The Ford approach to ESV development was to attempt to meet government Experimental Safety Vehicle Program objectives by modifying a production vehicle by the use of materials and manufacturing processes suitable for mass production, and thereby hold cost increases to a reasonable level. This objective has not been met. However, improvements in vehicle structural integrity were accomplished in the experimental vehicle, and valuable engineering information was obtained. The methods employed to achieve these improvements did not prove to be feasible for established mass production techniques. They were highly experimental in nature, prohibitive in cost, and resulted in a weight penalty of 32% over a current production Ford.
The Ford ESV incorporates a special body-frame energy absorbing system designed to dissipate kinetic energy during a 50 mph barrier crash. The basic elements of the energy management system are a crushable frame, a controlled collapse fender apron structure, and hydraulic bumper struts. The system makes maximum use of available crush space while keeping the passenger compartment deceleration as low as possible. 50 mph barrier crash testing of ESV prototypes verified the projected passenger compartment deceleration performance for the final concept and demonstrated improvements in passenger compartment integrity.