Ford’s ‘Drift Mode’ For EVs Revealed In Latest Patent Filings - SUV VEHICLE

Ford’s ‘Drift Mode’ For EVs Revealed In Latest Patent Filings

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Ford Motor Company, an automotive giant with a rich history of innovation, has recently filed a patent for a groundbreaking ‘Drift Mode’ feature designed specifically for electric vehicles (EVs), aiming to provide drivers with an exhilarating experience that is traditionally associated with internal combustion engine (ICE) sports cars.



The concept of a Drift Mode in EVs is a unique approach to enhancing the driving experience, as it allows drivers to engage in controlled slides and other performance-oriented maneuvers. This technology leverages the unique characteristics of electric powertrains, such as instant torque delivery and precise control over power distribution, to deliver an engaging and dynamic driving experience that is both exhilarating and environmentally friendly.

This move by Ford is a significant step in the evolution of electric vehicles, as it demonstrates the company’s dedication to not only producing eco-friendly cars but also vehicles that cater to the needs and desires of performance enthusiasts. By offering a Drift Mode, Ford is positioning itself to attract a new generation of drivers who are eager to embrace the electric future without sacrificing the thrill of driving.

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In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Ford, and other reliable sources.


Ford Revs Up For Controlled Slides

A recently published patent application reveals Ford‘s foray into a new frontier: “drift mode” for both internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric vehicles (EVs). This development adds an intriguing layer to the ongoing narrative of Ford embracing the performance characteristics of electric mobility.

Patent Unlocks Secret Weapon For Drifting

Filed in 2020 but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in December 2023, the patent outlines a unique approach to inducing drifts. The proposed system utilizes a car’s friction brakes to momentarily lock the rear wheels, initiating the slide. Simultaneously, the wheels would be decoupled from the drivetrain via clutches, allowing them to spin freely. An actuator would then maintain rotation by applying torque, effectively keeping the car in a controlled drift.

Interestingly, Ford claims this system’s adaptability extends beyond EVs, encompassing ICE vehicles and hybrids as well. This versatility distinguishes itself from existing drift modes offered by competitors like BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, which typically rely on directing more torque to the rear wheels.

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Traditional Drift Modes

Gray 2024 Ford Mustang
Ford

While Ford’s new patent for a drift mode utilizing locked rear wheels presents a unique approach, it’s worth noting that established methods exist in other vehicles. These traditional drift modes primarily rely on altering power distribution or traction control to induce controlled oversteer, the key ingredient for drifting. Here’s a closer look at some common approaches:

  • Torque Vectoring: This strategy relies on sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems to dynamically adjust torque distribution. By sending a higher proportion of power to the rear wheels, particularly the outside rear wheel during cornering, the car’s natural tendency to oversteer is amplified, inducing a controlled drift. Popular examples include BMW’s xDrive with M Performance mode and Mercedes-AMG’s Drift Mode available in specific models.

  • Power Oversteer: This classic technique involves using the throttle to control the car’s balance. By quickly applying and releasing power mid-corner, the driver can momentarily break traction on the rear wheels, causing the car to lose grip and initiate a drift. This method requires finesse and a deep understanding of vehicle dynamics, but skilled drivers can achieve spectacular results.

  • Handbrake Drift: Pulling the handbrake briefly while in a corner can abruptly lock the rear wheels, causing the car to lose grip and slide sideways. This technique, popularized in rally racing, is considered more aggressive and challenging to control compared to other methods. While effective, it demands significant practice and is often discouraged due to potential wear and tear on the handbrake system.

  • Electronic Drift Brake: Introduced in the 2024 Ford Mustang, this system electronically simulates the pulling of the handbrake, simplifying drift initiation for even novice drivers. By momentarily locking the rear wheels through software intervention, the Mustang’s drift brake provides a more controlled and repeatable way to enter a drift compared to the traditional handbrake method.

These are just a few examples of traditional drift modes and techniques employed in various vehicles. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, catering to different skill levels and driving styles. Ford’s proposed approach using locked rear wheels offers a distinct approach, potentially opening up avenues for controlled drifting in both ICE and EV platforms. While its future remains uncertain, it certainly adds another interesting layer to the ever-evolving landscape of drifting technology.

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Exciting Thrill Or Risky Road Ahead

Yellow 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E
edmunds

While the technology promises exciting possibilities for controlled sliding and performance, it’s important to consider both the potential benefits and drawbacks before getting behind the wheel.

Advantages:

  • Enhanced Driving Experience: Drift mode can undoubtedly elevate the driving experience for skilled enthusiasts, offering a controlled and exhilarating way to explore the limits of their EV’s handling. This could attract new customers seeking a more engaging driving experience from EVs.
  • Improved Vehicle Control: The proposed system, using locked rear wheels and individually controlled torque application, could potentially offer greater precision and control during drifts compared to traditional methods. This could lead to safer and more predictable sideways maneuvers for experienced drivers.
  • Marketing and Branding: Ford’s focus on performance EVs, evident in the Mustang Mach-E 1400 and RallySport mode, could be further strengthened by a production drift mode. This could attract a performance-oriented demographic and establish Ford as an innovator in the EV space.

Concerns Still Exist:

  • Safety Risks: Drifting, even in a controlled setting, inherently carries risks.
  • Tire Wear and Tear: The aggressive nature of drifting will undoubtedly lead to increased tire wear and tear. This could be a significant cost factor for drivers who frequently utilize drift mode.
  • Battery Drain: The additional power demands of maintaining a sustained drift could significantly impact an EV’s battery range. This could limit the practical use of drift mode and raise concerns about its environmental impact.

Overall, Ford’s ‘drift mode’ patent presents an intriguing concept with both potential benefits and significant drawbacks. Careful consideration of safety, environmental impact, and legal implications is crucial before bringing such a technology to production.

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The USPTO System Safeguards Innovation

A blue Ford Focus RS Drifting
Ford

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Established in 1790, the USPTO acts as the guardian angel of intellectual property in the United States. Its robust patent system provides a structured framework for safeguarding new inventions, playing a pivotal role in fueling economic growth and fostering a culture of innovation.

A Well-Defined Pathway To Protection

For aspiring inventors like those behind Ford’s “drift mode,” the USPTO system offers a clear path to securing exclusive rights to their creations. This journey begins with choosing the appropriate type of patent:

  • Utility patents: For inventions with functional aspects, like new EV technologies.
  • Design patents: For aesthetically unique elements, like a distinctive car body design.
  • Plant patents: For novel plant varieties, potentially relevant for bio-based materials in EVs.

Once the type is chosen, thorough prior art research becomes crucial. This meticulous process involves scouring existing patents, publications, and publicly available information to ensure the invention is truly novel and distinct from what already exists.

With prior art carefully considered, the inventor drafts and submits a comprehensive patent application. This document serves as a roadmap for the invention, detailing its workings through precise descriptions, illustrations, and claims that define its unique scope.

Scrutiny And Refinement

The USPTO then takes the reins, meticulously examining the application to ensure it meets legal requirements and avoids infringing upon existing patents. During this phase, the inventor might engage in patent prosecution, addressing the examiner’s concerns and potentially refining the claims to enhance clarity or narrow the scope.

If the application successfully navigates this evaluation, a patent is granted, bestowing upon the inventor exclusive rights to make, use, sell, or import the invention for a period of 20 years from the filing date.

A System In Constant Evolution

While the concept of patent protection predates the USPTO itself, the current system we know today is a product of continuous refinement. The landmark Patent Act of 1952 established a standardized legal framework, laying the groundwork for the modern system. More recently, the America Invents Act of 2011 ushered in a significant shift, transitioning the system from a “first-to-invent” approach to a “first-to-file” one, prioritizing inventors who act swiftly to secure their rights.

Furthermore, initiatives like the Patent Application Initiatives (PAIs) and the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI) have been implemented to streamline the examination process and uphold the quality of granted patents. With its well-defined structure, rigorous examination process, and commitment to ongoing improvement, the USPTO system plays a critical role in nurturing the innovation that drives industries like the electric vehicle sector forward.

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