Kuga customers will be able to open and close the tailgate simply by waving a foot beneath the rear bumper, an especially useful feature for those carrying groceries or other heavy loads destined for the boot
Ford perfected the system with the help of volunteer “kickers”; six months of testing produced the optimum settings
“This is a perfect example of how we’re evolving existing technology to further improve our customers’ experience with Ford vehicles,” said Dominik Nical, security electronics expert, Ford of Europe. “The result is a practical and unique solution to a common problem – opening the tailgate when your arms are full. It’s a solution that will really work for customers in their everyday lives.”
The development team spent six months working with Ford’s Human Machine Interface laboratory, using volunteers to test prototype systems fitted to a Kuga. Rigorous real-life testing perfected the required kick and ensured there was no interference with other systems.
The hands-free tailgate builds on Ford’s Intelligent Access push-button start. It allows customers, who have their key on them, to unlock and start their vehicles without having to take it out of their pocket or handbag.
Two sensors in the rear bumper detect a person’s shin and kicking motion. The system safeguards against accidental opening, such as when an animal runs under the car or when the vehicle hits a bump on the road.
The system made its debut on Kuga’s sister model, the Ford Escape, in North America, late last year. Ford engineers re-calibrated the system for Europe to ensure it would still work if a tow bar had been fitted - as this is an option frequently chosen by European Kuga customers.
The automatic hands-free tailgate will be launched as an option with Keyless Entry on the all-new Kuga on sale in the UK in early 2013.