Ford Gets It Right: From 28 Seat Assemblies to 2

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC is an industry watchdog. We balance the cheerleading and spinmongery performed by the majority of the automotive media. As publisher, I don't feel an obligation to temper "bad" news with "good." That said, since we began this cybernetic journey, readers have upbraided us for failing to run the occasional positive story (as in any). While I don't consider fulfilling this request part of our core remit, a particularly testy email from Ford flackmeister Alan Hall got me thinking. Perhaps it is time to feature the odd ray of sunshine– other than positive car reviews (which come when they come). So when I received a press release about, of all things, Ford seats, I decided to dig a little deeper. Sure enough, FoMoCo has ditched the complexity chronicled by Bob Elton in Ford Death Watch 23, moving from 28 seat assemblies to two, from "here ya go" subcontracting to a partnership. So I called Jerry Brown, Ford's Chief Engineer for Seats and Restraints, to explore the possibility of a sea change behind the scenes. Better seats and reduced engineering complexity won't save Ford, but let's call it Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 1.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Jthorner Jthorner on Apr 20, 2008

    It's been many years since I purchase a new Ford product, but I can say that our 2003 Accord and 2006 TSX have had more minor squeaks and rattles at a young age than I find acceptable than did that long lost Taurus. Unfortunately said Taurus suffered from premature clear coat failure, like many did in the 1980s. Nearly every car is put together these days with plastic snap fitments all over the place and lots of plastic parts. These are all potential annoying noise sources and they don't age well. Today I helped a buddy repair a door holding mechanism bracket on a 1999 Volvo. When we got it opened up we discovered that the dealer had already done one hatchet job repair before he bought it for his daughter as a two year old "certified used" car which supposedly had been a service loaner. The original engineering of that bracket was horrible (they pretty much have a 100% failure rate) and the dealer repair was a POS. The body panel sheet metal used is so thin as to be almost unbelieveable. I've seen soup cans made with heavier stuff than Volvo used for that section inside the door jamb. Lots and lots of cost cutting compromises are being made in the design and manufacturing of modern vehicles. Much like modern consumer electronics, they are built as disposable commodities with a particular nominal lifetime after which they are expected to be junked.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Apr 20, 2008
    Verbal: 300k miles with minimal problems is a stretch for any vehicle. Not the Ford Panther platform...that's why Ford wants to kill the so bad...they last too long...and none of them have that ugly three-bar grille.
  • Dimwit Dimwit on Apr 20, 2008

    This is waaay past due. Ford has always had crappy seats, I've broken many, some in the same car. They just don't last. And they're not that comfortable. When I moved to VW it was a revelation on how good the seats were. Comfortable, well made and nothing has broken on either edition. Ford should be taking notes. With my experiences with Ford they always seemed to do things with BS engineering. If you can't make it strong, make it thick; if it's going to break, make it cheap and have lots of spares on hand. One reason I don't drive Fords anymore.

  • Kericf Kericf on Apr 21, 2008

    Ford is one brand away from getting back on track. If they could somehow cut Mercury out of the mix, they would have a great balance of brands. Ford - Trucks, SUVs and cheap everyday cars Mazda - Performance Brand\Small foreign cars Volvo - Safe, euro-luxury Lincoln - US big luxury\Blingmobiles There are some great platforms that have come from Mazda and Volvo, and as long as Ford doesn't try to interfere too much in keeping the divisions separate and out of badge engineered hell, they do a good job of standing on their own. Something many GM brands can't say.