• Dec 8, 2009
Good news, Ford fans: The Blue Oval will be adding remote start and heated steering wheels to its line of cars and trucks. The remote start option will make its first appearance on the 2011 F-Series Super Duty pickup truck while the heated tiller will initially be fitted to the 2011 Lincoln MKX.

Following those two launches, the automaker promises that both items will infiltrate the rest of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineups in a jiffy. While it's been possible to have an aftermarket remote start system installed on any new car or truck for quite some time (including a dealer-installed option from Ford), JD Power reports that 90 percent of all purchasers would prefer a factory option, which makes perfect sense to us, particularly since Ford's system will be integrated with the heating and cooling systems to bring the cabin to a comfortable temperature regardless of the weather outside.

Ford predicts that the remote start system will help the vehicle's exhaust catalyst heat up more quickly, thereby reducing hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 75 percent. Further, the automaker suggests that a heated steering wheel will increase dexterity in the fingers and hands and reduce the need to wear gloves while driving in the winter. Want to know more? Use those nice and toasty digits to hit the jump for the press release.

[Source: Ford]

PRESS RELEAES

READY FOR WINTER? FORD ADDS NEW REMOTE START FEATURE, HEATED STEERING WHEEL TO WARM CUSTOMERS


* Ford responds to customers' desire for warmth in colder months with new factory-installed remote start system and heated steering wheel for the 2011 model year
* Ford's remote start system, when combined with automatic climate control, will gauge the temperature and quickly achieve a comfortable cabin environment. Heating, heated seats and defrost activate on colder days; air conditioning, cooled seats kick in when the weather is warm
* Ford engineers calculate that using a remote start system could help reduce hydrocarbon, CO and nitrogen oxides emissions by up to 75 percent, since it preheats the catalyst on cold starts (where up to 95 percent of emissions typically occur), prior to those first few accelerations
* Ford's remote start factory option quickly will be offered across the entire Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup after launching on the 2011 Ford Super Duty next spring; the heated steering wheel option debuts on the 2011 Lincoln MKX

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 3, 2009 – Ford, responding to increasing consumer demand, is heating up its vehicle lineup with winter-weather options including a factory-installed remote start system and heated steering wheel.

The remote start system will debut on the 2011 Ford Super Duty next spring and eventually will be offered across the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup. Also next year, Lincoln will begin offering customers a heated steering wheel option, which will be available first on the new 2011 Lincoln MKX.

Ford has been offering a dealer-installed remote start kit since the late 1990s that has proven popular with customers. The kits rank as one of the top three Genuine Ford Accessories sold nationally for the past five years. In the past year, sales have increased 40 percent since Ford started installing the dealer remote starter kits at modification centers located near assembly plants.

The new factory option comes in response to strong customer demand. A recent J.D. Power Emerging Technology Study found 90 percent of customers would prefer remote start systems be factory-installed.

"What was once a feature only available on luxury cars or in the aftermarket is now becoming a factory-installed option for Ford customers," said Michael Kan, research and development engineer with Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD). "Customers want the peace of mind that comes with a factory-installed option; now Ford is meeting this demand with a high-quality, affordable solution."

The new factory-installed remote start, when integrated with the available automatic climate control system, measures the temperature and quickly creates a comfortable atmosphere with heating or air conditioning, heated or cooled front seats, and the front and rear defroster if needed.

"When you jump in a Ford car or truck, no matter the weather, it's ready to go," said Lisa Boran, a technical expert with Ford Body and Security Electronics. "We've been able to integrate these two features to improve upon the traditional remote start system."

Improved emissions performance
Customers can also feel good about their decision to preheat or precook their ride, says Ford powertrain engineers and emission experts. Although remote start systems have been given a bad emissions rap in the past, it's not true that leaving a car at idle pumps more hydrocarbons, CO and nitrogen oxides into the air.

John Shanahan, manager, Ford Powertrain Feature Calibration, explains: "The vast majority of a vehicle's emissions are made during the drive-away after the car is started. Once the catalyst is warmed up, it will convert up to 99 percent of the engine-out emissions into less harmful gases. With remote start, along with getting the passenger compartment comfortable, you're warming the catalyst while the vehicle is in neutral with lighter loads on the engine. We employ engine control features that maximize the catalyst warm-up, even if the engine is only idling. This will result in a more active catalyst when you drive away."

That warmed-up catalyst can represent up to a 75 percent emissions reduction, depending on how cool the catalyst is and how hard the driver accelerates those first few times after a typical engine start.

Hot wheels
The heated steering wheel option coming to the Lincoln lineup is also about responding to customer needs, said Cole Buccafurri, Ford's feature and branding manager. "Market research told us that a heated steering wheel was something our target Lincoln customer was definitely interested in," he noted.

Throw aside the market research, the biological fact is that the human body functions better when it's warm. The body's initial response to cold is to preserve heat by reducing the blood flow to the hands and feet. For those who live in a winter-weather area, it's that familiar tingle or numbness felt when hands and feet start getting cold.

That reduced blood supply equates to reduced dexterity in the fingers and hands, for example, which can hinder performance of simple tasks, such as screwing in a light bulb, opening a door or steering a vehicle out of a tight parking spot. A warm interior and a toasty steering wheel may also eliminate the need for heavy gloves while driving, which can further reduce tactile sensitivity and dexterity.

Warm my ride
Ford currently offers two dealer-installed remote start options: a one-way system, which will remotely start the vehicle from a key fob from up to 1,000 feet away; and a two-way, bidirectional option, in which the vehicle transmits a signal back to the fob verifying the start-up.
Launching later this month is an optional system that's compatible with the Intelligent Access with Push Button Start system available on the 2010 Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS, soon followed by the factory-installed system.

The 2011 Lincoln MKX will be first to offer the heated steering wheel option, and when combined with the factory-installed remote start system, it will also activate the heat on the steering wheel for that warm-to-the-touch winter morning welcome.

"Ford's vehicles are constantly becoming more advanced," said FCSD's Kan. "So we're always adapting and changing our product to keep up."


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  • 82 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      And to think, our Neanderthal ancestors had to get by with paper maps, manual seats and cold steering wheels. How did they ever make it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        haha, perfect name to go along with your comment! .. I agree though
      • 5 Years Ago
      remote starts waste fuel, spew pollution and harm your engine. Start your car, turn on your defroster, get out & clear the snow/scrape your windows, suck it up, get in and drive away gently.....your car and the planet will thank you.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jeremy, why did you post this again? You posted it to AutoblogGreen less than a week ago and it made the Daily Roundup on Autoblog the same day. And now you post the exact same article on Autoblog? Must be a slow news day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I didn't see in the article if this was an option or standard equipment.

      As long as it's not some ridiculously expensive option, I think it's a great thing.

      While, true the best way to heat up a car is to actually DRIVE it, if your car is buried under a mountain of snow, it's going to take a lot of shoveling and ice scraping to extricate it. Having the car start to warm up even before you go outside would come in real handy on those days.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Reading this story makes me glad I live in a place that doesn't get anywhere near that cold that wearing gloves becomes a thought :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's so special about heated seats and heated steering wheels anyway? Have people become this soft and pampered? Maybe next we will demand that the driver's seat can convert into a lay-flat bed for those long trips.

      Oh, wait, Mahindra offers that feature as standard equipment in their new Xylo CUV.

      Anyhow, this is just a useless piece of garbage and waste of money. Maybe it's a southern thing, but on the few days which we had cold, freezing days, I never needed heated seats or heated steering wheels-just jumped into the car and drove away. Even on my tractor with no cab-just climbed aboard.

      Perhaps this type of option appeals to youngsters who either want the latest technological toy or just too soft to endure the elements, or to those who need a good shot of Geritol to get them started in the morning.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To add to this, the city of Toronto actually has an idling bylaw. If the ambient temperature is above 5 degrees Celsius and you are caught idling for more than 3 minutes, you can be fined a maximum of $5,000. I haven't heard of any enforcements, but it's there. On their website, this is the reasoning:

      "Recent studies by Health Canada and other agencies link a number of contaminants from vehicle emissions to significant respiratory health effects. Reducing these contaminants in Toronto's air by restricting unnecessary idling is part of a comprehensive air quality strategy for the City"

      I'm in full support of it. If it's not really THAT cold outside, and you are so much of a wimp you are choosing to contribute to health-damaging airbourne pollution than to simply put on a coat, pay the fine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ya, exactly, that's the only reason I'm in full agreement with it. If this was in effect for temperatures like what you are experiencing (-20C) I would have a problem with that.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      Welcome ford......what took you?


      AB actually made a thread about two features.... -__-. Not even new features at that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "It's all Ford knows how to do...gimmicks. They couldn't 'innovate' if their life depended on it."

      Incorrect. Again. The US Patent and Trademark Office proves you dead wrong.
      Lar7789789
      • 5 Years Ago
      G8GT
      7:37PM (12/08/2009)
      Heated steering wheels are probably the best comfort option idea since A/C, satellite radio and "real" articulated tilt steering (but that's a diatribe for another day). This makes a lot more sense than heated seats, since the only naked body part that normally contacts the vehicle are your hands. To steal from GMC's ad campain from a few years ago, if my $800 snowblower has heated handles, why can't a $38,000 F150 have a heated steering wheel? If Ford doesn't screw up the marketing, and bundle this with some discombobulated sun roof and navigation package like Nissan did, I might even consider buying a Ford for the first time in 25 years.


      who cares about a heated steering wheel. My mom's 04 maxima has one, and she used it maybe twice. Ford has been doing alot of things right, remember, your GM took bailout money, and then went bankrupt. Ford didn't - enough said
      • 5 Years Ago
      The quickest way to heat up the car is to actually drive, not let it sit parked, idling, for 10 minutes while you brush your teeth.

      And btw, FoMoCo is waaay late to the party...these should've been offered years ago.
        • 5 Years Ago
        quote from merlot066:
        - "in the winter it also has the added benefit of arguably reducing emissions because you don't produce anywhere as many emissions idling as you do putting a load on your egine" -

        This is where we disagree. When an engine is cold the ECU tells the injectors to inject more fuel in order to help the engine to warm up more quickly. Additionally when an engine is cold, it is producing more pollutants since the catalytic converter is also not up to temperature. Wasn't there a post last week about the Volt that mentioned that an engine under load runs more efficiently as well?

        So, how do you get the engine up to temp more quickly? I can assure you it defintely isn't by letting it idle for 10mins.

        Not to mention that your argument completely ignores the fact that after you let the car sit and idle you also have to still drive to your destination. So, the extra time idling did nothing to reduce emissions since you were running the car that much longer (under a more polluting and fuel burning mode no less).

        Running the engine under a light load will warm up the engine more quickly and simultaneously get you to your destination more quickly as well. Not sure what's so difficult to understand about that.

        If you disagree, please feel free to post some links backing up your opinion. I'll be glad to find 10 more dissenting opinions for every one you submit.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow Luis, having a car sit idle for a 5 minutes puts out way less emissions than driving a car with much higher engine revs for 2-3 minutes, and the added benefit is that you get to get into a warm cabin with a warm seat and a warm steering wheel (in the winter) and a cool cabin with a cool seat (in the summer) and this new factory installed option works with push button start (which is on an increasing number of models).

        "That warmed-up catalyst can represent up to a 75 percent emissions reduction, depending on how cool the catalyst is and how hard the driver accelerates those first few times after a typical engine start."

        Accelerating on a cold catalyst produces way more emissions than a gentle idle for a few extra minutes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not f-ing pointless to pick apart their LIE! They claim that it's better for the environment to let a car sit and idle because the cat will warm up, when the cat will warm up if the car is driven. Quit your finding a reason to complain about my truth.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Autoblog Feature Request:

        Engadget-like "this comment has been down-voted into oblivion" feature which hides the text of the commend. Ideal for commentators like Luis and Matt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hmm, never seen AB cut off a comment like that before.

        So, to continue my original comment

        the interstate is about 2 mi and less than 5mins away (depending on how many lights I hit). By the time I reached the intersteate, my Scan Gauge had reported water temps well above 100 degrees and I had warm air coming out of the vents.

        I've had similar experiences with my VW as well when I used to drive it in the winter and had the Scan Gauge installed on it. The engine flat-out warms up much more quickly when under a light load than when left to sit idle. All that is needed is to allow the oil to circulate and that doesn't take more than a minute or so even on very cold days.

        I don't disagree with remote start options, but I think their benefit is more as a comfort feature and not so much as a safety feature for the engine. If you want to let the car sit and idle for 10 minutes so that the temp inside is balmy when you get into the car, fine by me, but don't do it thinking that you're doing the engine any favors.

        A cold engine burns more fuel (trying to warm up) and pumps out more pollution (again, because it's cold) than a hot engine. My goal is to get the engine to its proper operating temp as quickly as I can with as litte delay to my day as possible. My experience and that of many others states that the solution is to drive the car rather than let it sit idle.

        I definitely wouldn't mind having a heated steering wheel though and I do miss the heated seats on my VW as well.

        Here is one of many links on the subject:

        http://www.cartalk.com/content/columns/Archive/2007/April/06.html

        From all the reasearch I've done over the years and with a quick overview now, it seems that the common knowledge is that 30sec to 1min is all that's necessary in even sub-zero temps. Of course, this is followed by light throttle driving until the engine has reached normal operating temps.

        • 5 Years Ago
        @Epyx: They claim it heats up the catalytic converter quicker, but actually driving the car heats it up faster. They're making dubious environmental claims when most people start the car and burn gas/spew emissions wastefully while they brush their teeth and eat their cheerios. It's a disingenuous statement. You could drive 1-5 miles in that 10 minutes and be at your destination. What a waste.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Epxy

        GM has offered it as a factory option for a few years now. My wife's 2007 HHR LT (purchased in summer 2006) had it as standard equipment. Our 2010 Equinox LTZ has it as standard equipment.

        Ford has offered it as a dealer option for several years.

        So yea, Ford is a little late to the game.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Photo Phil: That is much more reasonable - let it start and turn for 20-40 seconds to get the oil circulating. Many people turn it on and let it run for 5-10 minutes, which is wasteful.
        • 5 Years Ago
        phunkyphoxx
        Devices like that are available in the US. Only certain northern parts of the country are cold enough for it to be worthwhile to install one. Diesel engines benefit from heaters more than gas engines and diesels are far less common in the US than in Europe.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Luis you pathetic, senseless troll.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Way late to the party? Does every company offer this? Sure the start is available as a dealer installed option but as a FACTORY option? Besides, does it matter that they may not be the first - its available. Myopic criticism at its best.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not to mention, starting is a very deliberate act. On my mother's car, you have to hit the lock twice and hold down the start button for a few seconds. That doesn't happen accidentally.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I really have to wonder... Aren't engine-independent park heatings like this

        http://www.eberspaecher.com/servlet/PB/menu/1003710_l2/index.html

        available or known in the US?

        Quite commonly found in cars in colder european regions, these devices are much more efficient when it comes to heating up the cabin and engine before you get going, they can be programmed or started manually via remote.
        Claiming a engine remote start will reduce emissions is just laughable considering what suppliers have to offer here.
        So, from a european point of view I have to say the emission reduction claim fits to a stereotypical anti-kyoto image some might have in the old world...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, I really don't understand all the dowgraded comments here. I know I'm opening myself up to it as well, but as a CO native, I agree that warming up your car for an extended length of time is largely unnecessary.

        I'll use my own vehicle as an example. I recently bought a Jeep and the weather here has been quite cold lately. On my way to work this morning, the temp was hovering in the mid single digits. I went out and started my vehicle, while it was running, I brushed the snow off the windows. By then the engine idle had slowed to normal and I put it into drive and drove off (the engine had been running maybe a minute or so). I do not floor the throttle when the engine is cold as that's asking for trouble, instead I drive slowly to allow all the moving parts to warm themselves up.

        I also have a ScanGauge II installed which reports the water temperature, by the time I had reached the interstate (about 2mi and
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Luis,

        They are saying it heats it up ON TOP of the cabin being warm. Its not a BS claim, its simply an added benifit, which is mentioned.

        Yes driving a car heats the cats up quicker, but have fun driving the car, with the windows fogged. the point is, by the time you enter your car, all these things will be done. and u can just go.

        way to pick apart something pointless
        quit your crying.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Luis I'm gunna take a stab in the dark here and guess you don't live anywhere that gets remotely cold.

        Just this morning(and it wasn't even that cold yet here in NY) my car was covered in frost and the cabin was like a deep freezer.
        My choices:

        1.Spend a few minutes scraping the ice off the windows which wouldn't clear everything off completely and still leave me driving half blind(and god help me if I drove towards the sun). Of course I would be have to be bundled up pretty heavily(gloves are especially a must for grabbing that ice wheel) and that could hinder my driving performance since it's cold as hell but the alternative is freezing for about 10 minutes until my car heats up and that is also not very good for my driving(especially when I'm going blind as I head east),

        2. I can just walk out the door in the middle of my morning routine, turn the engine on, and have a normal pleasant morning commute. Honestly 10 more minutes of my car idling isn't going to hurt the environment that much.

        If you do the math and assume that I warm up my car every day from november to april from age 16-100 that adds up to a maximum of just 6 days. China and india are adding millions of cars to the world making that little contribution I would save worthless. So yea I'm gunna just warm my car up.
        matthew
        • 5 Years Ago
        This whole argument is so stupid it's laughable.

        First of all, they're assuming that people just hop in their cars and drive off. IF they do, they're abusing their car by not letting it warm up. I live in FL and it's rarely cold here, but my car always gets a couple minutes to warm up.

        It's like getting rolled out of bed with no coffe and told you've got to sprint if you don't warm the car up and get the fluids flowing.

        And as for the emissions, it doesn't matter if you remotely start it or push the button or turn the key, you should still let the car warm up!

        As to remote starting, who cares if they were late in the game. Unless you're driving an armored car in a getaway, it's a pretty silly idea. Look at how stupid motorists are now. Just imagine them leaving the car on all night because the accidentally pushed the start button from inside the house.

        And are people really so lazy they can't OPEN THE DOOR and push the start button? Is that so much effort?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Its not about heating up the engine - its about heating up the cabin so the occupants are not cold and defrosting windows. You cant just get in and drive to defrost windows. The merit and market for these devices have already been proven.
        Lar7789789
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, I thought Ford had already added these features years ago, but even if its the first time offering heated steering wheel, ( frankly I could care less about remote start as an option ) they haven't been resting on their laurels and not doing anything, they have been putting other high-tech and novel features in their car as standard.

        My moms 2004 Maxima has a heated steering wheel, and truthfully, I don't think she's ever used it. So its not like its a big thing for Ford to be waayyy late to the party, or offered them years ago.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I live in Boston, colder than your NYC.

        Feel free to down-rate too everyone! Love ya much!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Remote start is great, not only for warming the cabin, but I'm not a 'start the car and instantly put it in drive' type person. The oil needs a few seconds to circulate, etc. I'll start the car with remote start as I'm walking to it, just so its run for a few seconds before I go and put it in gear. I mean how would you like to be sleeping and then have to instantly wake up and go at 100%?

        And yes, Ford is a little late. I had remote start on my 1989 Olds... granted, not a factory option, but still worth installing when it had 120k miles on it (being we drove it to the junk yard at 273k miles). I currently have two GM vehicles with the factory remote start option though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's a lazy 'innovation' that may save 30 seconds on a cold morning, heaven forbid you get the exercise of walking out and cleaning off your car 'manually'. Living in northern Ontario for years, we had week-long periods below -20C, nobody in my family has owned or needed a car with auto start, heated seats or heated steering wheels. If you are buying a Lincoln, Cadillac, BMW etc. maybe this is the sort of coddling you expect, but for basic motoring, there are more important features. But hey, make it an option - those that want it will have the option to pay for it, just don't make me pay for it when I don't want it.
        matthew
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know, isn't it a bit ridiculous?

        What ever happend to focusing on real luxury, like a silent cabin and an amazing interior, instead of silly little gizmo's anyway?
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