Ford vehicle dynamics manager, Norbert Kessing

Ford has announced the availability of a new adaptive damping system for the latest generation Mondeo in Europe. Although Ford is calling it an active suspension system, what it has described clearly doesn't meet the definition of a system that senses the forces on the body and wheels, and actively moves them up and down to follow the road surface.

Nonetheless, systems like this have proven very effective at offering optimized ride and handling on different road surfaces and driving conditions. The adaptive damping lets the car get better handling without a harsh ride and at a much lower cost than a true active system. Ford is calling its system Interactive Vehicle Dynamic Control (IVDC) and it includes four accelerometers at the corners in addition to yaw, pitch and roll sensors to adjust the damping on the fly. The setup will run £650 (about $1,300) in Britain and all the details are pasted in after the jump.

[Source: Ford]
PRESS RELEASE
ALL-NEW FORD MONDEO DEBUTS ACTIVE SUSPENSION

BRENTWOOD, Essex, 28 August, 2007 – Ford engineers have made a major breakthrough with the launch of an active suspension system on the new Ford Mondeo that not only provides a comfortable ride but combines this with sportiness and safety.

Called Interactive Vehicle Dynamic Control (IVDC), the system offers sports, comfort and regular suspension settings and effectively eliminates the trade off engineers have to make between ride and handling with conventional suspension set ups. Once selected, the settings determine how the suspension reacts, providing rapid, imperceptible adjustments in line with the car's behaviour and prevailing road conditions.

Broadly, the firmer sports setting will optimise the car's responses on twisty B-roads while the comfort setting would be for a relaxing long distance motorway journey. Driver selection provides an extra element of sophistication to the new Mondeo, which is acknowledged as the best-handling car in its class.

Once the choice is made, the active suspension technology adjusts the car's dampers more than 10 times a second to provide the best possible handling characteristics, by matching the driver's selection with road conditions and the demands being made by the driver in terms of acceleration, braking, cornering speed etc. This provides more precise responses than the fixed settings of a conventional suspension system.

The responses of IVDC are based on inputs from seven sensors: one acting on each wheel and three others positioned to measure acceleration, pitch and roll. Information from the sensors is fed into a control unit that triggers electronic valves in the dampers, adjusting them at a rapid rate that matches the information being fed into the system. The system has been tuned to match precisely the specific weights and tracking of the new Mondeo.
Ford vehicle dynamics manager Norbert Kessing explains: "New Mondeo's ability to monitor its handling interactively with the driver improves safety and comfort. An active suspension system makes particular sense in larger cars like the new Mondeo. It enhances dynamic stability, particularly under critical driving conditions, and works with the car's other safety systems to reduce braking distances by up to 10 per cent on rough roads."

Safety first
The new Ford Mondeo already benefits from a high level of safety equipment as standard, including seven airbags, Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP).

By being able to react within one tenth of a second the system can avoid the need for ESP to be activated. In more serious driving situations the system will operate together with ESP and ABS systems to help the driver retain control of the car.

NORBERT KESSING, FORD VEHICLE DYNAMICS MANAGER

First job at Ford

In 1995, in an area called vehicle dynamics method development producing a vehicle ride simulation tool

Favourite Ford project

New Mondeo because the look and design of the car is mirrored in its driving characteristics

Favourite Ford vehicle

I like Focus ST and S-MAX as well as new Mondeo. If I had to pick one, it would be S-MAX

ACTIVE SUSPENSION IN NEW FORD MONDEO

What is it?

Near constant suspension adjustment to match desired ride with road conditions and driving style

How to get it

Option on Zetec, Ghia, Titanium and Titanium X

What's the cost?

£650 for IVDC option



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