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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation into 2008 Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickups, which was originally opened last year, has now ended without a recall. NHTSA was looking into steering failures on some 336,000 trucks.
The issue rested with the steering gear - NHTSA received five complaints of failures - which was redesigned in 2005. According to the report on the matter, investigators "found evidence of broken sector shaft gear teeth and piston damage consistent with incidents of single event overload."
NHTSA investigators, however, "found no evidence of fatigue or material property defects in any of the fractures. Analysis of complaint rates by vehicle build month showed no patterns indicating potential manufacturing quality issues and no difference before and after Ford introduced design changes to the input shaft and sector shaft seals in July 2007 to address potential leak concerns," according to the report, obtained by The Detroit News.
The Blue Oval's 'One Ford' mantra has seen rapid commonization of the automaker's products across markets, but North America still has to look from afar at most of the company's Max-branded people movers, including this new S-Max. That's a bit of a shame - we like the space efficiency and above-average driving dynamics of the C-Max models we do get, but seeing this updated seven-seat small minivan makes us want the One Ford initiative to extend even further.
The new model's changes include an updated powertrain range including a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four with 158 horsepower, and a larger, 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter model, along with a pair of revised lower-emissions 2.0-liter diesels. The big news, however, is the advent of available all-wheel drive, something that hasn't been offered since the S-Max first went on sale back in 2006.
On the technology front, the S-Max is the first European model to receive Ford Adaptive Steering, a variable-ratio technology we recently sampled in a prototype Fusion that is expected to go into production on the next-generation Edge. The S-Max also receives a new aluminum-intensive integral link rear suspension, packaged to continue to fit up to 32 different seating combinations. Safety equipment is always a prime concern in kinschleppers like the S-Max, and to that end, this new model receives pre-collision assist technology and LED headlamps.
Companies ranging in size from small startups to major automakers have been experimenting with solar-powered charging stations for EVs and plug-in hybrids. And, of course, people have been powering vehicles with onboard solar panels for quite some time, too. Still, Ford's new C-Max Solar Energi Concept shows the promise of a truly practical implementation of solar on a production vehicle, and it may not be as far off in the future as we had thought.
As we reported a few days ago, the Solar concept makes use of a "concentrator lens" that focuses sunlight onto the Ford's roof-mounted solar panels. The special lens follows the rays of the sun to maximize the amount of charge being fed to the batteries of the car, taking about a day to fully charge the 21-mile, all-electric range of the C-Max Energi. Ford data suggests that combination might be enough to power 75 percent of all trips made by a statistically average driver. In turn, using the sun to power a vehicle could reduce yearly C02 emissions by up to four metric tons when compared with the driver of an average gasoline-powered sedan.
We've got live images of the C-Max Solar Energi Concept, jauntily tilted on its display to best present it's signature solar panels, straight from the CES floor.