Ford puts cupholders through rollercoaster test

Company understands desire and necessity to have beverages close at hand

Published: August 26, 2017, 10:50 PM
Updated: August 31, 2017, 5:54 AM

Ford cupholder test

Ford prepares its products for uneventful family travel by subjecting its cupholders to what it calls the “rollercoaster” test.

Stella Lux interior (photo: TU Eindhoven, Bart van Overbeeke)

The company understands not just the desire to take along beverages on car trips, but also the necessity, as experts recommend doubling liquid intake to stay safe behind the wheel — research has shown that dehydrated drivers are almost as dangerous as drunk drivers, in relation to the number of errors they commit. The difference is that their reflexes allows them to correct errors more quickly.

“For drivers, being able to easily reach for a favourite drink is a fundamental part of a comfortable journey,” said Martin Dawid, manager of Body Engineering for Ford of Europe. “But more than that, staying hydrated on the move helps drivers stay focussed on the road ahead.”

And to ensure that drivers have a place to put those necessary beverages, and the car interior keeps them in their containers, Ford not only tests cabin uses for millions of km on public roads during product development, but it also takes vehicles to its test track in Merkenich, Germany, where it challenges cupholders to hold filled cups under 5g loads — the equivalent of some twists on theme park coasters.

2015 Dodge Charger - centre console

And you know that loud thumping bass-heavy music they play to attract riders to rollercoasters? Well it turns out they may not be the best soundtrack to ensure riders walk away from the coaster in a great mood.

Ford also created a Science of Sound study, with help from Spotify, where drivers across Europe listened to different playlists and then had their moods analyzed by New York University cognitive neuroscientist Amy Belfi. The study concluded that sad songs with a driving beat worked best to put drivers in a good mood for up to two hours after their commutes ended.