Ford is making new steps towards technology that makes driving easier, more convenient, and most importantly, safer.
OAKVILLE, ON – There was a time where the biggest piece of technology inside a car was the motor under the bonnet. The next big advance was the introduction of the FM radio for passengers to enjoy a small bit of entertainment while moseying along. Fast forward to present day, and deciding on weather you’d like to park your car yourself, or have the car take care positioning itself into the spot all on its own effort. These days, it’s a rare sight when a production car rolls off the factory floor without some kind of digital display. Manufacturers know that we as consumers have an addiction to technology… without it, we would be lost – if the price is right, we’ll buy it.
Aside from some of the novelty items found in some vehicles, things like a hand gesture volume control, companies like Ford are making new steps towards technology that makes driving easier, more convenient, and most importantly, safer.
We we’re invited to Ford Canada headquarters to experience some of the new pieces of technology that are being integrated into the new generation lineup of Ford vehicles. The day’s events we’re focused on showcasing four instrumental pieces of technology that focus on making the driving experience more tranquil for new owners. Demonstrations kicked off with Marc Vejgman (Product Marketing Manager, Ford Canada) presenting the all-new Ford Fusion (reviewed here) V6 Sport, along with the integrated Pothole Mitigation system. This was followed by behind-the-wheel experiences of the new Pro Trailer Backup Assist on the new F-150, Perpendicular Parking assist on a Ford Fusion Plug-In Hybrid Platinum, and finally a demonstration of Ford’s new app software, FordPass.
The 2017 Ford Fusion V6 Sport is Ford’s latest iteration of the Fusion nameplate. Unlike the other variants of this car, the Sport comes with a 2.7L twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6 engine; Not only does this set the car apart from its siblings, it sets the Fusion apart from competitors as the only car in the mid-size sedan segment with a twin-turbocharged V6. Rolling with 325 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, the Fusion sport utilises a six-speed automatic transmission for a pleasurable driving experience. One can easily identify the new sport by a few minor, yet evident styling differences implemented into the model. For instance, the front grill has been converted into a black, honeycombed style grill with a chrome stipe outlining the overall shape, where at the rear, four exhaust tips present a sporty impression.
Along with a plethora of technology embedded into this new car, one key feature is found in relation to the cars suspension. Ford’s new Pothole Mitigation system softens the blow after hammering one of the small craters that often appear on our roads.
“Our new pothole mitigation technology works by actually detecting potholes and ‘catching’ the car’s wheel before it has a chance to drop all the way into the pothole.”
- Jason Michener, Ford continuously controlled damping engineering expert.
This is all made possible by the new computer controlled shock absorber system, which has 12 high-resolution sensors that monitor and adjust the dampers every two milliseconds. When the edge of a pothole is detected, the computer immediately adjusts the dampers to their stiffest settings, this is the action that “catches” the wheel before it falls deep into the pothole, thus reducing the severity of the blow. The rear wheel can react even faster, as the initial activation acts as a forewarning of the quickly approaching hazard.
Where the Fusion Sport has a pothole safety net, the new F-150 pickup trucks (reviewed here) can now be fitted with Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This allows both novice, and expert drivers with towing experience to reverse with ease and a newfound confidence. Rather than conventionally using the steering wheel to navigate the trailer behind you by turning in the opposite direction travel to which you want the trailer to go, Ford has come up with a much simpler solution.
Drivers can now activate the new system by a simple push of a button, found on a knob placed just next to the bottom-right of the steering wheel. Once the system is activated, drivers are instructed to throw the truck into reverse, let go of the steering wheel completely, and that’s where things get interesting. To control the direction of the trailer, drivers are intrusted to simply turn a previously mentioned knob with the same direction in which they wish to put the trailer, and the truck will turn accordingly.
It is important to note that braking and accelerating should still be treated as it normally would. Once a trailer has been configured into the on-board computer, it can be stored with up to nine other trailers, totalling to 10 possible trailer configurations. To configure a trailer, one must follow step-by-step instructions on placing a specialized locator sticker on the towing arm of the trailer, which is then spotted by the reverse camera. Once this is completed, it’s a simple plug-and-play operation for the driver.
Now in terms of parking, the auto industry has been graced with semi-autonomous parking assists for a few years now, aiding drivers with sliding their vehicles in to parallel parking spots – yet there has not been anything similar to help with standard parking. The engineers at Ford sought to resolve this missing link with Perpendicular Parking assist… and that they did. Just as other parking assists function, Perpendicular Parking scans for available spots when activated.
Once a spot is found, the car instructs drivers to put the car in reverse, and feather the brake so that the car can slowly move its way into position, while the on-board systems automatically steer the car into position. If at first the car is not positioned well in the spot, it will ask drivers to put it in drive so that it may straighten out, thus correcting the position and resulting in a perfect parking job.
At last, Ford has developed the ultimate mobile application for their vehicles, FordPass. The app allows owners to connect with their car unlike ever before. With over 10,000 downloads to date, the app allows users to keep a close eye on their vehicle’s status. Owners can check how much gas is in the tank, how many km’s have been driven, they can even locate their vehicle approximate location using GPS technology. The app can also performs better than standard key fobs when at a distance, with the ability to lock, unlock, and start the vehicle from any location. For convenience, a start-up schedule can be set so that the vehicle starts at a set time every day, prior to departure.
As a default setting, the vehicle will remain running for ten minutes before automatically shutting down, though this time can be extended at the user’s discretion. Of course, all of these functions are password protected, preventing any unauthorized access. This technology is currently only available on 2017 Fusion, and Escape (reviewed here) models, though there are plans to expand this technology into the entire Ford lineup as the years go on. The service is made available with the purchase of a new vehicle, for five years at no charge. After the 5-year period, owners have the option of continuing service for a fee. The fee in question is yet to be announced, but expect more information in the near future.
Ford has created impressive vehicles with even more impressive technologies that have since never been seen before. The new model lineups prove to be very attractive options in each of their respective segments, especially with the addition of these new, exclusive technologies. Something tells me that this is only the beginning of what Ford has planned for us.