Issue: Aug 2005


New focus at Ford



The new Ford Focus is the product of Ford Motor Company’s Global Shared Technologies initiative. Sharing elements of its underlying architecture with the Focus C-MAX, the Volvo S40/V50 and the Mazda3, the Focus range benefits from shared engineering efficiencies while retaining its unique character and driving quality, he says.

by Ed Richardson

The new Ford Focus is the product of Ford Motor Company’s Global Shared Technologies initiative. Sharing elements of its underlying architecture with the Focus C-MAX, the Volvo S40/V50 and the Mazda3, the Focus range benefits from shared engineering efficiencies while retaining its unique character and driving quality, he says.

“We’ve moved on in terms of Ford of Europe’s design language. What the customer really appreciates is an impression of quality in the design. It’s an impression that we believe we have put into this vehicle by craftsmanship in design engineering throughout the exterior and interior, led by the distinctive, almost coupe profile of the three- and five-door models,” says Chris Bird, director of design, Ford of Europe Driving environment

"With the new car, we placed a great deal of importance on delivering a premium quality driving environment. From the "cockpit" driving position, the "flow-through" instrument panel to the console design and the selective use of high quality materials, the goal was consistent: to give the driver an environment that communicated the Focus DNA," says Adrian Whittle, Ford Focus chief programme engineer.

Sights, sounds, colours and textures all play a part in delivering the new range’s interior refinements. Rich, bright blue is a new interior environment feature on Sport and Titanium models. Combined with medium light colour in the lower half of the interior, the blue tone gives the Focus interior a warm and airy feel. Black remains an option on all models. The Focus interior and exterior colour teams worked closely together to ensure colour compatibility in the array of customer choices and series offerings, which now include five levels: Ambiente, Trend, Sport, Ghia and Titanium. In a market first for interior quality, Ford has embraced allergy-tested interior materials. All interior materials in the new Focus range meet strict standards based upon TÜV (Toxproof) criteria – as does Focus C-MAX.

Designed to drive
“The design brief for this car set our team 10,000 individual targets, but of those targets there was one clear challenge that was the most demanding of all: to build a genuine and better new Ford Focus. We met those targets and evolved the Focus to deliver higher functionality and efficiency: namely good packaging, optimum ergonomics, class-leading driving quality and striking design,” says Gunnar Herrmann, vehicle line director, C-cars
The new chassis has been engineered to provide high levels of vibration isolation and stable, confidence-enhancing body control, making it reassuringly comfortable even on coarse roads.

The Focus body structure has been engineered with a 10% increase in torsional stiffness over its class-leading predecessor. Electric-hydraulic power-assisted steering (EHPAS) on all but 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre Duratec petrol engines makes low speed manoeuvres easier while preserving precision on the open road.

Relevant technology
Ford says the new Focus introduces a “host of new technologies developed with an emphasis on relevance and affordability for customers”. Highlights among the new technologies are:
· KeyFree System – interacting directly with the car to unlock it without fumbling.
· Solar Reflect Windshield – blocking nearly five times the level of solar radiation as standard tinted glass, significantly improving the efficiency of air conditioning.
· Adaptive Front Lighting System – technology that guides headlight beams in line with the front wheels. Ford’s approach to Adaptive Front Lighting – using halogen rather than xenon lamps – makes the option less expensive and thereby affordable for a broader range of customers.
· Blue Tooth™ Hands Free Phones – wireless technology, allowing the connection of mobile telephones, personal digital assistants and laptops.
· Voice Control – hands-free command of audio, telephone, climate control, in-car entertainment and navigation systems.
· Rear Seat Entertainment – MP3-enabled independent audio system available, with high-mounted screen for DVD or games consoles provided in the wagon.

Ford Vice President of Research and Advanced Engineering, Gerhard Schmidt shows Taylor, Michigan Mayor Greg Pitoniak and BP Director of Alternative Fuels, Carol Battershell a Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle. The city of Taylor is taking part in a U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Demonstration Project. (from L to R are City of Taylor, Mi. Mayor Greg Pitoniak; BP Director of Alternative Fuels, Carol Battershell; Ford Vice President of Research and Advanced Engineering, Gerhard Schmidt)

Police officers and bystanders check out a Mustang entered in New York City's First Electric-Alternative Fuel Vehicle Parade that opened the New York Auto Show. Wieck Photo DataBase.

Quote: "There's simply no two ways about this fuel question. Gasoline is going - alcohol is coming. It's coming to stay, too, for it's in unlimited supply. And we might as well get ready for it now. All the world is waiting for a substitute to gasoline.” Henry Ford.

The search for a gasoline alternative

In 1916, Ford founder Henry Ford told a magazine that “long before” supplies of gasoline ran out, “the price of gasoline will have risen to a point where it will be too expensive to burn as a motor fuel. The day is not far distant when, for every one of those barrels of gasoline, a barrel of alcohol must be substituted”.
The prophetic words of Henry Ford were quoted by Ashok Goyal, director product development at Ford Asia Pacific when speaking at an alternative fuels seminar at the 26th Bangkok International Motor Show.
Between 1916 and 1919, Henry Ford explored ethanol intensively. He adapted the Model T's carburettor to run on it. He travelled to Cuba to look at sugar cane plantations. He experimented with potatoes and strawberries and wood waste and all sorts of other things.
What finally stopped his experiments? Well, for one thing… gasoline shortages eased after the war. But the real problem was that the US brought in Prohibition - alcohol was completely banned for a decade. When that made his experimental motor fuel distillery illegal… Henry Ford threw up his hands and said, "Enough," Goyal told the audience.

Since then, “petroleum suppliers have been able to maintain their global advantage over a century because they have been able to provide stable supplies to all parts of the world. And they have supplied gasoline at costs so low that no other fuel has been able to overcome the advantage of their vast, ubiquitous distribution system. I don't mean by this to portray the oil industry as some evil monopoly. For a century they have done a very good job in serving consumers whenever and wherever they need fuel.

“But circumstances are changing. Oil prices have more than doubled in 10 years. Experts are again warning - with much better data than in 1916 - that oil reserves may run out. And there are other factors that could not be foreseen 90 years ago. We have emissions issues and global warming to consider today. What's more, petroleum resources are not equally distributed - countries without oil must transfer a huge portion of national wealth to oil-producing states.

According to Goyal, ethanol addresses a number of key questions, and heading the list are energy independence, rural economic development and sustainable mobility. “Last year Thailand spent nearly 12 billion dollars on imported oil. That is a lot of money to send out of the country. Now imagine if we could take, say, 20% of that money and spend it not overseas… but in Thailand's Northeast - an agricultural area that could benefit from economic development.

“The wonderful thing about producing ethanol from farmed crops is that you don't require prime rice land to do it. You need neither top-quality soil nor extensive irrigation. As Henry Ford identified in 1916, you can choose a crop to suit the conditions. And with all the wonderful things they can do in plant science these days, yields can surely be improved over time. In a climate like Hawaii, each year you can harvest more than eight thousand three hundred litres of 99.5% pure alcohol from each hectare. What's more, the plant wastes left over from ethanol production make an excellent food source for animals,” he said.

However, no one will produce ethanol if there is no market for it. No one will sell it if there is no demand for it. “How can we break that paradox? I hope you'll forgive me if I compare the situation to how an engine works. I'm a powertrain engineer and that's how we think,” he said, comparing the rollout of ethanol to a four-cylinder engine.
·first cylinder is the farmer who must grow the feedstock;
·second cylinder are the refiners and distributors who must make the fuel available;
·third cylinder is the motor manufacturer that must make ethanol-burning cars;
·and fourth cylinder is the customer.

“To make this engine turn over and develop momentum, you must get all four cylinders to fire - and that takes fuel and a spark in each one. That is why concerted effort by government is absolutely essential. Although market forces will kick in once we have momentum, market forces will not start this engine. I think you will find that has been Brazil's experience,” he said.

The industry also has to produce engines to run on the fuel. “When you switch between very different fuels, the engine needs to be able to sense the change and adjust itself - quickly, automatically and flawlessly”. Ford of Brazil developed Flexi-fuel technology that eliminated the need to choose between either a gasoline or ethanol engine.
Ethanol is not, however, the answer for all countries and the industry will have to continue pursuing all the different alternative fuel options, he said.


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