- In the future, car shoppers will see more high-tech safety features on lower-priced vehicles, Ford told Edmunds during a safety update on Monday.
- Consumers can expect "a proliferation of these kinds of features across product portfolios," said Steve Kenner, director of the Ford Global Automotive Safety Office, in an interview.
- Dealer feedback also factors into the process of rolling out new safety technology.
DEARBORN, Michigan — In the future, car shoppers will see more high-tech safety features on lower-priced vehicles, Ford told Edmunds during a safety update on Monday.
Consumers can expect "a proliferation of these kinds of features across product portfolios," said Steve Kenner, director of the Ford Global Automotive Safety Office, in an interview.
The high-tech features include sophisticated collision-warning systems, and, further down the road, vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
"As we develop new features, they may be offered first on a Lincoln product, then we want to spread them across our entire portfolio, consistent with consumer interest in those features," Kenner said.
Dealer feedback also factors into the process of rolling out new safety technology. Ford relies on dealers to gauge the importance of various safety features to potential buyers.
That information is then taken into account, along with other data, to assist in the development process.
Ford says car buyers are more interested than ever in vehicle safety features and that consumers will play a significant role in shaping the future of automotive safety technology.
"There's a global convergence going on, where people are increasing the importance of safety in their purchasing decisions," Kenner said. "And we do research where we ask customers to what extent safety factors into their purchasing decision."
Of course, safety features — especially some of the latest high-tech ones — add to vehicle costs, raising the question of how much consumers are willing to pay for more sophisticated crash protection and avoidance.
Earlier this month, a 2014 Ford Explorer became the 20,000th vehicle crash-tested by Ford since 1954. On Monday, Ford announced that it is increasing its investment in crash-test computer power by 50 percent this year.
The amped-up computing capability will not only allow more data to be collected more quickly, but also speed up the process of conducting virtual crash tests.
Ford and other automakers, along with federal safety regulators, are diving deeply into vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
"If you look at it historically, first we had sensors that sensed a crash and deployed airbags," Kenner said. "Now we have radar for collision warnings and cameras for lane assist. The next frontier will be vehicles communicating with each other.
"They'll say, ‘I'm four cars ahead of you on the expressway, and I'm going zero mph.' Your car's sensors won't know that yet, but the car will learn it from the other vehicle."
Edmunds says: In the future, even the most modest vehicle will be loaded up with sophisticated safety systems, according to Ford prognosticators.