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Ford Five Hundred Achieves Top NHTSA Crash-Test Rating; Sales Indicators Strong

Source: Ford Motor Company Press Release

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 14, 2004 - Ford Motor Company today announced that the 2005 Ford Five Hundred has received NHTSA's top five-star crash-test rating for front- and side-impacts - the only 2005 model passenger car tested to achieve this performance without the optional side air bags.

Five Hundred's extensive safety engineering, which includes a structure with crush zones designed into impact areas, collapsible steering column, cross-car beam with "Space ArchitectureTM," front bumper plate and dual-stage front air bags, resulted in NHTSA's top crash-test rating. A two-row Safety Canopy™ side air bag system with rollover sensor is available and provides additional protection not only in certain side collisions, but in rollover events as well.

"It's a true testament to the Ford Five Hundred's safety engineering that it can achieve NHTSA's top crash score without the optional side airbags," says Steve Lyons, Ford Division president.

"While we recommend our Safety Canopy™ side curtain air bag system to any customer looking for an extra measure of protection, it is a tremendous accomplishment that the standard Five Hundred achieves such a high level of protection. This provides real peace of mind for customers shopping for a safe, stylish and capable family sedan."

Safer by Design

Ford's new D3 car architecture, which is shared with the Ford Freestyle, Mercury Montego and a forthcoming crossover vehicle from Mercury, is engineered to offer a structure with crush zones designed into impact areas. Excess energy is transferred around the passenger compartment into a high-strength safety cage. A patent-pending new design tailors the steering column's collapse to the driver's size and safety-belt use for enhanced protection.

Rear-impact performance is so advanced that it is designed to meet proposed future federal crash standards. Side-impact protection comes from a combination of available air bag technology and structural features that safeguard occupants from intrusion by channeling crash energy away from the passenger compartment. An innovative cross-car beam "Space Architecture" under the front seats reinforces the structure between the B-pillars, which directs energy away from passengers.

Frontal impact performance will meet the new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, which requires the restraints system to automatically adjust to the size of the front-seat passenger. The air bag controller uses front passenger classification sensing to determine if the seat is occupied, and if so, whether the passenger is an adult, a child or a child in a child safety seat. Air bag deployment is tailored - or altogether suppressed - to provide the proper protection. The lower anchors and tethers for children, or LATCH system, provide mounting points for compatible child seats in the second row.

Encouraging Sales Start

Consumer and other third-party responses to the Five Hundred have exceeded company expectations, with more than 40 percent of sales in October and November being to non-Ford owners. In addition, more than 85 percent of Five Hundred sales have been to retail customers - accounting for 0.4 percentage points of share in November alone.

"The Ford Five Hundred is meeting the goals that we set for it," says Lyons, "Five Hundred is driving a substantial number of new customers to the Ford showroom, the wide majority being retail customers.

"The initial mix of vehicles and options is extremely rich, our leasing numbers are more than double what we've traditionally seen in Ford Car and the vehicle is adding profitable retail share to our business," Lyons added.