Most automakers focus on chassis designs as success stories in the shift toward modular product architecture. Ford has instead highlighted the many advantages of a common structure for its front seats, which are now shared between the Focus, F-150 and most other models.
Taking inspiration from office furniture and airliners, the modular seat design is based on a common skeleton that can be clad in various 'top hat' leather or cloth seat covers. Designers aimed to make the seat snug near the hips, preventing sliding while driving, but with freedom of movement for the arms and legs.
The universal skeleton supports a "plug and play" system with more than 30 different individual configurations. Add-ons include inflatable lumbar, bolster and massage bladders, adjustable lumbar supports, heating and cooling systems, cushion extensions and independent thigh supports, among other components.
The structure is now used in 90 percent of Ford's North American vehicles, most recently the 2016 Ford Explorer. It will continue to be expanded gradually to global markets in the coming years.