Engineering the 1999 Mercury Cougar Hybrid Instrument Panel 1999-01-0692
In a joint effort between Ford Motor Company, Visteon Automotive Systems, Textron Automotive Company, and Dow Automotive the 1999 Mercury Cougar instrument panel (IP) was designed and engineered to reduce the weight and overall cost of the IP system. The original IP architecture changed from a traditional design that relied heavily upon the steel structure to absorb and dissipate unbelted occupant energy during frontal collisions to a hybrid design that utilizes both plastic and steel to manage energy. This design approach further reduced IP system weight by 1.88 Kg and yielded significant system cost savings. The hybrid instrument panel architecture in the Cougar utilizes a steel cross car beam coupled to steel energy absorbing brackets and a ductile thermoplastic substrate. The glove box assembly and the driver knee bolster are double shell injection molded structures that incorporate molded-in ribs for added stiffness. The bolster shells are vibration welded together using the same ductile thermoplastic used for the substrate. The IP design content started with the same components from the Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique. However, through the extensive use of structural analysis and simulations a total of ten components were eliminated. Knee impact simulations were conducted to meet FMVSS208 requirements and head impact simulations were conducted to meet FMVSS201, ECE21, and ADR21 requirements. Modal analyses were also conducted to ensure IP natural frequency was not influenced with the reduction of the steel components in the IP design. The FEA simulations were compared to sled testing and modal frequency response testing to verify performance trends of the IP system throughout the IP development process. Mold filling simulations were also conducted to optimize gate locations and runner designs.