As part of Ford Motor Company's continuing effort to increase the safety of its cars and trucks, a team of Ford engineers developed a technology for certain Ford E-Series models that helps minimize the risk of single-vehicle rollover accidents. Introduced in April, Ford's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC) system was made standard equipment on E-Series 12- and 15-passenger Extended Wagons. E-Series Marketing Manager Cristi Brown says RSC made an immediate impact. "E-Series Wagon sales were up 21 percent through September of this year, and we think a good portion of that increase is due to the introduction of Roll Stability Control," she said. Although previously introduced on many of the company's SUVs, the task of quickly adapting RSC to the unique physical characteristics of E-Series proved a particularly challenging task. "If you laid out the components of the E-Series system next to those of the Volvo XC90 or Ford Explorer they are totally different," said Paul Schmitt, brake control engineer, Ford North America Engineering. A key difference in E-Series RSC operation is the ability of the system to categorize vehicle load conditions into one of three levels: light, medium or heavy. "This is important because the amount of passengers and cargo in a van this size impact the reaction of the vehicle to various forces," explained Schmitt. "With this enhanced capability, the RSC is better able to predict the potential for a rollover and engage appropriate counter measures to help the driver maintain maximum control." The E-Series RSC team used carryover components from other programs where possible. However, they also found ways to develop less expensive components than had been implemented on prior RSC systems. For example, a new inertial measurement unit and brake booster delivered a combined savings of more than $40 per vehicle. Innovative aspects of the E-Series RSC are being utilized in numerous vehicles currently under development. The technology, delivered 13 months faster than a typical program of this magnitude, earned the highest honor in the 2005 North America Chassis Technology Excellence Awards.
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