One of the new innovations Ford is introducing in many of its vehicles is an automatic parking feature. Ford's Active Park Assist (YouTube Video) lets drivers "parallel park with the touch of a button and without ever touching the steering wheel."
Although at first this seems like needless gimmickry, there is an actual green benefit associated with the adoption of this technology in Ford vehicles. To have a computer controlled system like this, you need to use electric motors for steering control instead of having a hydraulic system. And that's where the savings come in. A hydraulic system needs to be pressurized in order to function. In most cars, one of those fan belts under the hood runs a pump that operates the power steering system, and that system is a drag on engine efficiency.
With electric motors instead of hydraulics, the steering system does not impose a consistent load on the engine, and Ford reports that this can lead to as much as a 5% improvement in engine efficiency. The electric power assisted steering system is being debuted in this year's Lincoln MKS and MKT, and is expected to be in nearly 90 percent of all Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles by 2012.
I'll continue to do my own parallel parking, but I appreciate the improvement this represents. This is the kind of thing that needs to go along with the big technology leaps to improve vehicle efficiency. It's the automobile equivalent of finding an electronics power vampire and putting it on a power strip. It helps things run a bit more efficiently, and it adds a feature for those who need it.
Via Ford PR (of course)
written by Tom Konrad, January 07, 2009
written by Jim, January 07, 2009
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