The Car Geek: Ford Bids Goodbye To Gas Caps

The Car Geek

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ford Bids Goodbye To Gas Caps

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mantra we’re accustomed to follow. But are you supposed to fix it when it’s already broke? I don’t think so. Obviously, it might hurt you; might as well throw it away.

Gas caps aren’t broke and useless. But FoMoCo will soon be bidding goodbye to them. In 2006, the automaker promised to wipe caps off its lineup. Now, the promise has finally made good.

Yes, the Dearborn-based automaker has found a new ally in capless system, the technology it uses in NASCAR. Ford will be offering the technology on select models such as the 2009 F-150, which was displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Aside from the next-gen F-150, the capless system is also featured on the 2008 Explorer sport utility set to roll out into dealerships this fall. It will also be available on the 2009 Flex crossover and Lincoln MKS sedan.

“The capless refueling system already is available on the 2008 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle, and it's coming to the 2009 Flex crossover and Lincoln MKS luxury sedan,” said Matt O'Leary, chief engineer on the pickup.

O'Leary said it's [capless system] something that they'll appreciate every time they fill up. "People just don't like the cap," he said. "Anyone who drives a vehicle hates that." Meanwhile, he expects auto rivals to eventually develop their own versions of the system which will be offered in their lineup.

Car Stuff has this to say about the innovative system: “The system, which came from Ford's NASCAR racing experience, first appeared on the 2003 Ford GT sports car. It has two small spring-loaded tabs that pull back a flap inside the fuel filler neck as the nozzle hits them. When the nozzle is pulled out, the flap closes.”

But not everyone is flabbergasted by the system. Aaron Bragman, auto analyst at Global Insight, called the system a nice "surprise and delight" feature, but said no one would buy a Ford because of it. "It's a nice addition, but by no means a decision-maker," he added.

Ford rival, General Motors, is adamant about the innovation. Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president for vehicle sales, service and marketing, said: “The removal of the gas cap never shows up like a problem in any of our research.”

The Dearborn automaker said all of its vehicles will be capless. And for now, I don’t if it’s gonna be a hit. The innovative system may not be as remarkable as the discovery of seatbelts but I think it’s worth a try. Given the opportunity, I’m gonna hit the ignition switch to experience a capless drive.