DETROIT -- Can ambient lighting change mood and enhance a driver's alertness behind the wheel? Ford Motor Co. thinks so, and the company is using the 2013 Ford Fusion sedan to showcase its latest ideas.
When drivers get into the 2013 Fusion, they will see lots of ambient blue lighting. For Ford, ice blue is more than just a pretty color; it's a key to optimizing the well-being of the car's occupants.
The new Fusion will be a seriously high-tech automobile, and the lighting will be no exception. Ford will be dispensing with all incandescent light bulbs in the new Fusion. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, will rule.
Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford technical leader of design, says the blue lighting in the Fusion was chosen only after extensive scientific research.
"It feels good and might even improve your mood," says Dassanayake, a native of Sri Lanka and a 20-year Ford veteran with a PhD in electrical engineering. "Lighting gives you a sense of orientation. It's a unique combination of functionality and comfort. Lights, graphics and door displays are critical to drivers. We need to make sure that information is presented to the customer in an effective way."
Ford will use the ice-blue color in the instrument display, center console, footwells and cupholders. "Cool and alert' are the characteristics associated with the ice-blue color. Other vehicles, including the 2013 Ford Escape crossover, also will use the ice-blue color.
Ford isn't the only carmaker to choose blue LEDs for interiors. Chevrolet and Buick also have laid claim to various shades of blue. The Chevrolet Malibu and Cruze and Buick LaCrosse, for example, use blue LEDs. The Hyundai Genesis also makes use of a shade of cool blue similar to Ford's.
Lincoln, Ford Motor's luxury brand, has chosen white as its signature lighting color.
Dassanayake, an animated man who gets excited talking about color, says people choose colors for emotional reasons.
"Certain levels or combinations of light trigger enzymes in the brain. Those enzymes cause emotional responses within the body -- states we recognize as stress or calmness or happiness."
Ford customers will be able to configure the lighting inside the Fusion according to their tastes, he says. Ford is offering a palette of seven colors, including the dominant ice blue.
Each of the other color options has its own personality characteristics, Dassanayake says. They include: orange -- outgoing and optimistic; red -- the attention-getter; green -- refreshing and relaxing; a darker shade of blue -- dependable and loyal; and purple -- magical and complex.