Ford fitting electric power steering to 90% of modelsEnlarge Photo
Ford has made a commitment to fit 80 to 90% of its future vehicles with electric power steering (EPS) systems by 2012. Currently the 2008 Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and their respective hybrid models are fitted with EPS, and next in line to receive the fuel-saving device are the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ line of cars.
The EPS system helps correct for road irregularities and improves overall handling and steering feel as well as improving fuel economy. Unlike common hydraulic-powered systems that continuously draw power from the engine, EPS is only activated when it is needed. Ford is also developing a new safety feature that allows EPS to communicate with a vehicle's brake system to help operate advanced stability control and accident avoidance systems.
The system also opens up doors for other capabilities such as an auto-parking system. EPS systems can also be calibrated, potentially offering customers the opportunity to personalize their drive with selectable steering efforts - in other words choosing between how heavy or light the steering is.
Similar to electronic braking
, EPS has not entered the market previously due to high costs and a consumer fear of leaving their lives in the hands of a malfunctionable electronic system, but with rising concern over fuel costs and improving fail-safes and safety systems, consumers may just ignore those fears and be swayed by EPS.