Crafted in secrecy, Ford GT to feature latest software
Ford Motor Co.'s 2017 GT supercar is anything but ordinary — and the same goes for the space where it was made.
Engineers and designers spent 14 months crafting Ford's halo car inside a secret room in the corner of the automaker's Dearborn Product Development Center. There are nearly no decorations inside the gray space, except for a "Teamwork" motivational poster near one of the clay model machines.
Few knew of the room's location, tucked at the end of a long basement corridor and flanked by barrels of used oil and storage shelves for extra pieces of foam, steel and other materials. Those who did were sworn to secrecy about the project until its reveal at the 2015 North American International Auto Show.
"We realized when we started the program we needed a small dedicated space with a small team somewhere out of the norm," Moray Callum, Ford's design chief, told reporters in a Monday tour of the facility.
The secret makeshift studio houses Ford's oldest mill, but quickly became the birthplace of its most advanced vehicle in terms of lightweight materials and performance capabilities.
"It's a very different entity than the first GT40 and the last GT we did," said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Performance.
Ford's 2005 aluminum GT had anti-lock brake systems, but the 2017 supercar will feature the full spectrum of driver-assist technologies.
"These systems are not just there for convenience," Hameedi said. "There's a very performance-driven purpose for all of these electronics systems."
The supercar includes more than 50 sensors that generate 100 gigabytes of data per hour and feed 28 microprocessors which control everything from tire pressure to door latches. The GT includes more than 10 million lines of code, about 8 million more than an F-22 fighter jet, Ford said.
"There is a lot of software and it is all mission critical," Hameedi said.
New software systems also help regulate the 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. It's the same engine that debuted on Ford's Taurus SHO and is on the 2015 F-150 pickup, but the GT engine includes custom pistons, rods, turbos and cams that will help it get more than 600 horsepower.
The GT also features a more simplified drive-mode control. The development team looked to the complicated drive modes on the 2013 Ford Raptor — it took three buttons to get to various modes — and cut that down to a single switch that can move through "normal," "sport," "track," and "wet" modes, which each offer different engine power, brake controls and other features.
The GT is the first production car that Ford will equip with active aerodynamics; a moveable wing at the rear of the car that will automatically move depending on how you're driving.
The car's interior features fixed seats bolted into a carbon fiber tub, although the steering wheel and pedals can move about eight inches to accommodate larger or smaller drivers.
The interior space was so small that designers had to put the air vents on the doors instead of the dash. The center console has just enough room to fit the smaller iPhone 6. "We had to be as lean and as efficient as possible," said Amko Leenarts, Ford's global interior design director.
The GT will be available in late 2016, and Ford will limit production to 250 a year. Ford says it will be priced competitively with the Lamborghini Aventador, which starts at around $400,000.