Every year, U.S. drivers spend $3 billion repairing damage to their vehicles due to potholes; however, Ford is looking to help Fusion owners keep that money in their pocket in the years ahead.
The automaker is expanding the availability of its pothole-detection technology to its 2017 Fusion Sport model. Previously an option for its Lincoln line-up as well as the Ford Expedition full-size SUV, the technology, which will be standard equipment on the new Fusion Sport, could save drivers as much as $300 in repair costs.
The car’s computer detects when the car is running over a pothole, then instantly adjusts the shock absorbers to keep the tire from dropping into the depression.
Ford demonstrates the system’s effectiveness by having the car drive over a pothole with ping-pong balls in it and show how the balls aren’t crushed by the car’s tire.
“The new Fusion V-6 Sport substantially reduces the harsh impact potholes often deliver,” said Jason Michener, a Ford engineer with expertise in the technology, in a statement. “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.”
Using of 12 high-resolution sensors, the vehicle’s computer senses the edge of the pothole and kicks the system into action. The computer, which can adjust suspension dampers every two milliseconds, stiffens the shock absorbers so that the front wheel won’t fall into the hole.
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Because the tire and wheel don’t drop as far, they don’t strike the opposite side of the pothole as harshly. The rear suspension can respond even faster, with a signal from the front wheel providing a pre-warning to the rear wheel well before it reaches the pothole, Ford officials noted.
The system was developed at the automaker’s pothole test center, which has surfaces made to replicate a variety of road conditions around the world, including a 1.2-mile stretch of potholes.
“We tested and tuned this system by driving over countless potholes – subjecting Fusion V6 Sport to the brutal, square-edged potholes of our Romeo (Michigan) Proving Grounds to finesse the software,” said Michener. “It was long hours of not very pleasant work, but the results are well worth it.”
The Fusion V-6 Sport, which comes to showrooms this summer, is a performance version of the popular midsize sedan. It was introduced at this year’s Detroit Auto Show with a focus on two areas: the 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 EcoBoost engine producing 325 horsepower powering it and the slew of technology that comes with it.
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The pothole-detection system is just part of a spate of technologies aimed at making Fusion is the most technologically advanced midsize car Ford has ever built in North America, the automaker claims. It is the first car sold here with Ford’s pedestrian detection system. Fusion also has hands-free parallel and perpendicular parking capability.
Lane-keeping assist helps drivers maintain proper lane position using a small, forward-facing camera behind the rearview mirror that “looks” at the road ahead – monitoring lane lines to ensure the car is on course.
Available Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert includes sensors in the car’s rear quarter-panels that can detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if traffic – unseen by the driver – is detected. BLIS enables cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views. In combination with the standard rearview camera, BLIS makes for confident maneuvering in parking lots.
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Of course, the Fusion Sport comes with the third iteration of the maker’s SYNC system. SYNC Connect, optional with SYNC 3, enables owners to remotely start their car, schedule future starts, or lock and unlock the car using their smartphone.