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FORD’S HANDS-FREE PARALLEL PARKING IN BIG DEMAND By Brian Foley

• More than 100,000 customers have placed orders for Active Park Assist, which helps drivers parallel park with the touch of a button and without ever touching the steering wheel

• Ford has increased production threefold to meet demand for the ultrasonic-based sensing system featured on Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX models.

Ford has now tripled production levels for the technology, which calculates the optimal steering angle and quickly steers the vehicle hands free into a parking spot.

“Ford Active Park Assist takes all the stress out of parking,” said Ford engineer Kay Müller. “At the touch of a button, it enables the driver to park in the smallest of spaces, while at the same time reducing the risk of accidental damage to the vehicle and those surrounding it.”

A total of 102,460 European customers have specified Active Park Assist since it was introduced on the new C-MAX and Grand C-MAX at the end of 2010, with one-in-three buyers specifying it on those cars alone. A further one-in-five have ordered it on the new Ford Focus, which went on sale last year.

“The demand for Active Park Assist has been truly surprising,” said Gunnar Herrmann, the Ford engineering director who led the development of the Focus. “Even more customers will be able to benefit from this feature as we introduce it on new products in the future, starting with the new Ford Kuga later this year.”

Active Park Assist – how it works

• The driver activates the system by pressing a button, which activates the ultrasonic sensors to measure and identify a feasible parallel parking space

• The system then prompts the driver to accept the system assistance to park

• The system then takes over and steers the car into the parking space hands-free. The driver still operates the gears and the accelerator and brake pedals

• A visual and/or audible interface advises the driver about the proximity of other cars, objects and people and provides instructions.

• While the steering is all done automatically, the driver remains responsible for safe parking and can interrupt the system by grasping the steering wheel

Ford Focus hatch and estate models.