A day after Toyota admitted to a software problem with its hybrid braking system, Ford Motor Co. says that it will update the brake-related software on the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid.
“We have received reports that some drivers have experienced a different brake feel when the hybrid’s unique regenerative brakes switch to conventional hydraulic braking,” Ford said. “While the vehicles maintain full braking capability, customers may initially perceive the condition as loss of brakes.”
“To be clear, the Fusion and Milan Hybrids’ brake system maintains full conventional brakes and full ABS function even as the customer sees visual indicators and hears a chime. The software threshold to transition from regenerative brakes to conventional brakes can cause the system to transition to conventional brakes unnecessarily. The software upgrade will reduce unnecessary occurrences of the vehicle switching from regenerative braking to conventional hydraulic brakes.”
Ford said there have been no injuries related to this condition. Customers with affected vehicles will receive a notice in the mail, asking them to bring in the cars to be reprogrammed at dealers at no charge. The company is calling the effort a “customer satisfaction program.”
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid was recently named the North American Car of the Year at the 2010 Detroit auto show.
The move by Ford will place regenerative braking—and all hybrid systems—under greater public and government scrutiny, rather than solely focusing attention on Toyota. Safety fears raised by the highly publicized incidents of runaway acceleration in many Toyota models, not just the gas-electric Toyota Prius, have created a climate of heightened awareness and sensitivity.
The harshest criticism against Toyota centers on the company’s delayed and vague response to both the acceleration and braking problems. By contrast, Ford is stepping forward with a proactive and definitive response. Despite what it most likely a driving experience issue, rather than a life-threatening safety problem, Ford is taking the problem seriously, and offering an immediate adjustment.