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Driving in Torrential Rain Just Got Easier, Ford Headlights Adjust Automatically as ‘Cloud Burst’ Events on the Rise

  • Ford’s Weather-Dependent Lighting technology automatically adjusts headlights to help drivers spot roadside hazards in extreme heavy rain
  • After detecting a downpour the system shortens and widens the headlight beam to better illuminate the side of the road and reduce glare for other drivers from flooded roads
  • Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent across Europe, with some areas experiencing fewer but more intense rain showers
  • Tech is available now on many models as part of Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System

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COLOGNE, Germany, Sept. 15, 2016 – Even for experienced drivers, torrential rain can quickly transform a comfortable journey into a stressful one, as the road ahead becomes more difficult to see. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent across Europe and Ford vehicles now offer Weather-Dependent Lighting technology that automatically improves visibility when the heavens open.

The system ensures a wider and shorter beam that better illuminates pedestrians and cyclists at the side of the road and reduces glare for oncoming traffic. Part of Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System, the technology is activated through windscreen wiper activity, ambient light conditions and driving speed.

“Many drivers will have experienced a ‘cloud burst’ event – a sudden downpour that can quickly make it a challenge to even follow road markings,” said Thorsten Warwel, manager, Lighting, Ford of Europe. “Ford has for some time offered automatic headlights and windscreen wipers. Now our Weather-Dependent Lighting technology helps drivers to tackle even more demanding driving conditions.”

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One U.K. study shows that relative accident rates can increase by up to 82 per cent when it is raining. 1 Research also highlights that from a driver’s perspective, when rain water levels rise above road markings, even reflective markings can disappear under the glare of headlamps. 2

Countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and the U.K. experienced floods this year. According to a report from the European Commission, the intensity of rainfall has increased even in some areas with decreased average rainfall. 3 The European Environment Agency predicts heavy rain events across most of Europe will increase between 5 per cent and 25 per cent in summer and between 15 per cent and 35 per cent in winter during this century. 4

In the U.K, 2015 was the seventh wettest year on record. Seven of the U.K.’s 10 wettest years have occurred since 1998. 5 The U.K. government this month announced that new flood defence plans will anticipate between 20 per cent and 30 per cent more extreme rainfall based on research by the Met Office for the National Flood Resilience Review. 6

The Adaptive Front Lighting System adjusts the headlight beam angle and intensity to match the driving environment, such as a longer, straighter beam for better visibility further ahead at motorway speeds, or by directing light further into a bend when cornering on country roads. Testing included a purpose‑built light simulation area and test drives in night-time conditions around the globe.

Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System is available for models equipped with high-intensity discharge Xenon headlights – including C-MAX and Grand C-Max, Focus and Kuga – and for models equipped with Ford Dynamic LED headlights – including Edge, Galaxy, Mondeo and S‑MAX.

Further sophisticated Ford lighting technologies include Glare-Free Highbeam that removes the guilt of accidentally dazzling other drivers, and helps users see more of the road ahead at night. The system avoids drivers having to dip their headlights by simply blocking those rays that would otherwise shine in the eyes of other road-users, and is available for S-MAX, Galaxy and Edge.

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Editor’s notes

  • Following its wettest December on record, the U.K. received 152 per cent of its average rainfall during January 2016, marking its fourth wettest January since records began in 1910. Eastern Scotland observed its second wettest month on record
  • In 2016 Dublin airport, Ireland, reported its wettest January since 1948, with 118.4 mm (4.7 inches) of rainfall, close to twice its monthly average
  • Northern Norrland, Sweden, experienced three times its average rainfall during February 2016
  • According to Denmark's Meteorological Service, the nationally-averaged rainfall for April 2016 was 67.5 mm (2.66 inches) – Denmark's wettest April since 1998
  • Much of northern and central Europe experienced above-average conditions during June 2016. Several locations across The Netherlands received more than 200 mm (7.87 inches) of rain during June. Limburg Ysselsteyn received a total of 277 mm (10.91 inches) of rain, setting a new record for the month of June. Averaged as a whole, the nation had a total of 118 mm (4.65 inches) of rain during June 2016 – twice the normal monthly total
  • Rainfall across the U.K. in June 2016 was 139 per cent of average, with much of England and Wales observing more than twice their monthly normal rain total 7

1 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214367X13000069

2 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258316669_Review_of_the_Mechanisms_of_Visibility_Reduction_by_Rain_and_Wet_Road

3 http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/working/regions2020/pdf/regions2020_climat.pdf

4 http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/precipitation-extremes-in-europe-2/assessment

5 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/about/state-of-climate

6 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/551137/national-flood-resilience-review.pdf

7 http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2016

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About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 203,000 employees and 67 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs and electrified vehicles, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. At the same time, Ford aggressively is pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.  For more information regarding Ford, its products worldwide or Ford Motor Credit Company, visit www.corporate.ford.com.​

 

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 53,000 employees at its wholly owned facilities and approximately 68,000 people when joint ventures and unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 24 manufacturing facilities (16 wholly owned or consolidated joint venture facilities and 8 unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.

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