Ford reveals kick-activated automatic tailgate on 2013 Kuga

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 7, 2012

Opening the boot of the all-new Kuga from Ford Motor Company is easy with its new hands-free tailgate. Accessing the hood is an experience in itself. Many Kuga consumers would appreciate the hands-free system since they don’t have to put down their loads or other packages. The hands-free system enables Kuga customers to gently kick a foot beneath the rear bumper to open and close the tailgate without setting aside packages or other loads.

To open and close the tailgate, all that consumers have to do is to gently kick a foot beneath the rear bumper. However, they’d still need to have the key on them whether in their pocket or handbag.

Dominik Nical, security electronics expert, Ford of Europe, said that this is a “perfect example” of the role of current technology to boost its customer’s experience with Ford vehicles. He also believes that this “solution” will be effective in addressing a common problem. It took the development team six months to work with Ford’s Human Machine Interface laboratory. Interference with other systems was avoided.

The hands-free tailgate builds on Ford’s Intelligent Access push-button start. A person’s shin and kicking motion is detected by two seasons in the rear bumper. This system protects against accidental opening, like when an animal runs under the car or when the vehicle hits a bump on the road. Late last year, the system debuted on Kuga’s sister model, the Ford Escape, in North America.

Ford engineers re-calibrated the system for Europe to guarantee that it would still work if a tow bar had been fitted since this is an option popular to European Kuga customers. The automatic hands-free tailgate will be offered as an option with Keyless Entry on the all-new Kuga on sale in the UK in early 2013.

The AWD system equipped in the Ford Kuga is so smart that it can assess and reassess the current situation 20 times before you even blink your eye. It then readjusts the power split of the AWD so that the driver is able to get the best combination of traction and handling. For most AWD systems, the objective when the vehicle is driving at low speeds is that it focuses on traction.

Once the vehicle reaches 30 km/h, this system then concentrates on enhancing the response, handling, and driving feel. For the driver to know how much torque is needed at each wheel anytime, the Kuga has a cluster display where the information is shown. The addition of the improved Torque Vectoring Control system helps enhance control when cornering.

It also helps with the driving dynamics. This was first implemented in the Focus RS. In the Kuga, it guarantees a fun drive. The reason is that the system puts in a small amount of braking to the wheels’ inside, thereby helping the driver go faster on corners. Aside from being stylish, the new Kuga is also practical in that when compared to the present version, the luggage compartment allows for easier access.

The ease in opening it is owed to the hands-free tailgate which can be closed or opened by simply making a kicking motion just under the bumper in the rear. This same luggage compartment also offers more space, specifically 46 liters more than the present version. In addition, the seats in the rear can be folded flat in one easy motion. A safety feature that is sure to entice customers to the Kuga is the Ford Curve Control.

This system helps protect the drivers, especially those who have entered a curve at a faster speed. The possibility of an understeer is mitigated by this system by the driver performing aggressive braking. If the system determines that the driver is still pressing the accelerator, the engine torque is lowered as well.

Assistant Chief Program Engineer of C Cars for Ford of Europe Michael Nentwig shared that the Curve Control system helps drivers should a situation occur wherein they have been driving too fast for the current road conditions.

A good example of this would be a curved slip road just as one exits a motorway, he continued. Should this happen and the driver is unable to lower the speed adequately, Nentwig added, the system is activated and slows the vehicle by as much as 16 km/h for every second.

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