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Ford buffer stops door damage

Ford's door-edge protector system could be the greatest family car innovation since the portable DVD player.

The Ford door-edge protector, introduced in Europe for the 2012 Focus, is being examined in Australia as an option for the Focus - and perhaps other models.

It is claimed to be the first active system designed to protect a vehicle's door edge, prevent costly dents and scratches and provide a buffer to protect neighbouring vehicles.

Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald says “it's one of those surprise and delight features that will make people think `why hasn't someone thought of that before?'.”

“It's something we're investigating for Australia. However, although the system operation looks simple, it is in fact quite complex and something that needs to be worked through by our engineering team.”

Ford would be likely to add the feature to the Thai-built Focus and maybe the Fiesta. The pop-out system comprises an additional door brace, an electronic clutch, a safe-guard sensor and levers for the rubberised door flap.

This flap fully extends when the door is opened less than 150mm and will retract in 60 milliseconds if the door is slammed shut. The clutch protects the flap if it is obstructed as the door is being closed.

Ford says a special rubber compound is used that can withstand thousands of usage cycles and creates a minimum of noise as it springs into position. The flap can be quickly and easily removed by heavy users, with a replacement unit simply clipping into place.

All this has to be designed, engineered and incorporated within each door on the production line. In Europe, the door-edge protector is an option that costs the equivalent of about $500. It is claimed to defend damage against more than 90 per cent of obstructions to the front doors and 85 per cent at the rear doors.

Ford of Europe says its research found that 57 per cent of UK motorists have reported carpark-related door damage and that 85 per cent of UK respondents did not believe other motorists would confess to damaging another car after banging a door.

Across Europe, Ford says 72 per cent of car-owning households have damage to their vehicle doors.