From Supercar to Future Cars
Building the Ford GT to Test Technologies for Tomorrow's Vehicles.
As all-new, race-winning Ford GTs continue to roll into driveways around the world, many of the innovative technologies and advanced materials developed for the supercar will be finding their way into several of our next-generation cars, trucks, SUVs and electric vehicles.
“When we began work on the all-new Ford GT in 2013, the team had three goals,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president and president of North America. “The first was to use it as a training ground for our engineers as we develop future engine technology and stretch our understanding of aerodynamics. Then, to push the boundaries of advanced material usage such as lightweight carbon fibre. Finally, we set out to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, referred to by many as the ultimate test of endurance and efficiency.”
As to the latter, for the second straight year the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team podiumed at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours event. In a door-to-door battle of manufacturers, the #67 Ford GT pounced on a struggling Corvette to grab second place just as the chequered flag fell. All four Ford GTs finished the race, with last year’s race-winning #68 taking sixth place, followed by the #69 car in seventh and the #66 in tenth place.
When it came to our understanding of aerodynamics, a key goal for the GT was to give it greater stability and grip while accelerating, cornering and braking. So we created an aerodynamic system that features a unique, patent-pending, deployable wing that changes shape to maximize aerodynamic efficiency in varying driving conditions.
Aerodynamic efficiencies can also be found in the engine of the GT. The compact six-cylinder design of the car’s EcoBoost® engine allowed our design team to taper the GT’s fuselage to dimensions that a larger V8 would not have allowed. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine is our most powerful EcoBoost ever, delivering 647 horsepower. It was developed alongside the GT race engine and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine used in the F-150 Raptor high-performance off-road pickup, which shares almost 60 percent of its parts with GT’s engine.
Further improving engine performance, GT features an all-new port and direct dual fuel-injection setup to enhance engine response. The engine is paired with a responsive seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle for nearly instantaneous gear changes and exceptional driver control.
“When we began work on the all-new Ford GT in 2013, the team had three goals: The first was to use it as a training ground for our engineers as we develop future engine technology and stretch our understanding of aerodynamics. Then, to push the boundaries of advanced material usage such as lightweight carbon fibre. Finally, we set out to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, referred to by many as the ultimate test of endurance and efficiency.”
Executive Vice President and President, North America at Ford Motor Company
GT innovations such as carbon fibre lightweighting have shown promising long-term potential. Carbon fibre is an important new element because it enables us to create distinct body shapes that wouldn’t be possible with steel or aluminum due to the limitations of conventional metal stamping. For example, the GT’s iconic flying buttresses, which extend from the roof to the rear fenders, are only possible because carbon fibre can be shaped into the complex geometric design as cloth, and is then strengthened by curing at a high temperature.
The other key advantage of carbon fibre is its light weight, because weight savings in a vehicle has the potential to improve fuel efficiency and overall performance. Thanks in part to learning on the GT project and working with partners, including Multimatic and DowAksa, we’re already developing techniques to enable faster, high-volume production of carbon fibre parts.
By reducing the GT’s weight, we were able to implement some truly innovative technologies that make the GT even faster and more fun to drive, such as a customizable hydraulic suspension that changes ride height from normal mode into track mode with a turn of the knob. When the GT changes modes, changes in spring rates, matching damper settings, and active aerodynamics, come together to create two unique cars in one for optimal performance in specific driving conditions. The front-lift mode of the hydraulic suspension also helps GT clear speed bumps and driveways and then automatically returns to normal lower ride height when the car reaches 25 mph.
Our push into customized driving modes is expanding rapidly. The GT’s track mode is already helping Mustang and other Ford performance model enthusiasts maximize racing performance, while a Baja off-road mode is featured in the all-new F-150 Raptor. Other GT innovations hitting showrooms soon include the all-digital dashboard. The technology is currently available in the 2018 Mustang and will be coming to additional new Ford vehicles soon.