Steve Kozak: Volvo and Ford Motor Co. share safety technology.
Although no regulations are on the books here, Kozak believes it is only a matter of time before domestic automakers will have to build vehicles that comply with standards similar to those enacted in Japan and Europe.
Kozak spoke recently with Staff Reporter Richard Truett.
Do you think that eventually you'll have to design vehicles that take pedestrian safety into account?
Absolutely. I believe pedestrian safety standards are heading this way.
As we continue to what I call "drain the swamp" of all the pressing issues here in the United States, the agenda will then fill with the pedestrian discussion.
Is Ford already starting to think of future vehicle design in terms of improving pedestrian safety standards? And what will you use - energy-absorbing hoods, external air bags or some other technology?
Volvo is our expert on this, and they are blazing the trail, because they are in Europe filling European market needs.
Because we are all together, they share technology with us and we share technology with them. We already have a pyrotechnically deployable hood available on a Jag in Europe.
Volvo has some passive counter measures in the hood and front-end design.
Will pedestrian safety standards change the styling of vehicles significantly?
I don't know enough about it yet. But with the proposed rule-making going on, you will see some changes in the appearance of the vehicle. But that's based on future rule-making, not what is on the books now.
What other safety issues are on your radar screen?
Roof crush standards are being debated for all vehicles. The government has proposed rule-making on that, and you'll see that come to fruition real soon.
Probably by the first or second quarter of next year we'll have a law that changes the roof strength standards.
How costly and complex will that be to implement?
Actually it's not that impossible to do.
There is some debate going on, but there is not a lot technology required to change the roof strength.
Primarily is it just a brute strength kind of thing based on the size of the pillars that hold up the roof. We've been looking into it.
The technology is there. It's nothing I need to invent.
Since Volvo is Ford's in-house safety expert, does that mean Volvo has responsibility for all brands in the company?
No. Ford has the much larger research division. The way we work technology is we have centralized advanced research, and the company has money set aside to do that development.
"Big-bang" technologies allow us to have different divisions in Ford to put in for the kinds of technologies they'd like to have developed. Those monies are approved at the executive board level.
Primarily, whoever has the need and desire gets the resources to develop it.
Volvo, because they are the safety leader, generally is the first implementer of the new technologies, and then it cascades down into the Ford products as well. They get to be the guinea pigs on a lot of this stuff.
Can you give an example?
Many of the safety items in the 2006 Ford Explorer, such as the adaptive steering column - that is straight out of the (Volvo) XC90. They developed the technology, and we brought it into our vehicle.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]