I’m a firm believer in the idea that technology should be forgiving. We’re humans, we’re distracted and busy and rushed and hungry and horny and have to pee and maybe sometimes all of these at once and, as a result, we don’t always do things the right way. That’s why the best engineering is designed to cut us some slack. That’s also why I love Ford’s Door Edge Protector that, absurdly, was only used on Ford Focuses, when, really, it should be on absolutely everything.
The need for something like a door edge protector is well known to pretty much anyone who has ever parked next to anyone else: conventional, swing-out car doors can whack into other cars. This causes body damage to both vehicles and then everyone involved is less happy, which is not the result anyone wants.
Sure, you could put permanent rubber guards on the edges of your doors, but those ruin the lines of a car, are subject to the elements that can make them as hard and likely to damage another car as the metal of the door, and probably have an aero penalty or reduce sperm count or something like that. They’re not a great solution.
What is a great solution is this:
Holy crap, that’s clever, right? Only Ford actually sold cars with this setup, but the actual engineering was done in partnership with a German company called Witte, who describes the system like this:
The door edge protection functions as follows: If the door is opened more than 15 cm a mechanically controlled system drives in a split second a protective strip of rubber and plastic from the inside of the door outwards around the door edge. If the door touches against something, there is usually no significant damage.
The system works with only eight moving parts and no need for any electric motor assists — it’s just mechanically actuated via the motion of the door:
Damn, that’s clever! I love it! Hey, let’s watch it in action again, on another car:
So good. What I like about this is that it’s something designed both to protect your own car and the cars around you — it’s an altruistic bit of engineering, something that actually makes your car more courteous and friendly to the surrounding cars, which is something I think all car-lovers can appreciate.
The setup was used on Focuses starting in 2012, and from what I can tell, that’s it. If it’s still on current Focuses, I don’t see a mention of it, at least not when I try and build one on Ford’s UK site, or look through the available options:
We don’t even get the Focus in America anymore, so if it’s still available on Focuses somewhere, they’re gone here.
And that strikes me as ridiculous. A little feature like this can’t add that much to the production cost of the car, especially if the basic components were used across the lineup, and I think it adds far more benefit to car ownership than may be initially obvious.
We park our cars all the time — most of the time we use them and most of those times we’re near other cars. I’ve had to use my fingers to prevent door-edge contact with other closely parked cars uncountable times because I don’t want to be the kind of dick that dings someone else’s car.
Something like this would just make using a car easier and more pleasant, period. Hell, I know for a fact my experience of owning a car would be more improved by the door edge protector thing than some stupid lane-keeping monitor that beeps at me, but which one comes on almost everything now?
The stupid thing.
Ford, wake the hell up! Call your pals over at Witte and tell them to come up with versions for all your cars, from Mustang to Mach-e to F-150, and then advertise the shit out of this instead of stupid ads that say meaningless horseshit like “Built Ford Proud” or the “Future is Built” or “We put our name on it,” whatever the hell that means.
“Our cars have a cool thing that keeps you from dinging your door into other cars” is the kind of motto that might make people pick a Ford over a whatever.
Alternately, other automakers, feel free to copy this idea, and you guys can fight it out in court while we all not ding each other’s doors.
UPDATE: It looks like these are still offered on Focuses!