Design

Watch: Go behind the wheel of a century's worth of Fords

The look of the Ford Mustang has evolved inside and out over the last half-century.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

You've come a long way baby. A new video from Ford shows off the view drivers have had in their vehicles, from the Model T to the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Levers, knobs, and buttons all make their way in and out of the frame, but there's been one constant over the last century - the steering wheel.

As the video shows, the view from the driver's seat has gone from simple to sophisticated to simple and sophisticated. Technology in, on, and around the steering wheel has gone from simple to ever more complex over the years.

The first windscreens were made of the same material as household windows. Now they're a complex multi-layered glass meant not just to protect and shield from the elements but also provide structural support and prevent road and engine noise from permeating the cabin.

2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 The 2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 had all the gauges a buyer would have expected. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In 1927, the Ford Model A cost $540. To add a car radio, buyers had to fork over $130 extra. It wasn't until the Model Y showed up in the 1930s that the rearview mirror became commonplace. In the years following World War II, Ford's dashboard design was influenced by airplane cockpits.

As the Swinging 60s rolled around, Ford's cockpits become more extravagant. Softer materials made their presence known and dashboards began showing more character. The muscle cars of the 70s had their beefy designs translated from the exterior to the interior.

The rise in the popularity in video games led to controls being added to the steering wheel of Ford cars. Then came airbags.

As computers gained relevance in the workplace, they began to be inserted into vehicles. As personal computers gained prominence, buyers demanded that the evolution come to cars as well. Not only were high-tech features developed, but personalization and customization of computer-based features became a thing.

Materials continued to evolve making interiors more durable and customers began demanding more premium features.

For the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, Ford has taken a reductive approach to the cockpit. The Ford design team is committed to continuing reductive design as the company works toward releasing more electric vehicles to the public.

Take a watch:

The evolution of the driver’s view www.youtube.com

Mercedes recently showed off the evolution of its steering wheel design over the last century. While Ford has been reductive with its approach, the German automaker is adding screens that span the width of the vehicle. Jeep has taken a similar approach with the new Grand Wagoneer.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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Research and development

Ford names site for battery development facility

Ford's new facility will house battery research and development.

Ford

Ford is in the news again for its electrification efforts, this time with the confirmation of a Michigan location for a new battery research and development facility in Romulus, Michigan. The facility may eventually help Ford in-source much of its EV supply chain, a shift that could prevent or mitigate the challenges presented by parts and technology shortages.

As part of its electrification initiative, the automaker plans to build a new research and development facility, called Ford Ion Park. The facility will house new tech research, pilot programs for new manufacturing techniques, and will help give Ford more control over its supply chain.


Ford Ion Park Once complete, the facility will initially house 200 engineers.Ford


The price tag for the new facility and related efforts lands at $185 million, which sounds like chump change for a global automaker until we consider that Ford has committed $30 billion to electrification by 2025. The automaker says that its new facility renews its dedication to Michigan as its home base for EV development, a promise it originally made back in 2010. The company's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck will be built in Dearborn, which will add 500 jobs. An additional 225 jobs will be retained at Ford's Dyke Electric Powertrain Center.

As part of Phase One of the project, Ford plans to hire 200 engineers within 18 months of the 270,000-square-foot facility's opening. Ironically, the site was previously owned by A123 Systems, a battery manufacturer that closed the facility in 2017 due to low demand for batteries.


Ford Ion Park Ford has committed $185 million to the new facility and related efforts.Ford

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