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Image: Ford Escape Climbs Sky Tower

'Kiwi Ingenuity' Helps Ford Escape Climb Southern Hemispheres Tallest Structure

Ford New Zealand, Sky City Ltd and Auckland based vehicle accessory manufacturer Best Bars are the brains behind the current Sky Tower promotion, which has seen a new Escape Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) suspended 60 metres above the street.

Jon Botha, Manager of Environmental and Safety Engineering for Ford New Zealand, said that the world-first project had been a particularly challenging one.

"From an engineering point of view, there is a lot to think of to make sure that the whole process of lifting the Ford Escape and fixing it in place goes off as smoothly as possible," he said.

"Not only did we have the usual forces of gravity to contend with, but there is the changing vehicle center of gravity and transition from horizontal to the vertical during the initial lift phase, and then the powerful oscillating and swirling winds that are channeled between the central city office buildings."

Best Bars, a company that works closely with Ford developing and manufacturing vehicle accessories such as towing mechanisms and nudge bars, is the firm that constructed the frame that holds the Ford Escape to the tower.
"Before the Escape even got off the ground, hydraulic strength tests were conducted on the whole vehicle/frame combination to one and a half times the working load to ensure that it maintained structural integrity," said Best Bars CEO, Michael Parker.

"In addition, a key part of the design job was to make the frame in such a way that not only is it strong enough, but is also 'invisible' to the average person looking up at the vehicle from ground level."

Apart from having to remove part of the rear exhaust pipe as well as all the vehicle fluids and the battery; the Ford Escape was not modified in any other way. Once it's trip up the sidewall of the tower is complete, it will again be ready to use on the road.

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