Ford has started work on a new pedestrian protection and crash safety system for the next-generation Focus family, according to company sources.
These engineering mules are thought to be testing low-speed crash avoidance radar and a pop-up bonnet (of the type fitted to the Citroën C6 and Jaguar XK) for the next Ford Focus and Kuga.
The raised ride height of the Focus saloon in the picture indicates that this is mule is running the drivetrain of the next Ford Kuga, but the new technology will apply to the whole Focus family.
The sensors in the bonnet are involved in the operation of the pop-up system, while the cream-coloured blanks in the front bumper are said to be covering radar emitters.
But engineers are not only working on pyrotechnic bonnets; they are also looking at ‘softer’ bonnet and wing structures, as well as headlamps that collapse on impact with a pedestrian.
The moves come as the EU prepares to implement new pedestrian protection measures.
This order focuses on the “protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users”. It will be become a requirement for all cars sold in the EU from 1 September 2010 that are effectively new forward of the A-pillars.
Engineers have to ensure that the front end of the car incorporates sufficient ‘crush space’ under the body panels. This should ensure that when a person is hit, there are a minimum number of under-skin ‘hard points’ that could cause serious head injuries or damage to the rest of the body.