Engineers thinking outside the box pay dividends for new Ford owners.
Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG
– Mar. 12, 2009
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid – Included EPS technlogy improves the driving experience.
Dearborn, MI. -- Ford’s Electric Power Steering (EPS) is estimated to improve FE by over 3% on the Ford vehicles it has been implemented in. Besides the fuel savings however, Ford has taken the system even further.
Customers of 2008 and newer Ford Escape’s and Mercury Mariner’s have unknowingly been enjoying subtle steering enhancements that improve their driving experiences. One of these enhancements that EPS allows is pull-drift compensation.
Pull-drift is a software-based technology that helps drivers offset vehicle pulling or drifting that can occur in steady crosswinds or on uneven roads.
“Pull and drift are major customer annoyances that have been difficult to completely eliminate because of multiple factors that contribute to this phenomenon,” said Ali Jammoul, Ford’s chief engineer for Chassis Engineering and Steering Systems. “Ford’s innovative pull-drift technology compensates to provide driving comfort straight down the road, even in steady crosswinds and on banked and uneven roads.”
The 2008 Escape, one of the first vehicles to showcase EPS with pull-drift technology in North America, substantiated this projected improvement, cutting the number of customer complaints associated with steering in half.
The mechanism under the hood
EPS incorporates sensors that continuously measure torque applied by the driver on the steering wheel to maintain a vehicle’s path and frequently resetting to changing road conditions or when turning a corner.
Ford’s pull-drift technology gives the EPS system the ability to compensate for slight steering torque changes caused by environmental factors such as road crowning or steady crosswinds.
“If you’re on the expressway and the road is crowned to the left or right for better water drainage, for example, you may need to make a slight steering compensation for that crowning,” said Brian Kosztowny, a Ford product development engineer in Vehicle Dynamics. “With pull-drift compensation, the EPS system gradually will dial in torque for easier steering in these conditions without the driver feeling it in his or her fingers or needing to make an extra effort. The electric motor does more, so you don’t have to.”
Ford’s technology corrects for road and environmental conditions within reason, adding slight torque up to a proprietary preset limit so steering issues are not masked. In addition, Ford has fine-tuned the software-based technology so it can be adapted to fit driving characteristics of individual products, whether it’s a luxury sedan or a sporty compact SUV.
EPS taking the market by storm
Ford is adapting EPS across nearly 90 percent of its lineup by 2012. For 2010, the all-new Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKT include EPS.
Besides the fuel savings, EPS reduces maintenance since it is completely free of hydraulic pumps, hoses, power steering fluids and drive belts that can require maintenance or repair.
“As we use advanced technology such as electric power steering to improve fuel efficiency across our vehicle lineup, we have the opportunity to introduce new innovations such as pull-drift compensation,” said Ford’s Jammoul. “We are applying these technologies not for the sake of technology, but because they meet the needs and wants of our customers.”