Ford has a fella working for it known as Dr. Derriere. He got the name not for being a medically qualified butt inspector, but for his unquestionable dedication to the ongoing quest of designing the perfect car seat.
Real name Mike Kolich, the longtime Ford engineer is clearly committed to the cause. Just look at the top line on his LinkedIn page. It says simply: “Comfort at Ford Motor Company.”
Kolich, who has a Ph.D. in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, knows all too well about the importance of a comfy car seat. After all, millions of Americans hit the road pretty much every day for the commute, or periodically for cross-country road trips.
Shape and softness
Recently, Dr. Derriere has been talking about his team’s latest work — the newly designed front seat for the 2020 Ford Explorer.
Focusing primarily on shape and softness in an effort to ease the pressure on an occupant’s back and backside, the design also frees up space for those sitting behind by doing away with some of the seat’s bulkiness around the back and shoulder areas.
“Road trips can be largely defined by how comfortable people are, and when you get down to it, how comfortable our seats allow them to be,” Kolich explained in a release. “As engineers, we’re thrilled with this new seat, but really, it’s what our customers say and think that matters.”
Kolich revealed that although the redesigned seat is fitted inside the new Explorer, all Ford seats feature the same basic design beneath the surface.
“What people see in a Mustang differs from what they see in an Explorer, but it’s all built on the same architecture,” Kolich said. “That architecture is the magic, in that it allows us to maintain consistency. These [Explorer] seats should feel similar to the seats in any other new Ford vehicle.”
The new seat features “a V-shaped design that provides torso support for a wider range of body types and sizes,” as well as “a more sculpted appearance” that results in improved second-row knee room.
Offering further evidence of the appropriateness of his nickname, Kolich said that each seat design is subjected to more than 100 in-lab tests to find the perfect fit for your back and butt.
“Our lab testing has changed the way we operate,” Kolich said. “Not long ago, the industry didn’t have measurable objectives like we do today. We would build a seat, and from there it was trial-and-error. We’re smarter than that today — we know what people expect.”
It’s hoped the new design will be warmly welcomed by the many families planning to take a road trip this year, as well as all of those workers who climb behind the wheel for the daily commute.
Considering his reputation, we’re thinking Kolich may also be the person behind the “Robutt.” This Ford-made robot is used to test a seat’s durability over its lifetime, simulating multiple butts of varying shapes and sizes squishing, squirming, twisting, and turning in its seats. It certainly sounds like the work of a crack engineer like Dr. Derriere.