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The democratisation of fine handling

5 months ago

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Writer:

Ulrich Eichhorn | Engineer

Date:

12 October 2023

Nowadays we take it for granted that the Ford Motor Company’s European cars set the standards for steering and handling in their class or, at the very least, are among the leaders. It has been that way for not just years, but decades. But it wasn’t always that way. Far from being part of Ford’s DNA, it was inserted into it in the 1990s by a combination of science and practical engineering, and was subsequently exported around the world.

In his Ti article When Ford lost its way Peter Robinson brilliantly described how the 1991 Escort, codenamed CE14 (‘C’ for C-segment, ‘E’ denoting that it was intended as a European model), set a point so low that even when brand new it lost group tests against all its older rivals. Yet it’s not as if it came about by bad luck or anything else beyond Ford’s control. On the contrary, it was precisely the car the Ford system had wanted: low investment, little risk by innovation, cheap to make and just acceptable to the average customer. Which is exactly what it turned out not to be.

Stung by such well-earned criticism, Ford top management started a costly ‘Customer Satisfaction Improvement Programme’, focusing first on refinement and crash safety.

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