The Verge team were lucky enough to visit Ford’s new €15.5 million sled test crash testing facility in Cologne, Germany to witness how much hard work and attention to detail the Ford team put into the new safety features of the all new Ford Focus. We watched how the Ford team deliver confidence and peace-of-mind to customers in any driving scenario, by using a variety of sophisticated driver assistance technologies and engineering innovations.
Earlier this year, the Focus was awarded the maximum 5-star safety rating by independent crash test authority Euro NCAP – one of the first vehicles to be awarded the highest rating under new, more stringent testing protocols.
Active and passive safety features
The all-new Ford Focus offers a wider range of driver assistance features than any Ford vehicle before, enabled by three radars, two cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors, to help make driving more comfortable, less demanding and safer. In addition, an advanced body structure and safety cell featuring ultra-high-strength steels is designed to protect passengers in the event of an accident.
Features designed to help drivers focus their attention on the road ahead include:
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring for effortlessly negotiating stop-start traffic
- Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System with new camera-based Predictive curve light and Sign-based light that pre-adjust headlamp patterns for improved visibility in the dark by monitoring bends in the road and road signs for the first time in the industry
- Ford’s first Head-up display to be offered in Europe, which helps drivers keep their eyes on the road by projecting useful information into their field of vision
Euro NCAP found all-new Ford Focus technologies delivered a good balance between supporting the driver and enabling the driver to feel in full control of the vehicle; presented little risk of the driver becoming over-reliant on the technologies; and are simple and intuitive to engage, at its first ever automated driving assessment event in Germany
Features designed to help drivers avoid or mitigate the effects of accidents include:
- Ford’s Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, which can detect people and cyclists in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path, and automatically apply the brakes if it detects a potential collision and the driver does not respond to warnings
- Evasive Steering Assist, which uses radar and camera to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles ahead and provides steering support to enable drivers to manoeuvre around a vehicle if a collision is imminent
- Wrong Way Alert, first available for customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which uses the windscreen mounted camera and information from the car’s navigation system to provide drivers with audible and visual warnings when driving through two “No Entry” signs on a motorway ramp
- Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, which warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them, and can apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions if drivers do not respond to warnings
Features designed to improve safety for occupants in the event of an accident include:
- Post-Collision Braking, which helps to reduce the impact of a potential secondary collision by automatically applying moderate brake pressure when an initial collision event is detected. Slowing the vehicle can potentially lessen injury to occupants and further damage to the vehicle
- A 40 per cent increase in front crash load capability compared with the outgoing Focus, supported by a body structure comprising 33 per cent ultra-high strength and press-hardened boron steels
- Driver and front passenger, front side impact, and front and read side curtain airbags
- eCall functionality for Focus models equipped with FordPass embedded modem technology, which automatically dials emergency services in the event of a serious accident, and enables occupants to be directly connected to the emergency services by pushing an SOS button in the overhead console
Focus also debuts a bespoke, in-house developed Ford Stability Control system for added security on the road, and braking distances from 100 km/h (62 mph) are reduced by up to 1 metre compared with the outgoing model, supported by the new Electric Brake Booster for select models that builds pressure faster.
New sled test improves crash safety
The all-new Focus is the first Ford vehicle optimised using a new sled test crash testing facility at the company’s Merkenich Technical Centre. The €15.5 million facility was completed in early 2018, and enables Ford engineers to fine tune the performance of vehicles’ restraint systems with greater accuracy and flexibility – improving safety for occupants.
Up to four crash tests per day can be performed at the facility, which uses a hydraulically-powered propulsion system to accelerate a vehicle body with a propulsive force equivalent to 250 tonnes, replicating the accelerations of up to 80 times the force of gravity that are experienced in real-world road accidents.
Cameras able to record up to 1,000 frames per second allow engineers to scrutinise the timing of airbag and seat restraint devices. The latest generation of crash test dummies deliver data from 70 highly sensitive sensors in key anatomical locations including up to 15 accelerometers in the head alone.
Full-scale crash tests give us a wealth of information, but take longer to set-up. Virtual crash tests are fast, but not yet as reliable as the real thing. Our new sled test bridges the gap between the real and the virtual worlds, so that we can deliver improvements faster, resulting in safer vehicles
said Stephan Knack, head of the Ford Crash Test facility in Cologne, Germany. “The sled test will now play a crucial role in enhancing the safety of every Ford passenger car and commercial vehicle developed in Europe.”
The all-new Focus is on sale across Europe now in five-door hatchback, wagon and in selected markets four-door body styles, offered in a comprehensive model line-up that includes the stylish Focus Trend and Titanium, sporty Focus ST-Line, and the upscale Focus Vignale. The first Focus Active crossover will be available later this year.