It is estimated that half the population will suffer some sort of back pain at some time in their lives, and with the amount of time people spend in vehicles, that means discomfort during some driving trips. Ford is taking that to heart in the design of its interiors.
Once an item limited to premium vehicles, multi-way adjustable front seats are making their way into entry-level and mid-level vehicles. In the Ford Focus, they come in the form of 18 adjustments for support and comfort for all body shapes and degree of mobility.
“Sitting in the wrong position can make the driver slouch forward, putting pressure on the lower back,” said Glen Goold, Ford Focus chief programme engineer. “Our goal with the Focus was to build an 18-way adjustable seat that adapts to every person, enabling drivers of all shapes and sizes to easily achieve their optimal sitting position for maximum comfort, especially on long journeys.”
The seats have received the seal of approval from Germany’s spinal-health organization Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V. (AGR), the first vehicle to receive the recognition from the independent testing committee of experts.
The primary criterium to receive the seal of approval is that the seat has to adapt to the user, rather than the user have to adapt a comfortable seating position according to the seat.
“The ergonomic quality of a car‘s seats is of utmost importance, especially for frequent drivers,” said Detlef Detjen, AGR managing director. “We’re delighted that Ford is joining in the fight against back pain by making comfort seats available for even more people.
Research indicates that people spend an average of an hour each day driving, not counting time spent in the seat during all the additional sitting tasks prior to getting on the roads. An hour (give or take) may not seem like a long time but for anybody suffering back pain, it seems like an eternity.
Further research shows that 75% of drivers suffer back/neck pain, muscle fatigue and/or restricted circulation directly related to not being able to sit properly behind the wheel. The result is that fatigue sets in more quickly, leading to tired drivers at the wheel, which could lead to increased risk of traffic incidents.
In addition to the usual fore/aft adjustments, Focus seats are adjustable for cushion height, length and tilt; thigh, back and neck support, and 4-way lumbar support.
The company ran track tests with a series of test drivers of different genders, heights, weights and body-shapes to get the seats to fit the widest possible vehicle occupant demographics. Durability testing was carried out over 150,000 km of real-world driving and 7,500 turns on Ford’s robotic bottom simulator.