tell you that they knew I was going to do this when I was in grade school,” he told Design News . “This has been the goal for as long as I have memories – to work on cars and do exactly what I’m doing.”
Thus far, Tavel’s work has been appreciated. In November, the 2017 Bolt was named Motor Trend Car of the Year. At January’s Detroit Auto Show, it was named North American Car of the Year.
Tavel believes that the Bolt’s recent acceptance reflects a larger emerging trend. “As battery costs drop, as propulsion costs drop, and range rises, it gives us market acceptance,” he said. “We’re on a very good glide path to create a really big market for electric vehicles.”
Ford Engineer Takes Automotive Seating to New Levels
Marc Kondrad headed a Ford team that developed an innovative automotive seat with 83 patent filings.
Ford engineer Marc Kondrad: “To get a few patents on a seat is a big deal. To get 83 is unheard of.” (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
In an era when vehicle autonomy and electrification dominate the news, few technologies go more unrecognized than automotive seating.
Luckily, Ford Motor Co. is one automaker that doesn’t give short shrift to seating, and the giant automaker can prove it. At a time when many competitors still contract the design of seats to outsiders, Ford has created its own “seating skunkworks,” with stellar results.
Its new Perfect Position Seat, which is said to be adjustable in 30 different ways, has an extraordinary 83 patent filings, with 30 granted to date. “To get a few patents on a seat is a big deal,” Marc Kondrad, advanced core seat engineering team lead for Ford, told Design News . “To get 83 is unheard of.”
Indeed, Ford’s new technology is a really big deal in the world of automotive seating. It’s notable for its potential number of adjustments – to the track, head restraint, upper back bolster, thigh supports, lumbar and elsewhere. But it’s also notable for its use of a so-called comfort carrier – a suspension system of plastic and foam that flexes around the body, taking stress off the shoulders and neck.
“It has a unique feel that didn’t previously exist in the market place,” Kondrad told us. “Basically, it lets you float in the seat.”
The seat also incorporates other innovations, such as split cushions for separate leg supports and adjustable air bladders for different body types, making it what Ford calls “a world-class seat.”
Kondrad says the seat is the culmination of a long effort by Ford to put itself at the head of the industry in automotive seating. Ford originally brought seating design in house in 2004, then ratcheted up its effort in 2010 by trying to build a new seat around a deeper understanding of the human body. That led to the formation of a special team, drawn from around the company, who were tasked with the idea of taking it from concept to reality.
Ultimately, the new seat became a