Throughout automotive history, Ford has always been one of the most innovative companies. From the early days of the 20th century, when Henry Ford himself developed the concept of a factory production line, to the hi-tech inventions of the 21st century.
While there is always room for improvement in the automotive industry, sometimes car manufacturers like Ford can end up making changes that aren’t really needed or which end up becoming a liability rather than an asset, making their vehicles unpopular with drivers. Less is sometimes more when it comes to automotive design.
The Ford features on this list are among some of the most disappointing and problematic, and no doubt the company now regrets adding many of them to their vehicles.
15. Car Alarms
To be fair, Ford isn’t the only car manufacturer who probably regrets adding alarms to their vehicles. Although the car alarm was first invented in 1912, it was really in the 1980s and 1990s that they took off. These alarms were often over-sensitive, with sirens and flashing lights going off in the middle of the night during strong winds or when trucks drove past.
14. Eco Buttons
Eco buttons were designed to improve the efficiency of a vehicle, by changing the way it actually runs to get more miles to the gallon. In this era of hybrid cars and electric vehicles, eco buttons already seem rather redundant, and even in gas-powered cars, few drivers still bother to use them when they are actually driving.
13. Security Keypad
Car manufacturers love the idea of coming up with a proprietary piece of technology, that drivers can only find on their vehicles. Unfortunately for Ford, their unique selling point was something of a damp squib; security keypads to open car doors. Designed for people who didn’t want to carry keys, or perhaps for those who lost them a lot, the idea never really took off.
12. Gesture Control
Gesture control is a new technology that has been introduced by car manufacturers, including Ford, before many of the potential problems have been resolved. At the moment, gestures can only be used to control the infotainment system – which drivers can already safely do without ever taking their hands off the steering wheel.
11. Hidden USB Ports
Modern drivers want their cars to be an extension of their smartphones, allowing them to make calls, play music and even use apps through the infotainment system. It is just as important, therefore, that cars are fitted with USB ports for charging devices. Ford has fitted some of their vehicles with hidden USB ports, just to make the job a bit more of a challenge!
10. Automatic Seatbelts
When laws were first passed making the wearing of seatbelts mandatory, Ford and several other car manufacturers decided to do their bit to try and promote road safety by installing automatic seatbelts, which moved across the body of the driver who still had to clip it into place themselves. They were enormously unpopular with drivers and were phased out when airbags were introduced.
9. Motorized Rear-View Mirrors
Car manufacturers loved automatic and motorized features in the 1980s and 1990s; even those which were completely unnecessary. When Ford and others started to fit motorized side-view mirrors – a sensible addition – they also decided that motorized rear-view mirrors were a must, even though it was easier to adjust these by hand.
8. Electronic Parking Brakes
Drivers have long been used to a handbrake lever, which needs to be pulled up sharply to bring the vehicle to a secure stop and released to start moving again. Modern Ford vehicles simply have a button, which engages the parking brake when pressed; not as much fun as the old handbrake and far too easy to engage by accident while driving.
7. Interlocked Seatbelts
Automatic seatbelts weren’t the only bad idea that Ford had when it came to car safety. This over-exuberant idea required front-seat passengers to fasten their seatbelts before the car would start. It was a relatively easy system to bypass, with drivers fastening safety belts and then sitting on top of them, while bags of groceries or dogs could be enough for the system to kick in.
6. Automatic Stop-Start
The automatic stop-start function is another feature that was designed to try and make gas-powered cars more efficient. The technology stops the engine completely when the vehicle comes to a stop, and starts up again when the handbrake is released or when the clutch is applied in a manual vehicle. This can lead to engine wear and tear over time, however.
5. Paddle Shifters
Automatic cars move seamlessly through the gears, changing up and down as the driving conditions demand. Why on earth would anyone want to mess with such a fool-proof system? It seems Ford and others have decided that driving an automatic car is too boring, and have added paddle shifters to cars’ steering wheels to allow drivers to manually move through the gears.
4. Map Lights
Once upon a time, map lights were actually a pretty useful feature; shining a shaft of light onto the lap of the driver so that they could check their progress on a paper map. There really is no need for Ford cars or any other modern vehicles to still fit these internal lights, however, given that most have their own navigation system.
3. Passenger-Side Seatbelt Alarms
Like the interlocked seatbelts, passenger-side safety belt alarms have turned out to be more trouble than they’re worth. For drivers, the annoying beep can be a welcome reminder to belt up but put something as light as a purse on the passenger side seat, and you will be plagued by constant reminders to fasten the seatbelt.
2. Automatic Windscreen Wipers
While true self-driving cars may be a long way off, autonomous functions like automatic windscreen wipers have taken away the decision about when to switch on the blades. They can switch on too frequently, often when they aren’t even needed, wearing down the blades and even damaging the surface of the windscreen.
1. Fake Engine Sounds
Drivers who buy certain vehicles expect a throaty roar from their engine when they put their foot down, so Ford was just trying to give the public what they want when they decided to add fake engine sounds to their 2015 Ford Mustang. Ford had to come clean that they were faking it to make the more economical engine sound like the old muscle cars of the 1970s.
Sources: Popular Mechanics, City Lab, Consumer Guide, The News Wheel