Day three of my trip to Detroit had to be my favorite day. It was so interesting getting to talk with the people behind all facets of designing Ford vehicles. I could hear the pride in their voices as they described their roles in bringing the vehicles, including the new 2013 Ford Fusion, to showrooms around the world.
Our first stop on our tour was a large room where we had a chance to listen and talk to a panel on Innovating through design. After a few questions from my fellow bloggers we split off into groups to learn more about how a car is made. My groups first stop was the clay modeling room where we listened about all the work and materials that go into building a clay prototype. Then we got to the fun part, a real hands on experience with the clay and tools that they use. While we played with our 4/10 models they had a full-sized modal on a carving machine making adjustment to the body design in real-time. Like Big Daddy I think I could have spent the day in that room talking with the workers and getting hands on with the models. They were a very passionate bunch and you could tell that they loved their jobs.
After the clay models we moved on to the digital design room where they take a finished design and put it through all the fine tuning, checking light reflection off the exterior curves, and off chrome in the interior . With this technology they can take a 3D rendered model and put it in any environment to see how it looks, changing paint colors, interior trim and more. All of this before even thinking about building a car. The renderings were so good that they looked like photographs. I admit most of it went over my head but it did tell me that Ford isn’t just a car company, they are a technological one too. Hubby would have loved this part.
Next up was a small room that was set up like the set of Avatar. In this room they had a gentlemen in a suit that allowed engineers to see his movements as he got in and out of a metal frame that was set to the dimensions of a current Ford vehicle. This is used to test issues with ergonomics. Ford brings in different sizes of people, measure their movements as they get in and out of a car and from there can make adjustments to a design as needed. I asked if they did the same sorts of measurements for a mother getting a child in and out of a car seat and they don’t do that because of liability, but they do have a pregnancy suit so that they can see how a pregnant woman’s needs differ for a mans.
We then were ushered into a room that looked like a video gamer’s heaven. Here they test out all the new computer components like MyFord touch and SYNC.
Ford’s Green Story was up next and I have to say that they are a very forward thinking company when it comes to integrating green materials into their vehicles. They have perfected a recipe for soy based foam that will be found in most, if not all of their vehicles and are working on many other ways to integrate sustainable materials into everything from the door molding to seat covers. I was happy to learn that all the new green products perform as well if not better than what they have used in the past. For someone, like me, who buys a car for the long-term it’s nice to know that it won’t start falling apart after just a few years.
Somewhere in all that we ate lunch, enjoyed a presentation from Ford’s head of design and got to check out a Ford Fusion up close without a huge crush of other media. Before I knew it I was back on a bus and my time with Ford was over. It was an experience I won’t forget and next time I am hoping to get a hands on experience with one of the new Ford vehicles.
If you take away something from all my posts about FordNAIAS take this…Ford is a car company that passionate. They are passionate about cars, the people who drive them and the environment around them. I was most impressed.
Thank you to Ford Canada for flying me out, putting me up in a gorgeous room at The Henry and showing me a very good time.
To veiw photos from Day 3 at #FordNAIAS please visit my Flickr gallery.
*Disclosure – Ford Canada covered all of my expenses during my time in Detroit. All opinions are my own.