"Achieving these new emissions standards is a major milestone for us," explains Sue Cischke, Ford's vice president of Environmental and Safety Engineering. "It builds on the leadership position we took in 1998 to voluntarily make all of our vehicles cleaner and safer - and often sooner than legislative requirements demand."
Beginning in 1998, Ford pledged to engineer all of its sport utility vehicles and Windstar minivans with Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) certification, five years before regulatory requirements. In 1999, Ford announced that it would do the same with its popular F-Series pickup trucks.
On an ongoing basis, Ford's actions prevent more than 4,250 tons of smog-forming pollutants from being released into the atmosphere each year. To earn PZEV certification, a vehicle must meet three separate criteria. First, it must have tailpipe emissions that meet the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standards. Compared with the nationwide Tier I emissions standard, the SULEV standard requires: 97 percent fewer hydrocarbon emissions, 76 percent fewer carbon monoxide emissions, 97 percent fewer NOx emissions and 90 percent fewer particulate matter emissions.
PZEV certification also requires a demonstration of "zero" gasoline evaporative emissions, virtually eliminating evaporative emissions from the vehicle's fuel system. Improvements to meet this challenging standard require upgrading practically the entire fuel, engine and evaporative emission control systems, plus the addition of several new and unique components, such as an upgraded fuel system with a new, larger-capacity steel fuel tank, which provides the added advantage of improved cruising range.
Finally, a vehicle certified as PZEV will meet these stringent requirements for an extended lifetime of 15 years or 150,000 miles. Production of the PZEV Focus is expected to make it the largest-market PZEV vehicle to date - bolstering Ford's position as an environmental leader for mainstream vehicles.
Ford has engineered a 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine in Focus to achieve the PZEV emissions certification levels. Notable changes include a new powertrain control module, new 12-hole fuel injectors, iridium tip spark plugs, a coil-on-plug ignition system, a new secondary air system, a new dual-wall exhaust manifold for rapid catalyst light-off and an additional catalyst monitoring sensor.
New Environmental Vehicles Lead Way in Fuel Economy, Emissions
Ford remains committed to continuous improvement in vehicle fuel economy to meet customer and societal needs. The company is working to achieve this without compromising the performance, safety, features and convenience needs of customers.
This model year, Ford continues its advanced research in a variety of environmental vehicles that soon will be available to customers - providing improved fuel economy, cleaner emissions and the same functional and performance benefits customers have come to expect.
When it goes on sale in late 2003, the five-passenger Escape Hybrid will deliver nearly 40 mpg in city driving without sacrificing acceleration, performance or cargo capacity.
"We're taking it through the same rigorous tests we use for our traditional trucks and SUVs," says Prabhakar Patil, chief engineer for the Escape Hybrid. "The Escape Hybrid will offer the same functionality and performance as the conventional product."
The Escape Hybrid uses a small electric motor to power it during initial start-up and when extra power is needed for passing or hill climbs, which is when a traditional gasoline engine uses the most fuel. During vehicle cruising at higher speeds - when a traditional engine is the most fuel-efficient - gasoline power is used.
The hybrid also saves fuel by recovering energy while braking, using its electric generator and traditional hydraulic brakes together to provide the braking force requested by the driver. The vehicle's advanced braking technology is the subject of 51 patent disclosures.
The fuel economy and emissions gains come without compromising any performance. The Escape Hybrid is designed to provide the same acceleration and functionality as its 201-horsepower V-6 cousin. Four-wheel drive will be available, and the Escape Hybrid will have comparable ground clearance and cargo capacity.
In addition to the fuel economy gains, the Escape Hybrid will achieve certification under California's Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) and Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV) emissions standards. It also will meet Stage IV emissions requirements in Europe before they become mandatory in the 2005 model year.
Core to the Escape Hybrid's drivetrain is its hybrid transaxle. The transaxle incorporates technology developed by Volvo and Aisin AW, a supplier of advanced transmissions. Packaged as a single unit, it houses a 65-kW permanent-magnet electric motor, a 28-kW generator, an electronic controller and a planetary gear set that directs power among the engine, electric motor, generator and the drive wheels.
Escape Hybrid's four-cylinder gasoline engine is an Atkinson-cycle variant of the base vehicle's Zetec engine. The hybrid's engine is more efficient than the traditional four-stroke powerplant, improving fuel economy by approximately 10 percent on the highway. In stop-and-go driving, when the hybrid system is most effective, fuel economy is nearly double that of the V-6 Escape.
A 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack located beneath the rear load floor stores energy recovered during braking and powers the electric motor. Since the battery is charged while braking and cruising, the Escape Hybrid does not need to be "plugged-in" like battery-electric vehicles.
Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle
The Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) is the company's most advanced environmental vehicle ever. It also is one of the industry's first "hybridized fuel cell vehicles," which means it uses two power sources - direct hydrogen power and battery electricity - to give the vehicle the range and performance of a hybrid with the outstanding fuel economy and emissions benefits of a fuel cell.
Today, the Focus FCV is part of an experimental fleet, which is helping to prove out the technology as part of the, California Fuel Cell Partnership. In all, five Focus FCVs are being produced this year for testing and demonstration - leading up to low-volume customer production by 2004.
Together, the advanced technologies of a new high-voltage battery pack, regenerative braking system and highly pressurized hydrogen storage tank give the vehicle a driving range between 160 and 200 miles. The hybrid electric power system also gives the vehicle the "off-the-light" zippiness of a more conventional sedan and a top speed governed at 80 mph.
At the heart of the Focus FCV is the Ballard Mark 902 Fuel Cell System. A fuel cell is an energy conversion device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy using hydrogen along with oxygen from the air. Water and heat are the only by-products. The electric energy from the fuel cell is then used to drive an electric traction motor.
The fuel cell stack delivers power nearly equivalent to the base Ford Focus sedan, which has 110 horsepower.
The second power source is the vehicle's advanced battery pack made up of 180 individual "D"-sized batteries packaged between the rear seat and the hydrogen fuel tank. The battery pack aids vehicle performance but cannot power the vehicle by itself.
The batteries are used during launch and assist the fuel cell system for improved drivability - providing a smoother overall drive and more power when more throttle is applied, such as when passing another vehicle.
The Focus FCV represents hundreds of technology advancements - providing unique challenges in packaging this advanced hardware.
The goal during the vehicle's development was to provide a Focus that delivers the same functionality and driving characteristics as the base model. The advanced hardware was packaged in areas that are transparent to customers - leaving comfortable interior space for four passengers, as well as enough trunk space for several bags of groceries.
Safety also has been a priority during vehicle development.
The new Focus FCV is designed to meet all federal safety standards, including crash requirements. It boasts the same outstanding occupant protection as the base Focus sedan. The Focus FCV has driver and passenger front air bags, traction control, ABS and an advanced tire pressure monitor system with sensors on each individual wheel. The car also is equipped with Ford's patented BeltMinderTM safety belt reminder system.
In addition, tremendous detail has been paid to carrying hydrogen on board. Sensors constantly monitor the fuel cell stack, trunk and the passenger compartment. If trace amounts of hydrogen are detected, the system will warn the driver. If a slightly higher level is detected, the system will transition to a limited operating strategy and then begin shutting down vehicle operations. The fuel cell engine will be as safe as conventional internal combustion engines.
Ford is testing diesel technology on passenger cars in North America through a special diesel-powered Ford Focus research vehicle.
The vehicle meets California's Ultra Low Emission Vehicle II (ULEV II) standards, set to go into effect in 2007. It also uses co-fueling of diesel and urea, an ammonia-based compound, to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to levels previously not achieved with diesel technology.
The keys to the ULEV II Diesel Focus' low emissions are a very efficient NOx reduction catalyst and a soot-trapping particulate filter. The test vehicle is designed to be an example of what could be done in the future to make diesels fully comparable to gasoline vehicles in emission control, with lower CO2 emissions and excellent fuel economy.
The ULEV II Diesel Focus uses an advanced common-rail diesel engine with refined calibration. The vehicle is powered by a 1.8-liter Ford Duratorq Turbo Diesel Common-Rail Injection (TDCi) engine, which benefits from second-generation common-rail diesel injection technology. The common-rail technology achieves quiet operation by delivering fuel in a carefully calibrated manner, thus smoothing the combustion process and reducing common diesel rattle.
The 2001 European Focus vehicle, on which the ULEV II Diesel Focus research vehicle is based, has a top speed of 120 mph and is capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in 10.7 seconds. Fuel economy and range of the vehicle are comparable to a gasoline hybrid, but with a higher continuous torque. Fuel economy is up to 30 percent higher compared to a traditional gasoline engine product.
Hydraulic Power Assist
In collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ford engineers are developing a technology that harnesses and stores energy normally lost as heat during braking and uses it to propel a truck during acceleration.
Ford calls this technology Hydraulic Power Assist (HPA). The technology currently is being tested on a heavy-duty Ford F-Series commercial truck. Ford also will test HPA technology on a pilot fleet of delivery vehicles in the near future.
The technology has the potential to deliver fuel economy improvements of 30 percent to 35 percent in stop-and-go drive cycles while reducing exhaust emissions by at least 20 percent and providing substantial improvement in vehicle acceleration times.
Electronic Throttle Control
Ford also is developing a range of technologies that improve the fuel economy of conventional gasoline engines.
Electronic throttle control (ETC) is one of the new technologies Ford will introduce as standard equipment on the 2003 Lincoln LS and the 2004 Ford Explorer.
ETC will be one factor in helping Explorer achieve improved fuel economy of approximately 5 percent. With ETC, no mechanical linkage will connect the accelerator pedal to the engine throttle. Instead, advanced engine electronics and computing provide power on demand to the driver.
A number of other technologies to be introduced on the 2004 Explorer also help improve its fuel economy by reducing friction and parasitic energy loss. These technologies include coated pistons, a torque converter upgrade, an electronic return-less fuel system, low rolling resistance tires, synthetic rear axle lubricant and an advanced exhaust gas return (EGR) system.
Ford Takes Holistic Approach to Occupant Safety
In the same way that Ford Motor Company considers its environmental impact from a broad "life-cycle" perspective, the company's approach to safety is designed to be well rounded. The company's safety leadership includes innovations in accident avoidance, crash protection and - beginning this model year - sophisticated communications to assist rescuers and medical personnel after a crash.
The emphasis Ford places on vehicle dynamics helps drivers avoid accidents in the first place. Responsive, accurate and predictable steering characteristics, coupled with powerful brakes, promote "defensive driving." Electronic traction systems, such as anti-lock brakes, traction control and Ford's AdvanceTrac(tm) electronic stability enhancement system, also can help drivers during emergency maneuvers.
New for the 2003 model year, Ford's AdvanceTracTM system now is available on the Ford Windstar, Explorer and Expedition, and Lincoln Aviator and Navigator. The system also remains available on the Ford Focus and Lincoln LS.
A next-generation electronic stability enhancement system also is being developed to provide drivers even more help in avoiding certain types of rollovers. The system will be available in the future on Ford Motor Company SUVs.
Personal Safety SystemTM
Ford has a range of comprehensive safety systems, and the company continues to make technological strides in the advancement of occupant safety.
This year, safety engineers are expanding Ford's advanced Personal Safety SystemTM by adding passenger-weight-sensing technology to the Ford Windstar, Lincoln Town Car, Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis.
Passenger seat-weight sensing, also called Occupant Classification Sensing, detects if the passenger seat is empty and then turns off the passenger air bag.
Ford led the industry in 1999 by introducing the Personal Safety SystemTM as part of the most comprehensive suite of safety technologies available in the industry.
The Personal Safety SystemTM is standard equipment on the Ford Focus, Taurus, Crown Victoria, Explorer and Expedition, the Mercury Sable, Marauder, Grand Marquis and Mountaineer, as well as on the entire Lincoln range. The system eventually will be available on all Ford Motor Company cars, trucks and SUVs.
The system combines more than a dozen technologies. Sensors collect information to determine the proximity of a driver to the steering wheel, if the driver and front seat passenger are wearing safety belts, if the passenger is a child, if the child is in a safety seat and the severity of an accident.
One of the goals of the system is to significantly reduce the number of unnecessary air bag deployments during lower-severity frontal crashes. For frontal impacts in which the safety belt provides the appropriate level of restraint, this helps reduce the potential for injuries attributed to air bag deployment.
"The government estimates that air bags save more than 1,000 lives each year," says Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Company vice president, Environmental and Safety Engineering. "Our goal at Ford is to keep enhancing the systems in our vehicles so air bags are used only when they truly provide added protection. We plan on continuing to build on our system to make it even more effective in the future."
For the future, Ford is working to expand the Personal Safety SystemTM to recognize and adapt to the "size" of front-seat passengers. Weight sensors in the vehicle seats would be able to differentiate between different sizes of occupants, as well as an empty seat, and deploy the air bag in a more optimal manner to match the occupant. The system would include adaptive tethered air bags and adaptive load limiting safety belt retractors to provide different levels of energy management for different-sized passengers.
Ford has the industry's first rollover protection system available on a mid-size sport utility vehicle. The Safety CanopyTM is designed to help reduce the risk of ejection from an SUV in the event of a rollover.
The Safety CanopyTM now is available on the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln Aviator. It deploys from the headliner if triggered by crash sensors located in the B- and C-pillars. Approximately 65 percent of the window surface area in the first two rows is covered.
A sensor monitors the vehicle's roll angle and roll rate. If the system determines that a rollover might be imminent, the Safety CanopyTM deploys and can remain inflated for several seconds.
This feature helps reduce the risk of occupant ejection, one of the leading causes of injury or death in rollovers.
Even with this technology, it is important that occupants are properly restrained - as safety restraints are the primary defense against crash-related injuries, including ejection.
Because safety belts remain the primary defense during an accident, Ford continues to invest heavily in advanced safety belt research and technologies. One result of this work is the BeltMinderTM system, which reminds drivers to buckle up.
All Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo vehicles in the United States and Canada are equipped with driver-side BeltMinderTM technology. It uses sound and a flashing icon to remind drivers to buckle up. Ford now is expanding this technology to the front passenger seat, working with the Personal Safety System(tm) and weight sensing.
Ford's BeltMinderTM system has increased belt use by 5 percentage points in Ford vehicles equipped with this technology, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which the group defines as "significant."
Minutes often make the difference between life and death in a crash situation, especially if the victims are unable to call for help themselves while precious time ticks away. What if an ambulance could be summoned to the scene and briefed on what to expect upon arrival without any action by those involved?
Ford Motor Company is assisting emergency medical personnel to make a speedier and more informed response with Ford's enhanced Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) technology. The technology recently was installed in 500 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors in the Houston area for a two-year pilot study in partnership with the Greater Harris County's 9-1-1 Emergency Network.
When a crash occurs, the system is activated by extreme changes in g-forces on the vehicle measured in three directions. Sensors measure deceleration and direction - such as frontal, rear or side - which are important factors in determining whether there might be injuries. The system also determines if air bags were deployed and which seats throughout the vehicle are occupied. Belt usage is another key factor in determining the risk of injury. Vehicle orientation and location are determined with the help of sensors and global positioning satellites.
Taurus Telematics and Safety Concept Car
To help prevent accidents, Ford researchers are busy developing the next generation of safety innovations - many of which are being demonstrated in the 2003 Ford Taurus Telematics and Safety Concept Car. This concept car provides a glimpse of how future technologies might one day help drivers master hazardous traffic situations that ordinarily could spell disaster. The concept vehicle is equipped with the following:
Radar and vision systems allow the vehicle to "see" and estimate the likelihood of potential traffic "threats" and warn the driver.
Hands-free voice system provides hands-free control of a car's entertainment system, heating and cooling and next-generation telematics.
Next-generation backup aid provides enhanced visibility while backing up under varying lighting conditions.
Rear collision warning system warns the driver of an impending accident and then activates the vehicle's belt pretensioning system to optimally position the driver for minimal injury. The oncoming vehicle is alerted by a rear-mounted light strobe system with the goal of avoiding the accident.
Traffic View side-mounted cameras greatly enhance the passenger side view to help alert the driver to pedestrians, bicycles or vehicles that are preparing to merge into the road.
Lane departure warning system is a low-light forward-facing camera that helps alert dozing drivers to changing road conditions, thereby reducing lane wandering and road departure.
NightEye vision system features a low-light color camera system to warn the driver of possible threats that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Ford uses color because it is an intuitive, easily understood real-world image.
Blind spot detection uses radar to warn the driver when a vehicle is detected in a blind spot during a lane-change maneuver.
SmartNAV, a smart navigational system that uses vehicle-to-vehicle communication, as well as incident report information from local municipalities to provide real-time traffic routing, reducing the probability of accidents and traffic congestion.
SafetyNet enables vehicle-to-vehicle communication. It allows each vehicle to know the location, direction and speed of other vehicles on the road. These data are used to engage the safety belt system and warning system during a crash.
Digital instrument cluster is reconfigurable and presents these data to the driver in a seamless fashion, allowing the driver to quickly and intuitively identify what the vehicle is telling the driver.
Child camera provides an image of a baby seated behind the driver in a rear-facing child seat. It is presented in the instrument panel for 10 seconds when activated.
Ford is the only North American automaker with a full-motion-based driving simulator, called VIRTTEX or VIRtual Test Track EXperiment. It enables valuable research on driver distraction, including information on the use of cell phones and other electronic devices in vehicles. Ford is using the technology to study the balance between customer "wants" and features in a vehicle, while minimizing driver inattention.
Preliminary results reveal that a ringing cellular phone can be more distracting to a driver than actually talking on a mobile phone while driving. Ford preliminary research also reveals interesting findings on teenage drivers.
"The goal of this study is not to take away a driver's freedom but, rather, find the least disruptive way to manage potential distractions created by cellular phones and other electronic devices making their way into vehicles," says Jeff Greenberg, a technical specialist at Ford's Scientific Research Laboratory, who is heading the study of drivers ages 16 to 65.
For example, using the VIRTTEX laboratory, Ford has uncovered some of the reasons why teenage drivers could be at higher risk than adults for distraction by cell phones and other devices:
Teen drivers don't know how to "share" attention between dialing a phone and driving. They stare at the phone until they're done, where adults constantly shift attention back and forth between the phone and the road. This makes the teens faster with gadgets but inherently less safe.
Teens have more trouble staying in their lane and driving "precisely" than adults. They are more prone to stray out of their lane when trying to do two things at once, such drivers and use a phone.
Teens don't leave enough distance between themselves and the car ahead in traffic. Safety experts say that drivers should leave at least a 2-second gap between themselves and the car in front.