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Besides new powertrains, including a 3.5-liter twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 and 5.0-liter V8; the 2011 Ford F-150 will also receive another update in the shape of electrically assisted steering. Truck manufacturers have already been experimenting with electric power steering systems as they seek to reduce parasitic loss and improve fuel economy.
However, until very recently, the only vehicles to be actually fitted with EPS systems on the market were small cars and crossovers. Besides reducing energy losses caused by driving a hydraulic steering system off the engine’s crankshaft, electric steering systems also allow for an infinite amount of tuning to suit optimal road conditions. Furthermore, by using an electro-mechanical motor to drive the steering system instead of a hydraulic pump, EPS is only needed when the vehicle is actually turning, as opposed to hydraulic systems which are constantly drawing power from the engine when it’s running. The result is an average four percent gain in fuel economy and with the ominous cloud of tighter Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards on the horizon for light trucks as well as cars, the automakers are currently looking at any way they can to improve fuel consumption.
According to order guides released by Ford, electric power steering will be standard fitment on all 2011 F-150s equipped with the 3.7-liter V6; the Ecoboost twin-turbo and 5.0 V8; but specialty rigs, like the SVT Raptor and recently introduced Harley Davidson (both powered by the larger 6.2-liter V8), will continue to use hydraulic power steering.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
Active Park Assist uses ultrasonic waves
The new Lincoln MKS and upcoming Lincoln MKT crossover will feature an innovative new computer-controlled auto-park system that, says Ford, is far superior to existing competitors’ systems.
The Active Park Assist system will use ultrasonic waves, rather than video cameras to position the vehicle for parallel parking, calculate the desired steering angle and quickly steer the vehicle into position. The driver will still control the gears, throttle and brake and can take control of the situation at any time by grasping the steering wheel.
Direct from the Ford Press release, HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
1. The driver activates the system by pressing an instrument panel button, which activates the ultrasonic sensors to measure and identify a feasible parallel parking space.
2. The system then prompts the driver to accept the system assistance to park.
3. The steering system then takes over and steers the car into the parking space hands-free. The driver still shifts the transmission and operates the gas and brake pedals.
4. A visual and/or audible driver interface advises the driver about the proximity of other cars, objects and people and provides instructions.
5. While the steering is all done automatically, the driver remains responsible for safe parking and can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel.
This new innovation is possible because of the use of Ford’s new Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system, an advancement from hydraulic systems. Ford claims the EPAS system alone accounts for an improvement in fuel economy by five percent.
Official release after the jump: