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Ford's Drift Mode Might Come Back, Here's the Patent for It

Remember the Focus RS? Remember its Drift Mode? There’s a new patent filing that shows Ford intends on bringing a new, updated, and improved form of the Drift Mode that we’ve previously seen. Here’s how it’s going to work.
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Before we dive in, you must know that patents are not guaranteeing us anything. They might do it, but at the same time auto companies can prioritize anything else over a certain technology or invention. It’s up to the carmaker how it’ll make use of its resources.

That being said, it’s still a good signal that Ford keeps its eyes open to what some of its former or prospect customers want. The large majority prefer SUVs and trucks. It’s nothing wrong with that. But there are other people in the market an automaker as big as Ford should look forward to pleasing. And in what better way can they do that other than reminding everyone that a Ford can be loads of fun, right? Enter the new Drift Mode.

The patent doesn’t indicate a new model on which we’ll find the new system for controlled slipping, but it shows us how it will work. The USPTO filing is also not definitive, as the technology can be improved over time or some parts of it might end up being changed in the final form.

The new Ford Drift Mode uses the same basic principle of drifting: rear wheels are locked for a very short period of time to allow for loss of traction between the tires and the road. It’s pretty self-explanatory at this point. You know how drifting works. The American automaker insists on using a performance braking system for its new technology, even though it says in the document that it “can be costly or involve significant labor based on complexity.”

The car used as an example to explain its new Drift Mode is a rear-wheel-drive mild hybrid (mHEV) that, of course, has a differential and an engine that’s connected to either a manual or an automatic.

Ford’s system will comprise a controller that’ll be programmed to decouple the driven wheels from the engine or motor and engage the friction brakes to lock up the driven wheels. It places the power generating unit in speed control with the help of a command that’s able to assess the difference between what the driver’s doing and what’s needed to happen. Essentially, this Drift Mode will be an assistant for those that want to slide their cars gracefully and don’t have the necessary experience or skill for it.

When the driver ends Drift Mode, the system disengages the brakes, couples the wheels, and puts the engine or the motor back in control of the torque in a normal, predetermined manner, by using values from the pressure put on the acceleration pedal.

The best thing this Drift Mode does is that it renders useless a hydraulic handbrake only professionals have. There’s no need for it. The digital system will help you look like you’re mastering every bit of the drift. If you’re looking for more technical details, you can find them in the document attached below.

The good news is Ford doesn’t limit this new Drift Mode to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars only. It even says in the filing that “the teachings of this disclosure are also applicable to an electric powertrain.”

If you’ve never gone drifting, then you sure saw a video of it or some kids having fun in a parking lot. What matters most here is the fact that Ford is preparing something performance-oriented again. The Drift Mode patent gives Ford fans and prospect customers hope.

 Download: Ford Drift Mode Patent Filing with the USPTO (PDF)


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