Ford is developing an form of active suspension system for the next generation Mondeo. Named “Vehicle Dynamic Control, the system may also be offered on the next generation Fusion in the United States, possibly as early as 2011 or 2012.
The system uses seven sensors to determine what the vehicle is doing and adjusts the shock absorbers or dampers as frequently as ten times per second to accommodate the best combination of ride and handling. In addition, there are three driver controlled settings, for comfort, sport, and normal ride settings. Ford also claims the system reduces braking distances by up to ten percent on irregular road surfaces.
Initially, the system is expected to be an option with a $1300 price tag.
Though described as an active suspension, it’s really not. A truly active suspension actually reacts to the vehicle’s movement in a way that readjusts the vehicle attitude, rather than just altering the degree of resistance offered by the suspension to the vehicle’s movement.
In fact, the description of the Ford system is old hat. General Motors introduced a similar system as an option on the Corvette in 1989. That system, developed by Bilstein, had three settings for the shock aborbers, and the settings automatically stiffened as the speed of the vehicle increased, or if sudden evasive maneuvers were taken. After that, Cadillac introduced the “Road Sensing Suspension” on Cadillacs in the mid 1990s.
That system sensed the road surface and adjusted the shock absorbers multiple times per second to achieve the best ride and handling combination. That system, however, did not allow drivers to set the mode. After that, GM came out with a magnetic shock absorber system which electronically changed the viscosity of shock absorber fluid over an almost infinite range, again automatically. This system was developed by Delphi and is used by Ferrari on one of its models.
So, the Ford system is far from state of the art. It is actually at least a decade behind the current state of the art systems.
Funny thing is, at $1300 for the option, it costs about the same as that first system offered on the 1989 Corvette.