Ford Worries You're Not Able to Understand This Round, Shiny Thing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ford worries you re not able to understand this round shiny thing

Allow me to paint you an all-too-common picture. You’ve pulled your vehicle into a parking space at the mall and need to get inside so that you can spend several hundred dollars at the Disney Store as quickly as possible. In your excitement you begin struggling frantically against the seatbelt. There is a moment of terror before you manage to unclip yourself, open the door, and begin shuffling your woeful husk toward the building’s entrance. Suddenly, you hear a loud crash behind you. With your mouth partially agape, you turn your vacant eyes back toward your vehicle and realize that you have, once again, neglected to place it in park and turn off the ignition.

Don’t be embarrassed, this happens to everyone.

A lot of motorists simply forget what to do after they’ve stopped their vehicle and are ready to exit. While the proper procedure actually involves taking the vehicle’s transmission out of drive and putting it into park, a common mistake is to leave it in drive or neutral with the keys locked in the ignition or motor still running and just walk away. Thankfully, Ford has announced that the 2017 Fusion will benefit from an innovative new “Return to Park” technology that places the car safely into park for you!

The automaker says that Return to Park uses information from the Ford Fusion’s “extensive network of sensors” to detect the driver’s intent to leave the vehicle. As technical as that sounds, it’s really a very straightforward affair. The system simply places the vehicle into “P” — the letter for park — anytime the operator turns the vehicle off or attempts to exit the vehicle while it stationary.

Ford claims that rollaways typically occur whenever drivers exit the vehicle with the engine running and the transmission not in park — this sounds right to me even before doing a web search. That single rollaway incident could result in serious injury to a driver or any person in the vehicle’s path.

“When we decided to go with the new rotary shifter for the 2017 Ford Fusion, the team sat together in a room to see what additional customer benefit we could bring to the table,” says Mark Zyskowski, Ford’s global e-shift systems technical expert. “We thought about what we could add without getting in the way of normal day-to-day scenarios, and all agreed a feature to help confirm park is selected when exiting the vehicle seemed really worthwhile.”

Actually, hold the phone. That sort of makes it sound like Ford didn’t think consumers would be smart enough to operate a rotary shifter — which might explain why this safety technology is only coming to the new Fusion. Otherwise, this technology would likely appear on other models, regardless of the way you select the driving mode.

Being considered dangerously forgetful is one thing but insinuating that the average person might be too stupid to make use of your product could hurt some feelings! How could Ford do this without there being some kind of previous incident where 266 people failed to effectively park their vehicle due to an unfamiliar shifter of some kind?

The all-new rotary gear shift dial with Return to Park is a standard feature on all 2017 Ford Fusions… and it should keep the company from being forced to recall any due to driver error.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • Swissfreek Swissfreek on Dec 09, 2016

    Ford aren't the only ones that feel this way. My Golf (which has a DSG, so regular old shift lever on the center console) will lock the parking brake and beep at me if I throw it in gear before I close the door, even if my foot is on the brake. I have to close the door, put it back in park, disengage the e-brake, and then put it back in drive, with my foot on the brake pedal, to get the car back into D/S.

  • TR4 TR4 on Dec 09, 2016

    Ford has plenty of experience with "return to reverse" so all they had to do was modify the design a little.

  • ToolGuy "Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us. We talk to customers every day. As retail automotive dealerships, we are agnostic as to what we sell. Our business is to provide customers with vehicles that meet the needs of their budgets and lifestyles.”• How many lies can you fit into one paragraph?
  • Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
  • ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
  • Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies.
  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.