Ford said today that it plans to fit 80 to 90 percent of its cars with a new electronic power steering (EPS) system by 2012. Ford says the system will improve the fuel economy, performance, and reliability of all the cars outfitted with it.
Found now in the 2008 Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and both hybrid models, the system will be found in the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ next year and worked into the Ford Mustang, Ford Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator by 2012.
Ford says the EPS system can boost fuel economy by up to eight percent. It adds that the steering feel and handling of the vehicle are improved with EPS -- though most car writers have criticized EPS systems for artificial steering feel. Ford also says that hydraulic-powered steering systems have a higher failure rate and are less environmentally friendly than the new EPS systems. Ford says EPS can reduce CO2 emissions by 3.5 percent since it's only active when it's used, as opposed to a hydraulic system that's always being primed.
EPS will also lead to more sophisticated steering in the future. It could enable a feature like automatic parking, where your car will be able to parallel park itself by using advanced front and read bumper sensors, for example.
Compared to the rest of the world, Ford is a little behind the curve with EPS. In Western Europe approximately 6.1 million vehicles have EPS, nearly double the amount from 2003 according to just-auto.com.