Public gets opportunity to test KU students’ work for Ford

A contributed photo of the Ford Taurus buck or car shell.

Some Sunday grocery shoppers could get a chance to test drive a car, in a manner of speaking.

The public will get an opportunity Sunday afternoon at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway, to jump in the driver’s seat of a Ford Taurus, and evaluate working models of steering wheels, consoles and dashboards developed by Kansas University students.

Not keen on taking prototypes designed by college kids on the road? Relax. The car is a “buck” — industry speak for a shell of a car. It has the moving parts in the front, but isn’t going anywhere; it lacks a back end.

The project is part of a partnership between the Ford Motor Co. and the KU Center for Design Research, part of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. Ford officials asked for KU’s help in redesigning, or even eliminating, the gearshift that has long dominated the center console of most vehicles.

Students have worked on the project for the past few months and are now asking the public to put in its two cents to help them further refine their work.

Ford will soon be in Lawrence to evaluate the students’ designs. It’s possible those designs could pop up in Tauruses, Fiestas and F-150s across the country.