Last year Ford announced inflatable rear seatbelts, a new safety feature to appear in the 2011 Ford Explorer. Ford brought its demonstration module for the seatbelts to San Francisco, and we gave them a try.
The module included one seat with an undeployed seatbelt airbag and the other seat with the demonstration seatbelt. We sat in that seat and fastened the shoulder harness. Instead of the explosive deployment that would happen in a real crash, the seatbelt airbag gently inflated until it rested like a giant yellow slug across our chest. Deployed, it felt quite comfortable.
The airbag resides inside the seatbelt strap. In an accident, the airbag fills with gas fed through the seatbelt latch, causing the strap to open up.
Ford says the seatbelt airbags are programmed to inflate at a lower impact force than would cause the front airbags to deploy, although the seatbelt airbags are also much less traumatic than the front airbags. After a deployment, getting the seatbelt airbags restored to usable condition involves a trip to the dealer. But Ford pointed out that any time the seatbelt pretensioners activate the dealer also has to restore them to operating condition. … Read more
Ford owners with Sync-equipped vehicles will be able tap into Google Maps to download directions to their cars before month's end.
The free Send to Sync feature, announced Tuesday by Ford, will let drivers send Google Maps data from their Bluetooth-enabled computers or mobile phones to their in-car Sync systems. The electronic directions are downloaded directly into Sync and converted into audible turn-by-turn steps. The route is then calculated on the spot using the latest traffic information.
Ford is touting the service as a way for drivers to keep their eyes on the road by eliminating the need to … Read more
With F150 pickups dominating its sales, Ford hasn't maintained a sporting reputation in the United States. But Europeans see a different side of Ford, and nothing could highlight that more than the presence of the Ford Model T Montier from July 9 through July 11 at this year's Le Mans Classic in France. The Model T Montier participated in the very first Le Mans endurance race in 1923.
Ford isn't just resting on ancient laurels, as the company will also show off its Focus RS500. Ford based the limited edition vehicle on its already souped-up hatchback Focus … Read more
Ford CEO Alan Mulally has come to D8 to take the hot seat, a position he should be used to after steering Ford through the recent financial crisis. Ford shunned the bailout money that carried GM through a restructuring and sustained Chrysler through its sale to Italian automaker Fiat.
Ford recently released Sync, a voice-activation package on some models that integrates the content and functionality of mobile devices with the car itself. Sync also adds apps to the car, though it's not clear what these features will mean for the future of American automakers.Live blog
Mulally appears onstage … Read more
As newspaper ads and other forms of traditional marketing lose their grip, dealers are trying to connect with customers through clinics that explain complicated gadgets and other vehicle features.
Some luxury dealers have used the technique for years. Now dealers of mass-market brands are picking it up.
"The more comfortable [customers] are with the products we sell them, the more apt they are to come back and buy a product from us again," says Kim Winkler, new-car sales manager at Dan Pfeiffer Lincoln-Mercury in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Since January, Pfeiffer's staff has been staying late on the … Read more
Ford Motor Company will be ending production of its Mercury vehicles division in the fourth quarter of this year in order to refocus its resources on building the Lincoln brand. Seriously, who didn't see this coming?
We've found ourselves openly questioning Mercury's continued existence many times over the past year. The Mercury brand was originally created in 1939 as a premium tier of Ford vehicles. However, as the quality of Ford-badged vehicles has increased and Ford has continued to shine the spotlight on Lincoln as its luxury-brand golden child, Mercury has gradually become irrelevant and, frankly, unexciting. … Read more
Ford's newest employee has moved from the army to the assembly line. But since he's virtual, that type of job change shouldn't pose a problem.
Designed to test the safety of Ford's auto factories, Santos is a virtual avatar that can mimic and record all the physical strains and pains that plague us poor humans. By reaching, lifting, and stretching in his own virtual world, he can provide feedback on how those activities might affect an actual person.
Initially created for the U.S. Department of Defense to help find ways to relieve physical strain on soldiers, Santos is now working at Ford testing the ergonomics of assembly lines. His job is to perform the same physical tasks that a factory worker would perform when building a car to gauge their impact on the human body. The automaker's goal is to improve the quality and safety of its factories before assembly lines are even created.
Ford Motor announced Thursday it will use its influence to reduce the carbon footprints of its suppliers.
In partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project , the World Resources Institute, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Ford plans to survey 35 of its top suppliers worldwide with regard to their sustainability practices. Ford said this is just the initial phase of a long-term plan to eventually have all suppliers institute better sustainability practices. The suppliers chosen for this round include those who make tires, metal components, seats, and steering systems.
Based on the collected data and using modeling software from … Read more
For its Summer Road Trip campaign, American Express is offering a couple of Ford Fusion Hybrids for $14,337 each on Thursday. The offer comes through the company's Daily Wish Web site, which promotes daily special offers on a variety of products.
Of course, you have to have an American Express card to participate. To purchase the Fusion Hybrid, you will also have to log in at a currently undisclosed time and be the first of two customers to push the buy button. According to the Daily Wish site, it will reveal the sale time on Thursday, although signing … Read more