For the fourth year straight, Ford Fusion Hybrid has been named U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hybrid Car for Families. Fusion Hybrid leverages advanced vehicle electrification technology to provide a stylish, roomy, fun-to-drive family sedan. The 2015 model offers an impressive portfolio of driver-assist and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras and radar that enable driver and passengers to enjoy a more relaxed and comfortable experience on the road. The award is based on professional automotive reviews, safety and reliability ratings, seating and cargo volume, and the availability of family-friendly features. Click here for more on the U.S. News & World Report award.
When it comes to dangers on the road, we’re going to guess you immediately think of people who aren’t paying attention because they are texting while driving, distracted by who knows what or the like. What probably doesn’t come to mind at first is that the driver next to you could suddenly suffer a heart attack. You’re welcome for that ray of sunshine today.
But there is indeed a bright spot: Engineers at Ford have developed a prototype car seat that uses electrocardiograph (ECG) technology to monitor the heart’s electrical impulses and detect signs of irregularity, resulting in an early warning that a driver should seek medical assistance, such as for a heart attack, high blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances or other cardiovascular issue.
Now, don’t imagine having to add 15 minutes to your commute in order to attach metal electrodes all over your skin before you can start the engine. Rather, this ECG seat has six built-in sensors that can detect heart activity through clothing. The sensors pick up the electrical impulses generated by the heart, turning them into signals that can be analyzed by medical experts or computer software.
Engineers from the Ford European Research Center in Aachen, Germany, working closely since 2009 with Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen University, which developed contactless ECG technology, embarked on the project to address this often overlooked traffic safety issue – accidents triggered by drivers who experience heart problems.
Research by the Impaired Motorists, Methods of Roadside Testing and Assessment for Licensing project, a three-year European Union research program, found that drivers suffering from cardiovascular disease were, on average, 23 percent more likely to be involved in an accident. For drivers who suffered from angina, this figure grew to 52 percent.
Yet you’re probably thinking, when you’ve seen people in a movie having a heart episode, they’re not exactly calm, cool or collected, so you figure in the real world, a driver wouldn’t put on a turn signal, check for traffic and maneuver gracefully to the side of the road. Here’s where things get even more interesting: Ford is also testing the prototype seat to understand how it could work with other advanced systems within Ford vehicles to warn a driver to pull over and seek medical attention, possibly mitigating the consequences of a driver losing control, or even send out an alert to emergency medical workers if necessary. Connected to a system such as Ford SYNC® with MyFord Touch™, the seat potentially could use the driver’s mobile phone to send a message to medical centers, alerting doctors to irregular heart activity. The seat also could be linked through SYNC to inform emergency response teams of the driver’s heart condition before, during and after an accident.
Engineers also are studying how the seat might be used to observe heart patients and allow doctors to maintain a record of heart activity that could be transmitted to medical professionals and reduce the need for visits to the hospital.
In early tests, the heart-monitoring seat has recorded accurate readings during 98 percent of driving time for 95 percent of drivers. Ford research engineers are continuing to study how sensors can be made to record signals through a greater number of materials including those that interrupt readings with their own electrical activity. The technology could initially be of most benefit to drivers known to have heart conditions, primarily those in more mature age groups.
The all-new Ford Focus RS makes its global debut today at the Geneva Motor Show. The high-performance road car pioneers innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive, and delivers class-leading cornering speed for thrilling performance and unbridled driving enjoyment.
Focus RS introduces advanced performance technologies, and is the first Ford RS equipped with selectable drive modes – including industry-first drift mode, as well as launch control.
With a 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine delivering well in excess of 315 horsepower, the high-performance road car features the most powerful Ford RS braking system ever. Its dramatic exterior design offers optimized aerodynamics and cooling, with 9 percent less drag than the previous Focus RS.
Focus RS is the latest vehicle to be unveiled as part of a new era of Ford performance that will bring to customers globally more than 12 performance vehicles through 2020. In addition to pleasing enthusiasts, these vehicles help deliver the company’s One Ford plan for profitable growth, product excellence and innovation in every part of its business.
Developed by a small team of Ford Performance engineers in Europe and the United States, the high-performance hatch is the third-generation Focus RS, following models launched in 2002 and 2009. It’s the 30th car to wear the legendary RS badge, following such technology trendsetters as the 1970 16-valve Escort RS1600, 1985 turbocharged Sierra RS Cosworth with radical aerodynamics and 1992 Escort RS Cosworth with four-wheel drive.
This all-new Focus RS is the first RS model that will be sold in North America – produced for all markets at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant beginning late this year.
Gymkhana and World Rallycross star Ken Block was brought on as a consultant on the all-new Focus RS, and joined the Ford Performance team on the Geneva Motor Show stand.
Innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive offers unmatched handling
The all-new Focus RS exploits innovative Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring to deliver a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment – combining outstanding traction and grip with unmatched agility and cornering speed.
Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive is based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear-drive unit. These manage the car’s front/rear torque split, and can control side-to-side torque distribution on the rear axle – delivering the torque vectoring capability that has a dramatic impact on handling and cornering stability.
The control unit in the rear-drive unit continuously varies the front/rear and side-to-side torque distribution to suit the driving situation – monitoring inputs from multiple vehicle sensors 100 times per second. A maximum of 70 percent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle. Up to 100 percent of available torque at the rear axle can be sent to each rear wheel.
In cornering situations, the rear-drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel immediately based on inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw and speed. This torque transfer has the effect of “driving” the car into a bend – achieving improved turn-in and stability while virtually eliminating understeer.
The system is tuned to deliver exceptional grip – with lateral acceleration exceeding 1 g – along with class-leading cornering speed and acceleration out of a bend. With neutral and adjustable limit handling and the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track, Focus RS delivers the ultimate fun-to-drive experience.
To deliver optimum driving dynamics, Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive has been calibrated alongside the car’s advanced Electronic Stability Control, in particular, the brake-based torque-vectoring system that works in parallel with the torque-vectoring all-wheel drive.
Other exclusive chassis features include a sport suspension with stiffer spring rates and more efficient bushes and antiroll bars than those found in Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a firmer setting for track driving. Carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering, in combination with an optimized front suspension knuckle design and shorter steering link arms, delivers connected and responsive steering with outstanding feel.
Ford worked with Michelin to develop a choice of high-performance 235/35R-19 tires to complement Focus RS driving dynamics – a standard Pilot Super Sport for everyday use and, for the first time on RS, an optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 for enhanced vehicle dynamics on the track.
The car’s exterior design has been developed to support the dynamic objectives as well. Aerodynamic optimization of the front splitter, rear spoiler and underbody eliminates lift forces, and the final design delivers balanced performance with zero-lift front and rear, for optimum high-speed handling and stability.
With a drag coefficient of 0.35, the shape of the new model is 6 percent more aerodynamic than the previous Focus RS, and with its more compact frontal area, the car generates 9 percent less drag – improving high-speed performance and reducing fuel consumption.
1. I’M PLANNING A 120-MILE ROAD TRIP—CAN I CHARGE UP ALONG THE WAY?
Using MyFord® Mobile, the standard smartphone app for Focus Electric owners, drivers can select specially created MapQuest routes that show every charge station along your route. Additionally, Ford is working directly with metropolitan areas across the country to support having public charge stations for electric vehicles.
2. WHAT CAN I DO TO MAXIMIZE MY VEHICLE RANGE?
Just like fuel economy, range is all about energy efficiency. To get the most miles per charge from your Focus Electric, practice these easy steps: Keep tires properly inflated to decrease rolling resistance; brake smoothly to transfer energy back to the battery via regenerative braking technology; and use MyFord Mobile’s unique Trip Planner option to pinpoint the most economical path for your trip.
3. WILL EXTREME WEATHER LIMIT MY BATTERY LIFE?
The lithium-ion battery that powers Focus Electric uses an advanced liquid cooling and heating process to maximize battery life, so you can get the most miles out of any charge at any time.
Ford Motor Company and Petty’s Garage are teaming up to build a new 627-horsepower* Mustang GT – a limited-edition fastback inspired by the popular Petty’s Garage Mustang GT on display at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.
Two versions of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT will be built this year; the Stage 1 version will be limited to 100 units, while the even more exclusive Stage 2 version will total 43 units.
Stage 1 Petty’s Garage Mustang GT will feature a host of custom modifications – both visual tweaks and under the hood. A Petty’s Garage fascia at the front imparts a unique look, while a reworked rear fascia features a center-exit exhaust and prominently showcased race-inspired spoiler. Inside, custom embroidered head restraints, floor mats and Richard Petty’s own signature on the dashboard set this Mustang GT apart from the rest.
A Ford Racing/Roush supercharger, cold air intake, custom engine calibration and MagnaFlow exhaust system are fitted to Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter engine, boosting output to 627 horsepower. Power is delivered to the road by custom 20-inch Petty’s Garage HRE FlowForm wheels shod with Continental tires.
Stage 1 Mustang GT can be ordered in any color, with all unique bodywork painted to match in-house at Petty’s Garage.
Along with the features found on the Stage 1 car, the Stage 2 version includes a Petty’s Garage Wilwood big brake upgrade and a complete Petty’s Garage custom two-tone paint job. Stage 2 Mustang GT will ride on Petty’s Garage HRE three-piece forged-aluminum wheels.
Of the 43 Petty’s Garage Stage 2 Mustang GTs planned, only 42 remain, as rock ’n’ roll legend Brian Johnson has an order in for the first car. “This Mustang has just taken my breath away,” said Johnson, lead singer for AC/DC. “It really is one of the best cars I’ve ever driven. I didn’t have an American car, but I do now!”
Paint fit for ‘The King’
The Petty’s Garage Stage 2 Mustang GT’s custom two-tone paint job is identical to the 2014 SEMA show car. Using crushed-and-tumbled glass combined with iconic Petty Blue paint, Petty’s Garage has created a one-of-a-kind color for the lower half of the car. A custom tri-coat pearlescent blend of Ford Tuxedo Black complements Petty Blue for the upper half. “The King’s” legendary No. 43 is expertly ghosted into the paint on the fastback Mustang GT’s hood and C-pillar.
The Petty’s Garage Stage 1 car carries an MSRP of $62,210, while the Stage 2 car comes in at $92,210. Orders for this limited-edition Mustang GT can be placed at any Ford dealership on a first-come, first-served basis.
*Powertrain modifications are covered by a Ford Racing/Roush Performance parts limited warranty; Petty’s Garage components and installation carry a 36-month, 36,000-mile warranty from Petty’s Garage.