Ford invested some $700-million (Canadian) to prepare the Oakville Assembly Plant for the production of the second-generation Edge. Among the technologies deployed is this camera-based system, which is used to find any dirt on the surface through the application of light at various angles. Some 3,150 images are captured in 15 seconds for each vehicle; these images are subsequently stitched together and used to generate a 3D image that is compared to a master, thereby locating any dirt on the surface.
The 2015 Ford Edge is designed to appeal to a wide range of customers, as it is available in more than 100 countries. Kevin George, who headed up the exterior design efforts for the midsize crossover utility, acknowledges that given the success of the first-generation Edge, efforts were made to capture elements of its design in that of the new vehicle.
Note how the tail lamps are integrated with the backlight and connected by a ribbon along the bottom of the backlight.
The previous-generation has vertical lamps that stand alone.
Among the objectives for the design of the interior was to make sure that there are high levels of refinement, such as not only making all of the surfaces likely to be touched soft touch, but also paying attention to things like fasteners and making sure that their heads are covered.
Hereâs a prime example of what they mean when you hear the men and women of Ford talk about âOne Ford.â
The new 2015 Ford Edge was designed and engineered in Dearborn, Michigan. It is based on Fordâs global midsize platform, CD4, which is also used for vehicles including the European Mondeo, which is close kin to the Fusion in North America.
The Edge is being produced in Canada, at the Oakville Assembly Plant. Ford added 1,400 people to the plant and invested $700-millionâCanadianâto retool and expand the facility.
Edges built in Oakville are going to be shipped not only to North American markets, but to South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and, for the first time, Western Europe. In all, more than 100 countries. Yes, other markets will get right-hand drive and a diesel engine.*
Speaking of engines, the U.S. market will have three. There is a 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6. A 315-hp, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. And a 245-hp, 2.0-liter I4. The first two engines are produced at the Ford Lima Engine Plant, Lima, Ohio. The last at the Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 in Brook Park, Ohio.
This international focus in execution and marketing: Thatâs âOne Ford.â
So what about the Oakville plant?
Oakville is about 22 miles southwest of downtown Toronto.
The plant has been up and running since 1953.
In addition to the Edge, Oakville Assembly, which has approximately 4,500 employees, is home to the Ford Flex, the Lincoln MKT, and is where the 2016 Lincoln MKX will be produced.
Notably, not only were the 1,400 new hires given training to help them build the new Edge, but throughout the plant, employees were provided with training to handle the new systems and processes put in place.Â
So what did the $700-million Canadian bring to the 5.5-million-ft2 plant?
They installed more than 250 new robots and upgraded 1,000 more.
Theyâre using robots to apply urethane to glass for purposes of consistent sealing to reduce wind noise. New robots are installing panels, doors and hoods, reducing process variability. Robots are laser brazing the ditch joint on the roof, to help provide a smoother finish for the design.
There are vision systems on the line to assure closure panel flushness. There isÂ optical 3D dirt detection tech in the paintÂ shop to locate any imperfections that might not be caught by the human eye.
And at Oakville they have a keen eye on environmental approaches. It is the first North American assembly plant thatâs zero waste-to-landfill.
Investments were also made in LED lighting. They replaced some 7,000 lights with LEDs, which is resulting in a savings of approximately 15-million kilowatt-hours per year.
Kevin George headed the exterior design for the new Edge, the second generation of the vehicle. He describes it as âan evolution, not a revolution.â
Meaning, they knew that the first-generation was doing comparatively well in the market, so if you have something good to begin with, there is little point in making unnecessary changes.
George says, âThe first thing people notice when evaluating a vehicle isÂ the silhouette. We did experimentÂ quite a lot with different silhouettes on this package, but Edge has some classic features that we wanted to retain.â
So what did they hang on to? âThe way the grille is swept back in profile, the short hood leading to a fast windshield. The windshield center line flattens out. We have a backlight thatâs angled forward. And doesnât sacrifice usable space behind the rear seat. We kept the overhangs low.â
But you donât design a new vehicle by sticking entirely with the template of the old. And the canvas is somewhat bigger as the 2015 Edge has grown in length from 184.2 in. to 188.1 in., with a wheelbase increase of one inch (to 112.2 in.). At 68.6 in., it is 1.6 in. higher than the previous vehicle, though the width, at 75.9 in., is the same for bothÂ
âWhat we changed was the surface language,â George says. âThe previous Edge was very modern, and what âmodernâ sometimes means is âreduced.â It was very clean in its body side. We added sculpture to the body side through reduction.
âEdge had a shoulder that joined the rocker with a smooth line, with one break at the shoulder. We started with that and carved out a new, sort of sexier shape. What that does is make it look more light weight because we removed a lot of visual mass.â
The previous Edge was slab-sided.Â This isnât.
âWe replaced the monolithic protectiveness with agility,â George says. The design of the previous Edge is âtough like a boxer.â The new one is âtoughÂ like a sprinter.â
âFor Edge, one of the things that is iconic is that the headlights are joined to the grille graphically,â George says, so that has been retained and refined. The grille of the 2015 model features the hexagonal surround that has be- come characteristic of Ford front ends.
In addition to which, âWe retained the three-bar motif, but three negative spaces become the three bars.â In the previous generation, the three bars are two bars of the same size and one big one, running horizontally across the front of the vehicle.
The top of the hood is akin to a power dome. We didnât want to indicate that the engine is growing in size. So we have these two strakes running down the hood.â
Around back, theyâve gone from vertical lamps that were separated by body color and connected by body color. On the new vehicle, the taillights are connected to one another via a light bar and to the backlight (the taillights are framed in black to match the tint of the backlight).
âNot reinventing the profile was actually a smart thing for us to do because instantly you know itâs an Edge. But when you zoom up and get closer to the vehicle and start reading the details, you see there are a lot of differences.â
The interior design was headed up byÂ Hak Soo Ha. âWe spent a lot of atten-tion to detail. On the outgoing model we had a lot of exposed fasteners and inconsistent color matches. With this model, it has really been cleaned up.â
And the inner is in some ways a reflection of the outer: âThere are a lot of dynamic qualities on the exterior; we wanted to bring that into the interior. There are a lot of sculptural qualities to the lines. And we made the interior open and airy.â
There is, however, a greater contrast, in some ways, between the interior of the 2015 model and the previous incarnations. He suggests that the inside of the predecessor was âPlain-Jane. Now there is more decorative stitching, the use of piano black for surfaces, and more tailored details.â
Whatâs more, Ha points out that on the original Edge, there was a hard plastic instrument panel and hard plastic door panels. When the vehicle underwent its mid-cycle refresh, the IP went to soft-touch material, but the doors remained rigid. âOn the new Edge, everything that you touch is soft: the IP, the console rail, door, door insert.â Additionally, he points out that while the arm rest was soft before, it was comparatively short. Now it is full length, front and rear.
The final word goes to JD Shanahan, Edge chief engineer, who brings us back to the beginning. âThe all-new Edge has been remade in every single detailâalways keeping in mind the customer who expects something distinctive and powerful.
âWith a structure more rigid than ever and a suspension tuned to the highest global standards, the 2015 Edge is a high-tech utility that delivers a special driving experience customers will feel from their initial moments behind the wheel.â
Note that it is about the global customer.Â
*This said, it should be noted that there is another version of the Edge, a China market exclusive produced in Hangzhou. It is longer than the Edge described here and features three rows.