2010 Taurus pushed Ford's virtual engineering
29-Jan-2009 20:27 GMT
The '10 Taurus's body-in-white benefits from extensive FEA development
and use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels to provide
greater impact strength. Side impact integrity is also enhanced by a
hydroformed tubular crosscar beam embedded in the floor between the
The 2010 Taurus program was already about a year old when Pete Reyes
took over as chief engineer, and he had to hit the ground running.
Development had become increasingly urgent after Alan Mulally was
named CEO in September 2006. The ex-Boeing boss had been critical of
Ford's rebadging of the lackluster Five Hundred sedan as the "new"
Taurus, and he wasn't satisfied with how its successor was shaping up.
On Mulally's orders, styling and body engineering were reworked,
setting the program back while the U.S. market was beginning its turn
away from trucks. The original plan to carry over major elements of
the Five Hundred's exterior sheet metal was killed when focus groups
were underwhelmed by early sketches.
Ultimately, the solution was essentially a complete redesign. Then the
collapse of the truck market caused Ford leaders to pull the car's
launch ahead by a full year.
"Derrick Kuzak [Group Vice President, Global Product Development] set
the course-the new Taurus was to be Ford's flagship sedan and it had
to be radical and different," Reyes told AEI during the car's media
backgrounder in late December. "So the pressure was on and we had to
move rapidly and deliberately. We had to really push the
Veteran program manager Reyes was tapped to take over Taurus midstream
after successfully launching the '08 F250/350. "I'd spent most of my
engineering career in trucks and faced a huge learning curve on the
car side," he said. "I didn't even know the terms 'decklid' and
But his depth of experience made for quick learning. In getting the
new Taurus to the production phase just 24 months from program
approval, Reyes' engineers had to work in closer cooperation with Ford
designers than they had ever done before.
"We lived with the stylists," he noted. "We had to go fast, which
forced us to abandon many physical models that are part of the typical
process. The extreme time crunch demanded we rely on digital 3-D
virtual modeling instead."
Their success allowed the program to commit to just one set of
prototypes in 16 weeks, Reyes said. The fast-paced schedule included
extensive wind-tunnel development, a key to reducing NVH and
optimizing highway fuel efficiency, he added.
Ford hopes the 2010 Taurus will replicate the extraordinary success of
the 1986 original, which brought curvaceous European sedan style to
America and for years topped Honda's Accord as the best-selling
passenger car in the U.S. The new D-segment sedan is based on what
Reyes calls an "evolution" of Ford's D3 vehicle architecture and front
strut/rear multilink suspension shared with the Lincoln MKS.
The new Taurus gets all-new sheet metal and, for the first time, there
won't be a Mercury version. Ford Car Design Director Moray Callum
describes the styling as "a relaxed, glamorous, expensive,
cruise-down-the-road look" that blends Ford's European "kinetic"
design language with muscular American cues influenced by the 2006
Interceptor concept. The body structure was given a lower roofline and
shorter overhangs than the Lincoln's-there will be no mistaking the
The underbody, B-pillars, roof structure, and cross-car bulkheads were
also strengthened through extensive FEA and judicious use of
high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, with the goal of
achieving U.S. NHTSA five-star crash ratings. The car's front rails,
tunnel rails, and "shotgun" front structural members are octagonal in
cross section, intended to absorb and redirect crash forces away from
the passenger compartment.
Side-impact integrity is also enhanced by a hydroformed tubular
crosscar beam embedded in the floor between the door frames.
While AEI has not yet driven an example, the new Taurus puts Ford
directly into Accord/Toyota Camry competitive territory based on close
review of its technologies, powertrain, safety and feature content,
interior design and materials, and pre-production craftsmanship.
Maintaining the previous car's pricing ($26,000 base) indicates the
program team also held the line on development cost.
Reyes explained his team focused heavily on the car's steering and
handling characteristics. This was achieved with the body's greater
structural rigidity as well as using larger stabilizer bars and
increased damping rates. The new SR1 suspension features the 1:1 rear
shock absorber ratio as used on the 2010 Lincoln MKT to balance what
Reyes describes as "crisp" steering turn-in and "impressive" roll
stiffness with a composed ride.
At the time of the car's summer '09 launch at the Atlanta assembly
plant, Taurus will be powered by the naturally aspirated 3.5-L Duratec
V6 rated at 263 hp (196 kW) and 249 lb·ft (338 N·m). The base engine
employs a two-speed fuel pump and Ford's Aggressive Deceleration Fuel
Shut-Off (ADFSO) technology for improved fuel efficiency.
Ford's new EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline-direct-injection V6, which
produces 350 hp (261 kW) from the same displacement, will be added
later. There are two six-speed transaxles, one equipped with optional
paddle shifters for semi-manual operation. All-wheel drive carries
over from the outgoing model. The Taurus SE and SEL packages are
fitted with a 2.77:1 final drive ratio to optimize fuel economy.
Front-drive Limited models use a 3.16:1 ratio, while AWD cars get a
3.39:1 final drive for improved acceleration.
Innovation inside the new Taurus includes a unique urethane tooling
process used to mold the door trim panels. The resulting part features
a convincing "hand stitched" look and allows for two-tone color and
premium surface textures. But it is the vast electronic feature
content that should dramatically boost the new Taurus's competitive
Standard and optional technologies include adaptive cruise control and
forward collision warning with closing-rate alarms and brake
pre-charging; blind-spot detection that even monitors pass-behind
pedestrian traffic; seat cushions that continuously move to boost
occupant blood circulation and comfort; a "smart" key that allows
parents to set the car's maximum speed and audio-system volume limits
for teenage drivers; post-crash alert; and the ever-sophisticated
Ford/Microsoft Sync with voice-activated navigation (via an 8-in
screen) and Sirius Travel Link.