The next-generation 2020 Ford Explorer shed 200 pounds when its XLT trim is stacked up against the prior generation’s, but achieved this largely without relying on the aluminium for which the OEM has recently been known.
Ford Explorer vehicle engineering manager Scott Slimak said at the North American International Auto Show that the next-generation Explorer was about 25 percent high-strength steel, including some boron steel. He couldn’t provide more detail about the specific breakdown of steels, so it’s unclear if this tally was a reference to more advanced grades of high-strength steel, with lower-tier high-strength steels comprising even more of the vehicle.
He said some ask if Ford just bought the weight by shifting parts to aluminium (which can be more expensive than steel). However, while some aluminium existed on the Explorer and Ford made extensive use of high-strength steel, much of the weight savings came from “good, hard engineering,” according to Slimak.
Ford eked out mass savings through techniques like optimizing bolt lengths and cutting “lightening holes” in some parts, including the battery brackets in the hybrid Explorer variant, said Slimak. He added that the OEM used aluminium in the hood and front shock towers. Working on these parts will still probably require dedicated tools and space like you’d need for a predominantly aluminium F-150.
He said Ford was proud it didn’t just buy its way to reduced mass and said that to him the “cool thing” was Ford’s ability to “pack more towing, get the four-wheel drive in and add all the new features and technologies, and still take out the weight.”
Another critical element for repairers to watch will be the ADAS suite Co-Pilot360 coming standard. It includes autobraking, including with pedestrian detection; lane keeping; blind spot checks; rear-cross traffic alerts; and automatic high beams.
More options include post-crash braking and steering help to avoid a collision. (The latter doesn’t actually autosteer the car; instead, it helps apply force if the driver’s swerve wouldn’t have enough power to avoid the obstacle.)
“It’s not about filling the vehicle with technology for technology’s sake,” said Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager Chris Billman. “It’s about improving the experience, making driving less stressful and helping the driver to feel more confident behind the wheel.”
This article courtesy of John Huetter of Repairer Driven Education (RDE). Check out their website at; http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/ for this and many other informative and educational articles on the collision repair industry