Few of us expect the electronic devices we rely on to last very long. Cracked screens, slow-running software, and the appeal of the latest model can consign new smartphones, tablets and laptops to the bin after only a few years of use.
Now Ford has introduced a super-tough new version of a technology that most of us use every day – the humble ignition key – which is designed to last a lifetime in the hands of the most demanding drivers.
Ford tested the key – for Transit and Transit Custom vans – to ensure it could survive being submerged underwater for 30 minutes, dropped 50 times onto a concrete floor and exposed to temperatures from 60deg C to – 20deg C.
To all appearances the fob looks like any other ignition key, with a keypad to lock the vehicle and a flip-style key blade. However, to ensure it is completely waterproof, it is permanently sealed shut, with the two halves of the plastic housing joined by friction welding. The inside of the key is carefully designed to resist typical workplace impacts, and a rechargeable battery cell is charged whenever the key is placed in the ignition, to ensure it never runs out of charge.
“Our customers want a key which can tackle the hard knocks of construction sites and city deliveries, and keep coming back for more,” said Jonathan Allan, electrical engineering supervisor, Ford of Europe. “While a mobile phone can sometimes let you down, Ford has ensured that Transit drivers have a key which is just as rugged as their vehicle.”
Engineers also tested the key using using climatic chambers in temperatures simulating everything from desert heat to arctic cold, and in humidity levels of up to 100 per cent. Further tests included ensuring:
- Dust resistance – five hours surrounded by a fine, penetrating dust
- Chemical resistance – up to 96 hours continuous exposure to diesel, petrol, ethanol, detergents and sweat
- Pocket simulation – four hours non-stop vibration with coins and other keys
- Button durability – 10 button presses with 12 times the usual force
- Endurance – 100,000 activations in temperatures ranging from 50deg C to -10deg C
The shockproof key is the latest generation of a design which has been refined and developed with 10 years of feedback from Transit customers.
Ford’s new Transit and Transit Custom commercial vehicles are now on sale across Europe, and are powered by the all-new 2.0-litre Ford EcoBlue diesel engine which offers improved cost of ownership and performance, with fuel consumption reduced by up to 13 per cent compared with the previous model.