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New Kuga uses tech to overcome safety fears

The new Kuga has arrived in South Africa, offering one of the most technologically-advanced, smart sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to restore the battered safety image of the vehicle.

Ford issued three recalls of Kuga vehicles in South Africa over the past year due to faulty coolant systems resulting in a number catching fire, followed by seatbelt concerns.

“We are thrilled with the new Kuga offering,” says Tracey Delate, General Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “With stunning new design inside and out, smart technologies, fuel-efficient yet powerful engines, and five-star safety, it’s a vehicle that will stand out for our customers.”

The new Kuga joins the best-selling EcoSport compact SUV and the sophisticated Everest seven-seater SUV to offer a wide range of models across all key segments.

Buyers have the choice of two petrol engines in the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol units, as well as the 2.0-litre TDCi turbodiesel engine. Depending on model, there is the option of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive models, and manual or automatic transmissions to suit customer needs.

As before, three specification levels are available, starting off with the value-oriented Ambiente, the mid-level Trend and the range-topping Titanium.

Ford provided the following information:

The new Kuga features Ford’s latest design language for a bold, smart look that is shared with other Ford SUVs. Its large upper trapezoidal grille and a smaller lower grille are flanked by sleek new headlamps complemented by functional, stylish fog lamps.

At the rear, the Kuga’s smart, athletic stance is emphasized by the redesigned light clusters and new tailgate design, along with the purposeful twin exhausts. A new range of standard and optional alloy wheel designs are available, spanning 17 to 19-inch sizes, which complement the upmarket styling of the new Kuga.

“We know from customer feedback and research that vehicle design and style are key factors in the car buying decision process,” Delate says. “In many cases, it’s actually the top consideration which is why we’re particularly excited about the new Kuga. In addition to being a very capable, functional SUV with a fantastic suite of smart technologies, it’s also a vehicle that will turn heads wherever it’s driven.”

Smart and intuitive interior

Steeped in SUV expertise from around the Ford world, the new Kuga designers’ objective was to combine stylish form with everyday function for the interior of the SUV.

“Our designers went to great lengths to ensure the vehicle and its many different features, large and small, are smart yet provide welcome benefits to even daily routines,” Delate adds. “The Hands-Free Power Tailgate, for example, is something customers have really grown to appreciate. No matter what you might find filling your arms, from sports gear to shopping bags or a toddler or two, the Power Tailgate can make your life easier.”

Kuga drivers will find an array of useful convenience features making the vehicle very user-friendly, including ISOFIX anchorage-points, an electronic parking brake, improved storage in the centre console, as well as rear tray tables and rear air vents on the Trend and Titanium models.

The new Kuga offers up to 1603 litres of cargo space with the rear stadium seating folded – ideal for weekend escapes. In addition, the Kuga steering wheel and air-conditioning controls operate through fewer and more easily distinguishable buttons and switches, making the controls easier to recognise and navigate.

All Kuga automatic models include paddle-shift controls that enable drivers to manually select gears, adding to Ford’s fun-to-drive ethos.

Introduction of SYNC 3 with optional Navigation

The new Kuga will allow drivers to control audio functions plus connected smartphones using simple, more conversational voice commands, with Ford’s new SYNC®3 connectivity system, which is standard on the Trend and Titanium derivatives.

SYNC®3 with Navigation is optional across the Kuga range, featuring embedded navigation which provides a full 3D experience with elevated map view, enhanced full colour graphics and point of interest (POI) building images. When driving, the navigation map displays a raft of information, including the next manoeuvre; current speed limit; current GPS speed; and a choice of estimated time of arrival, time to reach destination, or distance to destination; plus highway services information such as rest stops and garages.

Ford has drawn on more than 22,000 comments and insights gained from research clinics and surveys to ensure the new version is the most customer-centric system to date.

Kuga drivers can operate the SYNC 3 8-inch touchscreen in the same way that they use their smartphones. A new interface features larger, easier to operate buttons and enables pinch and swipe gestures for the first time.

SYNC 3 incorporates Apple CarPlay, the smarter, safer way to use iPhones in the car allowing drivers to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimised for traffic conditions, and more while they stay focused on the road*.

AndroidT users can activate Android AutoT, which makes apps and services that are already widely used accessible in safer and seamless ways in the Kuga, including Google Search, Google Maps and Google Play*.

Enhanced visibility and safety

The latest Ford technologies and sophisticated body engineering help drivers see more clearly and enhance safety on the road for new Kuga occupants and other road users.

The new Kuga’s sculpted bonnet features a wider, uninterrupted central dome that not only serves to complement its sporty, smart new look, but also incorporates a structural design that improves pedestrian protection in the event of an accident. The bonnet and rear liftgate also have been re-engineered to help mitigate damage to more expensive-to-replace components.

Sophisticated technology for safer driving

Segment-defining driver and passenger safety remains a highlight of the new Kuga, with standard safety features across the range incorporating a total of seven airbags – including a driver’s knee airbag – as well as ABS brakes with Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Trailer Stability function, Hill Launch Assist and Rollover Mitigation.

An enhanced version of Ford’s Active City Stop with low-speed collision mitigation and avoidance has been introduced, which can be specified as with the Driver Assistance Pack available as an option on the Trend and Titanium models. This pack also includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Aid, as well as Advanced Active Park Assist.

The new Kuga now offers Perpendicular Parking functionality, in addition to the semi-autonomous Active Park Assist technology. Using additional ultrasonic sensors, Perpendicular Parking at the push of a button enables drivers to locate parking spaces alongside other cars as well as parallel to the road, and steers the vehicle into them while the driver controls the accelerator and brake.

Efficient EcoBoost performance

The new Kuga relies on Ford’s powerful yet extremely efficient 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine. Two output levels are offered, comprising a unit with 110kW and 240Nm of torque in the front-wheel drive six-speed manual derivative.

A 132kW version of the 1.5 EcoBoost engine is provided on the models equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – available in front-wheel drive guise and with Ford’s Intelligent All Wheel Drive.

The petrol engine line-up is topped by the powerful 2.0 EcoBoost, which produces 177kW and 340Nm, and is available exclusively with all-wheel drive and the six-speed torque-converter automatic.

For diesel fans, the impressive 2.0 TDCi turbodiesel engine remains, producing 132kW and a substantial 400Nm torque peak. Power is delivered to all four wheels through the responsive PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Recommended Retail Prices:

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6MT FWD            R368 800

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Ambiente 6AT FWD             R381 900

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6MT FWD                             R406 400

Ford Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 6AT FWD                              R427 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Trend 6AT AWD                          R483 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium 6AT AWD              R497 900

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi Titanium 6AT AWD                              R506 900

All models come standard with Ford Protect, including a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A five-year/90 000km service plan is included on the TDCi models, with 15 000km service intervals. The petrol Kuga models have 20 000km service intervals, and are sold with a four-year/80 000km service plan.

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Two-thirds of adults ready for cars that drive themselves

The latest Looking Further with Ford Trends Report reveals that behaviour is changing across key areas of our lives

Self-driving cars are a hot topic today, but if you had to choose, would you rather your children ride in an autonomous vehicle or drive with a stranger? You may be surprised to learn that 67 per cent of adults globally would opt for the self-driving car.

That insight is one of many revealed in the 2019 Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, released last week. The report takes a deep look into the drivers of behavioural change, specifically uncovering the dynamic relationships consumers have with the shifting landscape of technology.

Change is not always easy, particularly when it is driven by forces beyond our control. In a global survey of 14 countries, Ford’s research revealed that 87 per cent of adults believe technology is the biggest driver of change. And while 79 per cent of adults maintain that technology is a force for good, there are large segments of the population that have significant concerns. Some are afraid of artificial intelligence (AI). Others fear the impact of technology on our emotional wellbeing.

“Individually and collectively, these behavioural changes can take us from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, and unleash a world of wonder, hope and progress,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “At Ford we are deeply focused on human-centric design and are committed to finding mobility solutions that help improve the lives of consumers and their communities. In the context of change, we have to protect what we consider most valuable – having a trusted relationship with our customers. So, we are always deliberate and thoughtful about how we navigate change.”

Key insights from Ford’s 7th annual Trends Report:

Almost half of people around the world believe that fear drives change
Seven in 10 say that they are energised by change
87 per cent agree that technology is the biggest driver of today’s change
Eight in 10 citizens believe that technology is a force for good
45 per cent of adults globally report that they envy people who can disconnect from their devices
Seven out of 10 consumers agree that we should have a mandatory time-out from our devices

Click here to read more about the seven trends for 2019.

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At last, cars talk to traffic lights to catch ‘green wave’

By ANDRE HAINZLMAIER, head of development of apps, connected services and smart city at Audi.

Stop-and-go traffic in cities is annoying. By contrast, we are pleased when we have a “green wave” – but we catch them far too seldom, unfortunately. With the Traffic Light Information function, drivers are more in control. They drive more efficiently and are more relaxed because they know 250 meters ahead of a traffic light whether they will catch it on green. In the future, anonymized data from our cars can help to switch traffic lights in cities to better phases and to optimise the traffic flow.

In the USA, Audi customers have been using the “Time-to-Green” function for two years: if the driver will reach the lights on red, a countdown in the Audi virtual cockpit or head-up display counts the seconds to the next green phase. This service is now available at more than 5,000 intersections in the USA, for example in cities like Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington D.C. In the US capital alone, about 1,000 intersections are linked to the Traffic Light Information function.

Since February, Audi has offered a further function in North America. The purpose of this is especially to enable driving on the “green wave”. “Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory” (GLOSA) shows to the driver in the ideal speed for reaching the next traffic light on green.

Both Time-to-Green and GLOSA will be activated for the start of operation in Ingolstadt in selected Audi models. These include all Audi e-tron models and the A4, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q7 and Q8 to be produced from mid-July (“model year 2020”). The prerequisite is the “Audi connect Navigation & Infotainment” package and the optional “camera-based traffic sign recognition”.

Why is this function becoming available in Europe two years later than in the USA? 

The challenges for the serial introduction of the service are much greater here than, for example, in the USA, where urban traffic light systems were planned over a large area and uniformly. In Europe, by contrast, the traffic infrastructure has developed more locally and decentrally – with a great variety of traffic technology. How quickly other cities are connected to this technology depends above all on whether data standards and interfaces get established and cities digitalise their traffic lights.

On this project, Audi is working with Traffic Technology Services (TTS). TTS prepares the raw data from city traffic management centres and transmits them to the Audi servers. From here, the information reaches the car via a fast Internet connection.

Audi is working to offer Traffic Light Information in further cities in Germany, Europe, Canada and the USA in the coming years. In the large east Chinese city of Wuxi, Audi and partners are testing networks between cars and traffic light systems in the context of a development project.

In future, Audi customers may be able to benefit from additional functions, for example when “green waves” are incorporated into the ideal route planning. It is also conceivable that Audi e-tron models, when cruising up to a red traffic light, will make increased used of braking energy in order to charge their batteries. Coupled with predictive adaptive cruise control (pACC), the cars could even brake automatically at red lights.

In the long term, urban traffic will benefit. When cars send anonymised data to the city, for example, traffic signals could operate more flexibly. Every driver knows the following situation: in the evening you wait at a red light – while no other car is to be seen far and wide. Networked traffic lights would then react according to demand. Drivers of other automotive brands will also profit from the development work that Audi is carrying out with Traffic Light Information – good news for cities, which are dependent on the anonymised data of large fleets to achieve the most efficient traffic management.

In future, V2I technologies like Traffic Light Information will facilitate automated driving. 

A city is one of the most complex environments for an autonomous car. Nevertheless, the vehicle has to be able to handle the situation, even in rain and snow. Data exchange with the traffic infrastructure can be highly relevant here. 

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