DEARBORN, MI – Ford Motor Co. has developed its own all-wheel-drive system for several upcoming sedans and cross/utility vehicles, rather than expand use of the system supplied by Swedish parts maker Haldex AB, Phillip Kurrle, driveline systems supervisor tells Ward’s.

The new system will be offered in V-6 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ (formerly Zephyr) midsize sedans and Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX CUVs.

Kurrle says there are several reasons why Ford decided to develop an AWD system in-house, instead of using the Haldex system employed in the bigger Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans and Ford Freestyle CUV.

“Trying to get that hardware across the ocean actually would cost us more than making it domestically,” he says. “We were also trying to get something that better fit the application. We were trying to engineer a system that was conducive to the (Fusion/Milan/MKZ) customer (and) flexible enough so we could also put it on the Edge and MKX.”

Cost and capacity also were factors in the decision to develop an AWD system in-house, Kurrle says at a media preview here of Ford’s ’07 models.

Haldex simply didn’t have the capability to supply the volumes needed for the midsize sedan and CUV programs, Kurrle says, and Ford was able to develop a simpler, more affordable unit.

The Ford AWD system is similar to that used on the Ford Escape CUV, he says, adding that Ford developed the system independently of its subsidiaries, including Mazda Motor Corp., which engineered its own system.

Being able to build the system in great quantities is essential to meeting earlier announced plans to sell 500,000 vehicles with fulltime AWD systems annually in the U.S. by 2007.

The Ford-developed technology is similar in many ways to the Haldex system, Kurrle says, without revealing exactly what changes were made. “This is a ‘slip-and-grip’ system. It detects the slip of the front wheels and transfers torque, similar to the Haldex system.”

The Ford technology, Kurrle says, is simpler than the Haldex system because it is “more electro mechanical (and) the Haldex is more of a pressure, hydraulic-based” system.

Despite the simpler setup, Kurrle is quick to point out that the Ford system is “designed and calibrated so it’s got as good a performance as the Haldex.”

The system eventually could make its way onto other Ford vehicles, including the Five Hundred.

Kurrle, who was wearing a shirt with the logo “4Drive” at the event here, says the moniker does not refer to a potential brand name for the Ford-developed AWD system. Rather, he says 4Drive is an internal slogan.

However, Fusion Marketing Manager Dan Geist says there is some ongoing internal discussion as to whether or not to brand the system, but “nothing has been finalized.”

bpope@wardsauto.com