Group 20 - Ford Mustang Power Wheels - Gate 1
Figure 1: Fully assembled product. Photo courtesy of Zack Wilson.
|Name of Artifact||Ford Mustang Power Wheels|
|Assembled in||Monterrey, Mexico|
This work proposal is to provide an overview of how our group plans to reverse engineer our product, the Ford Mustang Power Wheel.(Figure 1) The use of specific tools along with a detailed approach for disassembly, is necessary to clearly document the process. Through analysis of the tasks at hand, the group has completed a detailed schedule of tasks to be completed documented in our Gantt chart (Figure 2). In analyzing the product and each group members capabilities, we have taken in to account various strengths and weaknesses of each member. Though there may be shortcomings of individual members, working as a group will help alleviate any difficulties we may have and help to complete the project in a timely manner.
Capabilities and Challenges
In order for a successful completion of this project, it is essential to identify each group member’s specific skill set, as well as their particular shortcomings in each field. In correlation with this idea, each group member developed an individual capabilities profile for themselves. A collective list of the group’s capabilities were compiled and assessed in order to determine which aspects of this project we were strong in, and which ones needed improvement. Overall as a group we are proficient in all the skills needed for this project such as, labor, technical documentation, management, software skills, and presentation. A detailed listing of each group's member capabilities can be found in Table 1.
Since a large portion of the project includes the dissection and later reassembly of the product, identifying the most skilled laborers in our group is essential. Based on our individual analysis, most of our group members have previous experience with the disassembly of mechanical systems in one form or another. For example Dave has had past experience and can provide leadership in this area while Joe who has had limited exposure will benefit from it. In addition, Shane was determined to be extremely proficient in manual labor, including knowledge and use of various technical tools and machines, which will be crucial to a successful dissection and reassembly of the product.
While much of this project will be focused on the correct and thorough dissection of the product, a vital section will be based on the technical data being compiled and documented in a professional manner. In this area each group member has some basic knowledge of this concept, however no one group member excels at technical documentation, merely due to lack of exposure in this field. Our background knowledge coupled with additional information from lecture will form a strong foundation on which to improve. Throughout the course of the project, our skills in technical documentation will develop and grow.
For any group to function properly, a hierarchy of management is essential. While each group member is capable of successfully leading the group for this project, certain individuals of seemed to be more naturally suited to this position than others. In this case, Zack and Mike took the lead for this project position and were deemed to be the best and most efficient at management. This leadership ability will be crucial in the future in the development of the Management Profile, as well as in assuring that all group and individual work is completed in a professional and timely manner.
During the course of this project, various types of software will need to be utilized. Computer skills such as, the use of Wiki, a drafting and modeling software, and Microsoft Office programs, will be used frequently in developing our report and presentation. This is a field in which every group member is particularly well-versed in, with the sole exception being the development of the Wiki. Based on our individual capability profiles, Joe is the most skilled at software in general, especially pertaining to the Wiki relative to the rest of the group. Likewise, Chris is very adept to computer applications and, through working with Joe, will quickly become a solid second software specialist.
In order to wrap up this project, the group will be required to present their results. For most of the group there appears to be a fair amount strength. Based on our current capability assessment, our group feels as if Mike, Chris, and Zack all are particularly strong. However, no individuals have been selected as definitive presenters of the final report and analysis of the design and dissection of the product. Rather, our group plans to accomplish the preliminary tasks, such as developing a product profile and analyzing it, before a selection is made. This allows the group to better evaluate each member’s familiarity and understanding of the subject matter that will be presented, and thus be able to present the material in a more confident and accurate manner.
Based on the strengths of our group, we do not anticipate many overwhelming challenges or obstacles in this project. We believe that our group will be able to function together in an efficient manner to be successful. However, the one major challenge we have determined will be a hindrance in our dissection and analysis of the product is the fact that none of the individuals in our group have much experience or knowledge with how real cars function. Since our product is a toy Ford Mustang car, a background in automobiles and how they work would be useful in our disassembly and reassembly of the car. It would allow us to make a better judgment as to which parts to remove first, based both on connection and function. Also, a knowledge of how a car functions would yield a better analysis of the product as a whole. This being said, we still believe that this is a challenge that we can overcome through the combined strengths and efforts of all six group members. While a background in the workings of a vehicle would assist in our dissection and analysis of the product, it is not essential in order for our group to be successful, especially since we can increase our knowledge through research and hands-on experience with the Ford Mustang.
|Mike Rossi||• Experienced with most tools, devices, (mill, press, drill, etc.), assembly and disassembly
• Proficient in MS Project (Gantt Chart), CAD, Excel
• Management and Coordination
• Detailed Presenter
• Good Technical Writer
• Strong Group Worker
|• No experience with Wiki or Photoshop
• Low Background on workings of mechanical systems or cars
• Can be wordy or overly detailed
|Zack Wilson||• Previous Experience with Tools and Disassembly
• Group Management and Coordination
• Skilled in Excel, CAD and Solidworks Software
• Comfortable Presenting
• Strong Group Worker
|• Technical Writing
• No Wiki Experience
• Low background in cars
|Christopher Michels|| • Has a general understanding of how most mechanical devices work
• Strong Group Worker
• Skilled in Excel, CAD, and Photoshop
• Quick learner
• Confident Presenter
• Excellent at Technical Writing and Proofreading
• Low background in cars
• No Wiki Experience
|Technical Editor in Chief|
|Joseph Glab||• Skilled in Excel, Photoshop, HTML and other web-based languages
• Quick Learner in regards to software
• Strong Group Worker
• Thorough Documenter of Data
|• Little comfort with Group Management
• Nervous Presenter
• No experience with disassembly
|Head of Web Development|
|David Fijas||• Basic Knowledge of tools
• Skilled in MS Excel and Project
• Skilled in time and group management
• Strong Group Worker
• Detailed Presenter
• Good technical writer
• Excellent at Documentation, both hard and soft copies of reports and data
|• Little experience with disassembly
• No experience in Wiki
• No knowledge of cars
• Can be nervous during a presentation
|Head of Dissection Documentation|
|Shane Seefeldt||• Experienced with most tools
• Has prior experiencing with disassembly and assembly
• Skilled in Solidworks and CAD
• Good at following directions
• Strong Group Worker
• Is a very hands on person
|• Little comfort with Group Management
• Not an experienced public speaker
• Not experienced with technical writings
• Dislikes documentation
• No knowledge of Wiki
|Head Dissection Specialist|
Plan for Reverse Engineering of Product
For this project Group 20 was given the task of dissecting, analyzing, and developing a product profile for a Ford Mustang Power Wheels Car. In order to complete the project in a timely and professional manner, a procedure for the dissection and documentation of the car is necessary. An outline of our plan for reverse engineering the product is detailed below.
- Philips screwdriver
- Used to remove Philip's head screws
- Flat Head screwdriver
- Used to remove flat head screws
- Assist in separation of plastic pieces
- Included “wrench” (see Figure 3)
- Used to remove hex nuts assumed to be within the product
- Soldering Iron
- Used to remove soldered leads on motors, switches, and other electronic parts
- De-soldering Pump
- Used in conjunction with soldering iron to safely remove solder
- Test electrical connections
- Measure voltage and current within the electrical system
- Removal of small pieces
- Retrieve pieces within small confines
- Safety Glasses
- Protect eyes when dissecting
- Protect hand from various lubricant that may be present
- Also protect against any sharp surfaces that may be encountered
- Take pictures of of systems, subsystems and components within the product
- Will allow the group to keep our dissection organized and provided references for reassembly as well as analyzing our product in the future
- Record dissection for presentation and could possibly be used for reference during reassembly
- Record steps of disassembly
- Record detailed analysis of individual components/systems and how they work together in full product
- Work in conjunction with photographs taken/ give more detail of position of parts pictures are unable to convey
Anticipated Dissection Procedure
Based on our original assessment of the product the group plans on the physical deconstruction of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels Car to be relatively straightforward. Upon initial inspection, there does not seem to be any overly complicated parts or procedures needed to dissect the Power Wheels. The reverse engineering process will consist of three major steps, which will be thoroughly and properly documented and recorded, that will result in the dissection of the car from outside to inside, as detailed below.
As with any engineering process and mechanical dissection, safety is the number one priority. In order to uphold the highest degree of safety, our group plans to utilize preventative measures in or reverse engineering of the Ford Mustang. Such measures include wearing safety glasses and gloves when appropriate, as well as employing the proper use of tools. Safety glasses will be required by all group members working in the dissection lab, as well as whenever tools or machines are being used. In specific cases where sharp surfaces or lubricated components come into play, gloves should be utilized by individuals dealing with these situations. In addition, the first step in the dissection process is to remove the battery. This will keep any electrical energy from being discharged from the system, avoiding accidental electrical shock. In addition to electrical shock, by removing the battery our group can avoid breaking the cell and leaking any acidic battery fluids.
2. Outer Dissection
Once the battery is removed and all safety procedures have been followed, the disassembly of the outer portion of the car can begin. Removal of any components that appear to be solely for aesthetic purposes will done first. This includes the car’s hood, spoiler, and corresponding body panels. We believe that this can be accomplished through the use of both screwdrivers and the included wrench. Once this has been completed and documented, the only remaining outer components to be removed will be the steering column , side mirrors, and the interior of the car. Since the interior of the car seems to be made up of just the seats, dashboard, center counsel, and door trim, these will be removed last. These parts are secured to the chassis by Phillips Head screws and thus can be easily removed by the use of a Phillips Head screwdriver. This concludes the disassembly of the outer section of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels.
3. Chassis Dissection
Upon completion of the outer dissection of the car, the remaining inner system mainly consists of subsystems and components that perform a specific function. We plan to disassemble the chassis of the Ford Mustang into its corresponding subsystems. These inner subsystems can be separated into categories of mechanical and electrical function, and then be further broken down into their corresponding components. Such subsystems include the drive train, steering system, and the physical pieces of the chassis. These systems appear to be connected through Philips head screws and will be removed by the screwdriver.
4. Subsystem Dissection
Housed by the chassis, individual subsystems can be dissected into their individual components. In the decomposition of the drive train, the hub caps can be separated from the wheels, which in turn can be removed from the axle using the included wrench. Once the wheels have been removed the gear boxes should be able to slide off the axle next. If needed, the motor leads can be removed using a soldering iron and desoldering pump in order to remove the motor in case any attached wires prevent removal. The gearboxes can then be dissected by removing the outer covering held together by screws and mechanical snaps. The gears can then be separated from the housing. To complete the drive train disassembly, the axle will be removed from the chassis support. After this is completed, we will begin dissection of the steering system, starting with removing the hubcaps and then the wheels similarly to the drive train. When the wheels have been removed, the steering column will be taken off the linkage. If possible, the axle supports will be separated from the linkage as well. Following the steering system, the electrical system will be removed possibly being comprised of switches, wires, and connectors. We will use the screwdriver, soldering iron, and desoldering pump when necessary. The last subsystem that will be left is the chassis, which has already been dissected for the most part. In order to further decompose this subsystem, the two main sections of the chassis will need to be separated using a screwdriver. Once this is completed, the car will have been broken down into it’s most basic components and the dissection will be complete.
It should be noted that the dissection procedures outlined above are based solely on initial visual inspection of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels and thus the procedure may change as we reverse engineer the product. Based on these assumptions and the above procedure, we expect that this entire process will take approximately 10 hours to fully dissect and document the Ford Mustang Power Wheels Car. While simply taking the car apart may only take one or two hours, documenting and recording each step will slow down the process greatly. In order to ensure professional and complete documentation of the dissection process, a methodical, detailed, and time consuming procedure will need to be followed. However, this is just an estimate of the time needed, and it may in fact take more or less depending on how complex the inner workings of the product are.
For the MAE 277 course project we, the members of group 20, propose the following managerial plan to complete the project and its accompanying gates in a professional and timely manner. In order to successfully accomplish our tasks and meet the deadlines, we recognize that a division of roles, responsibilities, and tasks is necessary. In order to make sure that all tasks are correctly completed, we plan to appropriate specific tasks based on each group member’s capabilities. With this assignment of roles, every member’s responsibilities and expectations will be both documented and explicitly defined.
Division of Labor
In addition to dividing up the major tasks of the project, such as dissection and documentation, between group members, subgroups and sub-tasks will be defined as needed by the respective group leaders or the project managers. This will allow us to complete different sections of the project concurrently and allow us to ensure that every portion will be finished on time. Having sub-tasks will provide further detail to each task so that we have a more specific idea of what exactly needs to be accomplished before we can proceed.
Revision: Upon completing Gate 2, Group 20 chose to implement a new measure to allow aspects of the project to be worked on collaboratively by group members from separate locations. The group found that it was extremely useful and advantageous to have all group members utilize Google Documents to share ideas and information from remote locations. This proved useful because group members could work on portions of the project on a Google Document while other group members proofread and edited. Group 20 believes that this will be quite useful in the completion of future gates (10/25/10).
For meeting times we have set aside an ample amount of time to accomplish tasks. Making mandatory group meetings will help with accountability and task completion. Each week we plan to create a meeting form/agenda that accounts for which members are present and will outline tasks already accomplished as well as new tasks to be completed for the week. Using these documents will clearly identify what has been completed, as well as what other tasks still need to be finished. This will prevent us from having large gaps of time in between tasks and allow us to adhere to a structured timeline. In accordance with these aforementioned ideas, the following outline details our managerial plan for the project. This outline further specifies individual tasks, responsibilities, and expectations, as well as defines the structure, hierarchy, and management of our group.
- Mike Rossi- On-Site Manager
- Zack Wilson- Remote Manager
The projects managers responsibility is to distribute main task to subgroup leaders. They also determine when the group meets, attempting to compensate for group member's varying academic schedules.The use of two project managers allows for flexibility in meetings; allowing meetings to occur if only one manager can attend. The project Co-Managers must be able to resolve conflict within the group as well as having the final say on all major decisions.
Head Dissection Specialist
- Shane Seefeldt
The head dissection specialist coordinates the entire dissection process. He develops the methodology for the dissection of the car as well as allocate the dissection tasks to other members of the group.He must account for all components removed during a given dissection section as to not lose parts.He is also responsible for a reassembly plan for the car.
Head of Dissection Documentation
- Dave Fijas
The head of dissection documentation works in coordination with the dissection specialist to properly document the dissection of the car. This thorough documentation will help with the reassembly of the car. He also divides documentation tasks up among members present at a given dissection session. He will also document the process through the use of media such as pictures and videos.
Head of Web Development
- Joe Glab
The head of web development is responsible for transmitting work done with other software in to the Wiki. He configures all data to be included in figures,tables, and equations.The web developer works with the head of documentation and the editor to compile information in to the Wiki. He also maintains the group email and the documents stored in Google Documents.
Technical Editor in Chief
- Chris Michels
The editor is responsible for standardizing the project material to present it in a professional manner. The editor works with the web developer to determine the final format of the report on the Wiki page. He is also responsible for documentation of sources and proper formatting of charts and tables.
Meeting Times and Locations
Group Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Managed by Joe Glab
General meeting times
- Tuesday: 6:30-9:00 PM
- Wednesday: 6:30-9:00 PM
- Thursday: 3:30-9:00 PM
- Major Group Meeting (Weekly)
Meeting locations will be dependent on the task at hand.
- General meetings in Capen Library
- Dissection meetings in Furnas 621
- Technical meetings in Governors Residence Hall
Conflicts regarding group member performance will be documented anonymously through group email and will be brought up for discussion at the next group meeting. Multiple offenses by the same person will be then forwarded to the Professor.
Click Photo to Enlarge
Preparation and Initial Assessment
Initially our group preformed an inspection of our product without doing any dissection. Based on mechanical, aesthetic, and other physical evidence, our group developed an assessment of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels Car. This assessment allowed the group to formulate a course of action in dissecting the product with the appropriate tools and procedures.
Product Development Profile
Product History and Development
In 1971, Fisher Price came out with the first model of Power Wheels, a type of toy car in which young children can ride and operate. Over thirty successful years later, the new Ford Mustang Power Wheels car rolled onto the the ride-on toy market scene. Being released for production and sale in 2009, the Ford Mustang was also developed by Fisher-Price, a subsidiary company of Mattel, with a profit motive in mind. Based off of the real Ford Mustang, a car that is a popular among adults, the Power Wheels version was meant to resemble its real life counterpart as closely as possible. Prior to the modern Ford Mustang Power Wheels’ release in 2009, Fisher-Price had already manufactured and sold an earlier version of the Ford Mustang. However, in 2005, the real Ford Mustang was redesigned, with a new and sleeker look then its predecessor. Correspondingly, Fisher Price took note of this new design and, in order to maintain as realistic of a model as possible while keeping the demand for their products, they began work on a new model of Ford Mustang in 2007. This new Mustang was based not only on its real 2005 counterpart, but also on the modern day Shelby, and came fully equipped with a plastic and operational “radio.” By 2008, the Power Wheels series had been well established; with its release of the new Ford Mustang model, Fisher-Price planned to increase both their production quota and their total profit margin for the series as a whole.
The Ford Mustang was produced solely for good outdoor weather conditions, and does not operate well in weather conditions such as snow, rain or on surfaces such as mud or sand. Designed to be operated in more rural or suburban areas, the Power Wheels are not well suited to be used in places such as large cities or coastal regions due to lack of space or appropriate surfaces. One of Fisher-Price’s main priorities in producing Power Wheels cars is to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the user. This means ensuring that the user knows when and where the car can be safely operated as well as how to safely drive the vehicle. Since the model is geared towards younger children, Fisher-Price designed the Ford Mustang with a “high speed lockout” for beginners. This lockout can be removed to double the speed of the Power Wheels, however it requires the use of a screwdriver; thus it is unlikely that any toddler would be able to remove the lockout by themselves and operate the Ford Mustang at an unsafe speed.
Product Recalls and Safety Modifications
Before the new Ford Mustang model was on the market, the Power Wheels’ core (excluding changes in the design aesthetics of the different models available) have been improved majorly two times, both requiring major recalls, as a result of flaws that were found in the then current systems. The first recall occurred in 1991 and involved the 18 Volt Porsche 911. The contacts in the foot pedal switch would occasionally weld together while the vehicle was in use. If this happened, the motor would continue to run, even if the petal was lifted, and so the car would move continuously move forward (or in reverse depending on what motion the car was doing prior to the welding of the foot pedal switch), and was unable to stop. To fix this problem, Fisher-Price replaced the pedal, which was fitted to completely eliminate the possibility of the contacts being welded together.
In 1998, Fisher-Price underwent another major recall of almost 10 million Power Wheels vehicles, both in the 12 volt and Super 6 volt models. The issue in this recall was that the battery fuses and connectors were overheating and causing fires during the batteries charging process. This lead to over 150 homes being damaged or destroyed due to fires caused by this design flaw. The enormity of the recall led to a new design in future Power Wheels which incorporated a new type of connector into the battery system. In addition to this, Fisher-Price offered to inspect each car affected by the recall and replace the faulty parts of the battery and vehicle. Prior to the 1998 recall, Power Wheels cars utilized a “H” type connector in the battery.(Figure 4) These weaker connections were the main cause of the battery’s overheating and the corresponding fires. For the initial recall, the battery fuses of the vehicles were replaced and the battery connectors were strengthened. For their future cars, Fisher-Price began manufacturing their Power Wheels with the larger “A” type connectors.(Figure 5) Ultimately, Fisher-Price has improved the design of their Power Wheels in order to maintain an acceptable degree of safety and provide a better product to the consumer.  
Economic and Global Concerns
While these aspects were considered in the manufacturing of the Ford Mustang, Fisher-Price also designed the car with economic and global factors in mind to make the vehicle as desirable as possible. When the newly designed vehicle was first released, the economy was in a recession. Though this may seem like an inopportune time to release a new $300 dollar children’s toy, the power wheels had some very good traits going for it. In 2009, people became very conscious about gas and its soaring prices, and the effects that products had on the environment. Because all power wheels run solely on electricity to move, and purely human power to turn the vehicle, people could take comfort in the fact that their children could play as long as they wanted on the car, and all that would be needed when it started to lose power was to plug it in. And because it is pure electrical power, there is no pollution from the Ford Mustang, making it even more of a good choice for parents. Although electrically powered vehicles do not always equate to a good buy and may actually be priced more than they are worth, in this case marketing a ride-on toy powered by a rechargeable battery greatly decreases the cost of ownership when compared to a gas powered car. Ultimately, because the Power Wheels is a toy and not a real car, electrical power is more cost effective for the user than a gas powered vehicle. This allowed Fisher Price to focus less on these benefits for the Mustang, and more on the price at which they would sell it at, namely, showing consumers that they were getting a lot of bang for their buck. Fisher-Price proved this by making the new Power Wheels with a more realistic styling and an added “radio”, which gave consumers additional and improved features without increasing the price. With respect to global concerns, since the Ford Mustang Power Wheels is not intended by Fisher Price to be sold outside of the continental U.S., global concerns were not taken into account in the original design and production of the vehicle. This means that laws, cultures, and regulations outside of the U.S. were not accounted for in the design and production process.
Product Sales, Distribution, and Support
The Ford Mustang, like all Power Wheels is produced in Mexico, however, is made to be sold solely for for Continental U.S. Market. While a foreign consumer may be able to purchase a Power Wheels, other vendors, such as Fisher-Price and Amazon, do not ship to areas outside of the continental U.S. Therefore if a consumer wishes to purchase a Ford Mustang Power Wheels, another method of shipping must be established. Being a relatively costly yet durable item, the Ford Mustang is intended to have a long life, needing little maintenance or repair aside from the charging and eventual replacement of the power source. In order to further make the vehicle a good deal, Fisher-Price also included a one year “bumper to bumper” warranty in the $300 price. This warranty covers any defects in manufactured materials or any damage inflicted upon the car under normal use in addition to supporting the car battery for six months. This provides parents with the satisfaction of being able to receive a replacement car or battery in the event that something damages their current one. However, it should be noted that any self modification to the car’s performance components such as the motor, violate the terms of this warranty. Thus if a consumer wishes to “soup up” their Power Wheels with upgraded parts, Fisher-Price is not responsible for any damage incurred to either the car or the individual. Because of their long life expectancy and rare redesign of individual models, the Ford Mustang, along with other Power Wheels, are meant to be sold on the market for as long as possible. Given the fact that Power Wheels have been successfully sold and produced for almost forty years, it can be assumed that they will continue to be purchased by consumers.
Intended Impact on the Consumer
In manufacturing the Ford Mustang Power Wheels, Fisher-Price intended for the consumer to be positively impacted by the use of their product. Our group contacted Amber Pietrobono, a representative of Fisher-Price, and her response to the impact that Power Wheels had on customer was “Power Wheels vehicles are cool!” By this she meant that the ultimate goal behind these vehicles was to allow children to have fun and enjoy themselves. With the different models available, chances are parents will be able to find a model of a car that they have always wanted, or one they know their kids want. Because of the reasonable price tag, people will have no problem buying their kids their dream (toy) car. Ultimately, the main purpose of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels was to provide users and with a sense of enjoyment and allow them to be able to have fun driving their own miniature version of a Ford Mustang. 
Purpose of Project
The purpose of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels is first and foremost, to entertain the user. These cars are meant to give the user the impression of riding in and driving a miniature automobile, and in this specific case, a miniature sports car. Like previous Power Wheels cars, the Ford Mustang model was designed and marketed as a toy that could be used by toddlers and young children. Fisher Price, the Ford Mustang’s manufacturer, lists this specific model as suitable for children ages three years and up. However, since the Ford Mustang model falls into the Power Wheels category of “Ages 2 -6 years old, it can be inferred that two year old children may also utilize this toy. However, it should be noted that this product was not manufactured nor intended to be used by older children or adults.
Designed to be completely customizable with respect to aesthetics, the Ford Mustang allows the user to improve on the appearance of their model as they wish, by attaching racing stickers and decals to the body of the car. However, these decals (Figure 6), which range from an imitation speedometer to a fake Michigan license plate, are completely optional can do not affect the car’s performance in any way. This allows one to personalize their model as they see fit, providing the user with an additional activity other than simply driving the car around.
Intended Use and Benefits
The Power Wheels series, which includes various models such as a Ford Mustang, are intended solely for outdoor use, either on hard surfaces or grass. For instance, these ride-on vehicles could be operated on surfaces such as, sidewalks, asphalt, and lawns. It should be noted that, both for user safety and to prevent damage to home floors, Fisher Price states that the Ford Mustang is not to be operated indoors. If it was, the tires of the car would most likely damage the interior flooring of the building, and there is a risk that a toddler could drive the vehicle down a set of stairs and thus cause bodily harm to the both the Ford Mustang and the child. 
Designed as a fun and “cool” toy, the Ford Mustang Power Wheels comes equipped with several realistically detailed and functional features. Such features include the Ford Mustang logo on the grille and seats, cup holders, adjustable seats, chrome wheels, and an operational toy radio. These characteristics make the toy car seem more like its realistic counterpart and thus be more enjoyable to the user. The radio (Figure 7) is a simple device that has two functional buttons which the user can press to produce a horn sound or other “cool” sounds. Something as simple as this radio greatly increases the child’s enjoyment of the Ford Mustang because young children are usually amused by funny and loud noises. In addition, the Ford Mustang Power Wheels includes two speeds, 2.5 mph in low speed, and 5 mph in high speed, as well as being able to drive 2.5 mph in reverse. This permits more advanced children to drive the car at faster speeds and thus have more enjoyment in operating the car while allowing less experienced drivers still use the Power Wheels.
While the Ford Mustang can be driven by a child individually, it should be noted that since the car is designed to operate under a maximum load of 130 pounds, up to two young children may ride in the car at one time. Given that the car is modeled after its real life counterpart, it is a two seat convertible complete with a passenger and driver’s seat, as well as seatbelts. Since multiple children can play with the Ford Mustang at the same time, toddlers can improve their social skills. By taking turns driving and sharing use of their cars, children can make friends and enjoy the toy more by playing with it in a larger group.(Figure 8) Since the Power Wheels are rather durable and are relatively expensive compared to other toys and ride-on vehicles, they are ideal for a large group setting such as a daycare center or an elementary school. Here the consumer could buy one or two Power Wheels such as the Ford Mustang, which could then be utilized by a large amount of children over the course of a few years. In this case, the owner of the toy car would only have to worry about recharging and eventually replacing the battery of the vehicle. The proper removal and recycling of the car’s battery is an important, and yet often overlooked impact on the consumer. Once the car’s 12V battery is exhausted, it must be properly disposed of in order to prevent harm to both the environment and the user.
Impact on the Consumer
Despite the fact that the Ford Mustang Power Wheels is a fun toy for kids, buying one of these toy cars impacts the consumer and user in other ways as well. The Ford Mustang, being modeled after a chic and sporty car, is marketed as a trendy toy for a young child. Like an adult owning a real Ford Mustang convertible, there is a certain “cool factor” that comes with owning a model Ford Mustang Power Wheels. Children want to be “cool” be able to drive around in their own car to make themselves more like adults. Since the Power Wheels is a popular toy, children want to have one to be able to play with their friends by racing or driving with them in their own car.
In accordance with these ideas, the Ford Mustang Power Wheels impacts adults as well. Due to marketing and social pressures, parents might feel obligated to purchase a Power Wheels car for their child in order to make sure they are happy and not left out from their peers. While parents may not be able to afford to buy themselves an actual Ford Mustang, they could most likely afford its ride-on counterpart for their child. Also, like any toy, some parents would buy their child a Ford Mustang in order to keep them busy and “out of their hair.” However, while playing with the car may be an activity that children can (but should not) perform autonomously, storing the car when it is not being used could become an issue to the consumer. Being a relatively large toy, approximately 20”x30”x60”, and weighing over 50 pounds, the Ford Mustang’s bulk creates a storage issue for the consumer. Anytime when it is not being used, it will have to be placed somewhere safe, whether in a shed or in a garage, in order to prevent damage or theft. This could prove to be a hassle for those who buy the Ford Mustang, especially since it would most likely only be used during warmer weather, and for only a few years depending on the age of the child.
Furthermore, by buying a child a ride-on car, adults take on the responsibility of having to supervise the children using the car in order to prevent the child from being injured. Being young and immature, children need to be closely watched when operating the Power Wheels. In order to ensure the safety of both the toy and the child, parents should make sure that the Ford Mustang is being driven on a safe surface and not on main roads or steep hills. Unsafe usage of the toy car could lead to the car being tipped over or gaining an unsafe speed and thus becoming potentially dangerous. Also, since young children are not experienced drivers, adults should monitor who is around the Ford Mustang to make sure that the driver does not crash into an animal, tree, or another person. Ultimately, although it may seem that in purchasing a Ford Mustang toy car only impacts the consumer in entertainment, in reality it requires a lot more attention and can actually provide a learning opportunity for children.
Educational Value and Learning Opportunities
While the Ford Mustang Power Wheels is intended mostly for entertainment, it does have some educational value to the user. Upon purchasing the Ford Mustang, the user obtains a Power Wheels kit which includes the necessary parts and instructions for the assembly of the car; however, it does require users to assemble the model themselves. The use of tools such as screwdrivers and an included “wrench” are required to put the car together correctly. Since the Ford Mustang is mainly for younger children, the child’s parents or another adult would most likely assemble the product, and thus much of the engineering aspect of assembling the car will most likely be lost. However, especially for slightly older children (ages five and up), parents could include their children in the basic assembly of the car. Since the Power Wheels is rather simple and safe to assemble, it provides adults with the optimal opportunity to teach their children about the proper and safe use of basic tools. For example, a seven year old could, with close adult supervision, learn the difference between Phillips and flathead screwdrivers as well as how to properly use them. This gives the user an educational benefit in the form of construction of the Ford Mustang, while still fulfilling its job of amusing the consumer.
In addition, since the Power Wheels are modeled, both in looks and functionality, after real vehicles, they provide the added benefit of developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Given that the cars are operated solely by young children, who likely have no prior driving experience, driving the Ford Mustang model presents them with the opportunity to learn the basics of operating a (smaller scale) motor vehicle. One of the most important things that owning a Power Wheels can teach a young child, and even an adult to some extent, is vehicular safety. With the large amount of automobile accidents on the roads today, it is imperative that children be taught from a young age how dangerous cars can be if they are not used safely. Prior to operation, an adult should evaluate the conditions of the driving area as well as institute rules of the road to be followed by the children. For example, children should be taught that, despite being seemingly entertaining, they should not stand up since this could cause the vehicle to tip over. Also, driving a Power Wheels provides the opportunity to impress on children the necessity of paying careful attention when they are driving a vehicle. The technical and safety lessons that could be learned from the operation of the Ford Mustang would prove to be very useful to children as they become older. Ultimately, while the Ford Mustang Power Wheels does have some educational value, it is mainly intended to be used as a toy to be enjoyed by toddlers and small children.
Expanded Recreational Use and Product Improvement
As previously stated, the Ford Mustang Power Wheels was originally developed to entertain the user in the driving of the model. While one can use and enjoy the toy car with just the items included in the basic kit, other items are available for purchase from either Fisher Price or other manufacturers to accompany the Power Wheels. Accessories and upgrades range from as simple as extra decals, to a practical ride-on car cover (Figure 9), to more powerful motors for greater driving capabilities. Most of the products, such as a new light and siren system or a map holder, are relatively cheap and are priced under $15. Most of these cheaper upgrades enhance the aesthetics of the Ford Mustang and do not improve the car’s performance in any way. 
However, this is not to say that there are no products to improve the capabilities and performance of the Ford Mustang Power Wheels. Rather, being a product geared towards young children, most mechanical improvements of the Power Wheels are done by adults who want to create a faster and more efficient toy car to amuse both themselves and their children. For people who feel that 5 mph is too slow for a toy car, they can purchase various ride-on upgrades. It should be noted that Fisher-Price does not recommend or sell any mechanical or electrical upgrade parts that are designed solely to increase the speed, durability, or output of the Power Wheels due to safety issues. Other vendors such as HobbyMasters.com sell various upgrades such as 14” Jeep tires, a more powerful 10 turn motor, and an extended runtime 6V battery. (Figure 10) By adding new parts like the 10 turn, 16.8V motor, one can increase the speed of the car and the overall durability of the motor, especially for if used in collaboration with a battery with a greater runtime. Stronger and more durable tires can allow for the Power Wheels to be operated on less durable terrain like muddy or rocky surfaces. Once the Ford Mustang has been upgraded, its performance would be greatly improved and thus would provide for more enjoyment to the user, albeit due to a decrease in safety. Ultimately, although the Ford Mustang Power Wheels car is capable of being improved both in performance, it is not recommended by Fisher Price to add extra parts because it would cause a decrease in the safety of the user, which, seeing as the intended user is a young child, can be very dangerous.
The Ford Mustang Power wheels power source and first energy type is chemical energy in the form of a 12 Volt battery. A small amount of the chemical energy is converted into electrical energy and powers a circuit board that monitors if the foot petal switch has been activated. This chemical to electrical energy also will drive all the rest of the energy forms and the vehicle itself. When the foot petal is pushed down through kinetic energy, a force created by a child’s foot, the mechanical energy of the petal being pushed down pushes a switch which causes the circuit board discussed above to send electrical energy to two gear boxes that are connected to the rear wheels. The electrical energy is transformed from electrical energy to mechanical energy, more specifically rotational energy, in the spinning of the different gears. This rotational energy then spins the rear tires of the vehicle to spin, also rotational energy. The rotational energy of the wheels causes the vehicle itself to be propelled linearly, converting rotational energy into kinetic energy. In the interior of the vehicle, there is also a shifter, which when moved takes the mechanical energy of the movement, and pushes one of three different switches. Depending on which of the three switches is pressed, the circuit board will cause the gear boxes to either spin with rotational energy clockwise, clockwise but with a faster rpm, or counterclockwise.
The Ford Mustang steers by taking the rotational energy of the steering wheel, supplied by the human user, which is connected to a steering shaft, which translates the rotational energy into linear motion to move a metal bar. The metal bar is connected to two disks, which in the linear motion of the bar, causes these disks to move rotationally, causing the front tires to rotate left and right.
The radio of the Ford Mustang runs on three AA batteries. The chemical energy of these three batteries transforms into electrical energy to power the circuit board and speakers of the radio. When the buttons of the radio are pressed, the mechanical energy of the button being pressed down causes the circuit board to send electrical energy and translates this energy to mechanical energy in the vibrating of the speakers to produce the sound. The magnitude and frequency at which the vibrating of the speakers is driven through a program that is written on the circuit board.
How complex components are can be based upon the complexity of the component’s design and individual function. the interaction between these components can also be classified as either simple or complex as well. By analyzing the Power Wheels Ford Mustang one can, with using educated assumptions, decide what components are used and how each component will interact with one another.
Quantity of Components
|Front Wheel Supports||2|
Complexity of Components
Some components of the car can be considered as fairly simple in complexity. In terms of design, most of the body pieces, interior pieces, chassis, and wheels are composed of an ABS plastic and fabricated using a simple forming process. Some metal components such as the axles, steering column, wheel supports, and linkages are all made out of a steel and require few manufacturing processes. Both of these factors in respect to design show that the design is simple in this instance. For individual function, these plastic pieces are also fairly simple . The components themselves just serve the purposes to be aesthetic and protect the internal components from the user or environment. Through analyzing both factors for the plastic components support the conclusion that these components are simple in complexity.
Next the components that could be more complex should be considered. The components such as the motors, gear boxes, wire, switches, and battery all are composed of more materials than the purely plastic pieces.(Figure 11) Along with multiple materials, the manufacturing and fabrication processes are also more complex. There will require more steps to product the component. For example the motor has a casing, coils, shaft, etc. each that must be made and assembled with multiple process. With multiple materials and fabrication steps one can conclude that in terms of design these components will be considered complex. While these components may be complex in design, the individual function of each could be considered as simple. Wires transmit electricity, gear boxes and motors output rotational motion, switches change the electrical path, and a battery will output electricity. Each of these functions have one or possibly two uses and therefore support the idea that the individual functions of these components are simple. By combining the complex nature in design along with the simplicity of function, one could consider these components as somewhat complex.
Complexity of Component Interactions
While components are simple or complex, the interaction of these components could be different depending on how they function together.
For the plastic body and interior panels that were fairly simple individually, they continue to be simple when considering the way they interface. Most of these pieces all are connected together using screws which is a fairly simple process in itself. The higher function the panels serve connected together is aesthetic as well as provide some protection for the internals from the user as well as the environment. However both of these functions are simple in themselves.
The internal components that were viewed to be somewhat complex overall, their interactions could be considered more complex. These components interface to perform higher functions and all require each component for the function to work properly, if at all.
Many components are included in the electrical system. The interactions between these components is complex and each is required for the intended function of the product to be operational. The battery sends electricity through the wires to the speed selector switch. Depending on the position, the switch then sends the proper amount of electricity to the motor once the circuit is completed by pressing the gas pedal switch. These components all are required for this system translate electrical energy of the battery into the right amount of mechanical energy from the motor and therefore therefore the interactions are complex.
There are also a few components of the drive train to consider.The interactions between these components of this system is only somewhat complex. Once the motor accepts the electrical energy and begins outputting rotational movement, the gearbox translates that motion to a different form of rotational movement by changing the RPM and torque. The gear box then couples with the rear wheels to translate the rotational motion to lateral movement of the car. (Figure 12) Each component of the drive train is required for the system to be operational, but there are only a few steps and the operations are only fairly complex.
There are also a few components in the steering system to take into account. The interactions within this system are also only somewhat complex. Once again each component is required for the system to function properly. The steering wheel takes the rotational motion provided by the user and then passes it to the steering column. The steering column translates the rotational motion to linear motion in the tie rod linkage. The linkage then passes the linear motion to the Wheel supports and translates the motion back to rotational at the wheels. These motion transfers are somewhat simple in themselves but also change the form of motion and therefore becomes partially complex.
The Ford Mustang Power Wheels is comprised of various exterior components. The outer shell (body) of the car and the main chassis system are both made of plastic, most likely ABS. Seats, dash components, mirrors and the shifter are all made of plastic as well. The Mustang’s four tires and their accompanying rims are also made of plastic. Seatbelts are made of Velcro for an added safety feature. Metal screws are used to hold together many of the exterior components. A layer of paint coats the outside of all the plastic parts, differing in color depending on the part. Decals are optional and can be placed accordingly if desired.
The interior of the Ford Mustang also has a variety of parts. One of its main systems is the steering column which has a couple metal rods and pins to connect the two front tires and assist in steering. The rear axle is also made of metal, most likely stainless steel. The battery is the Mustang’s power source and has wire connections that lead to the motors. Those connections are most likely made of copper wires and are wrapped with insulators. Solder holds these wires together and keeps the connection strong. The wires go to the motors which are made of metal, stainless steel probably. Within the motors we can assume that there are gears inside, made of either plastic or some type of metal. Along with the gears we can assume that inside the motors is some kind of lubricant too. Screws and other various fasteners made of either plastic or metal can be assumed to hold all the interior components together as well.
User Interaction Profile
The Power Wheels Ford Mustang has a similar interface to real vehicles. There is a steering wheel for turning, a pedal for acceleration, a radio, an ignition switch, and a lever to allow the selection of forward or reverse movement. The toy is powered by a battery located in the front, under the hood. It is turned on or off by connected or disconnecting the plugs going to the battery. Once activated, the user can then step on the acceleration pedal to make the product move, using the steering wheel to make turns. The ignition switch and the radio cause the dashboard to light up and make sounds, entertaining the user. There is also a battery life indicator, which lets the user know when the battery is low on energy and needs to recharge.
The controls for the product are very intuitive and easy to use. Rotating the steering wheel left or right makes the toy move in that direction. Pressing in the “gas” pedal makes the product accelerate, similarly to a real vehicle. The buttons on the dashboard are clearly identifiable, making it easy and intuitive for the user to activate the item they wish. Shifting from forward to reverse and vice versa is very easy; the user simply needs to move the gear stick in the direction they want to go.
Little maintenance is necessary for the product to operate. The battery needs to be recharged or replaced for the product to be used. The battery lasts for about one to three hours, depending on the user’s weight and the terrain being rode on. Charging the battery takes approximately fourteen hours, which is most conveniently done at night. The product comes with a recharging kit, and is very easy to set up and use. The pretend radio also requires its own 3 AA batteries, which need to be replaced depending on the radio’s usage. The product is also very easy to assemble, but rather heavy once put together. Carrying or moving the toy around by lifting it up can be troublesome, particularly up stairs or steep inclines. This product can be used on pavement or grass, but operates the best on prepared surfaces. The back tires have a tendency to lose traction and spin on uneven or unprepared surfaces. The speed at which the product operates is 2.5 to 5 mph which is great for the target audience of the toy. These speeds allow the user to find enjoyment in the toy, but are slow enough to keep the passengers safe in case of a collision.
Overall, this is a very intuitive and easy to use product. The controls are very intuitive, since they are modeled after the interface of an actual vehicle. The only real maintenance involved with the product is regular battery recharging, which can be done at night. It runs very well on pavement or prepared surfaces, and is safe while giving the user the thrill of driving a vehicle.
Product Alternative Profile
The battery powered ride on industry is a very diverse one. Companies strive to appeal to many different age ranges and budget. The diversity of cars sold by Fisher-Price can essentially be broken down in to 3 groups. The description of each group can be found in Table 3.
|Type||Ages||Max Weight||Max Speed||Surfaces||Power System|
|Beginner||1-2 Years||40 lbs||2 mph||• Hard surfaces
|6 Volt Battery|
|Advanced||2-6 Years||130 lbs||5 mph||• Hard surfaces
|6 and 12 Volt Batteries|
|Monster Traction||3+ Years||130 lbs||5 mph||• Rough Terrain
• Hard surfaces
• Soft Surfaces
|12 Volt Battery|
Comparison Between Fisher Price Cars
- Low chance of injury due to low speed
- Significantly cheaper than advanced models
- Cheaper replacement batteries
- Smaller and easier to store
- Not as fast as advanced models
- Can only be ridden for about 2 years before the child grows out of it
- Only supports 40 lbs
- Faster than beginner models
- Often model real cars
- Can support more weight than beginner models
- Large cost ( typically $200-$400)
- Larger battery replacement cost
- Takes up a large area to store in the winter
- Faster speeds leads to more chance of injury
- Faster than beginner models
- Can traverse a wide range of terrain
- Can support more weight than beginner models
- Large cost ( typically $200-$400)
- Larger battery replacement cost
- Takes up a large area to store in the winter
- Faster speeds and dangerous terrain leads to more chance of injury
- Needs to be cleaned often if it traverses dirty terrain
Although Fisher-Price does account for a large percentage of the battery powered ride on market, a discussion of the product alternatives to the Ford Mustang Power Wheels must take in to account other companies.(See Table 4)
|Model||Manufacturer||Cost||Max Speed||Max Weight||Image|
|Ford Mustang||Fisher-Price||$300||5 mph||130 lb|
|H2 Hummer 6V ||National Products||$199.99||2.5 mph||66 lb|
|4 Wheel Vehicle ||EZ Riders||$96.82||1.75 mph||66lb|
|Feber TT Adventure Truck ||Feber Ride On Toys||$699||4-5 mph||95 lb|
As shown in Table 4, the price that you pay for the car is directly correlated with the the speed if the car. This allows the consumer to pick which car to purchase based on what needs they have for the product and the price they are willing to pay. In the Fisher-Price comparison, it is shown that the biggest factor in deciding which car to buy is essentially age. Parents need to buy an age appropriate vehicle for their children, thus the vast variety in the market.
 Johnsonmotor.com . Main Components of a PMDC Motor, Retrieved November 15 , 2010, http://www.johnsonmotor.com/Main-Components.267.0.html
 Goodmans.net. H Connector, Retrieved September 28 , 2010, http://www.goodmans.net/item_images/pw-b6h_FULL.jpg
 Hobbymasters.com. Old and New Connectors, Retrieved September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/powerwheelsrepairsrecallsandwarrantywork.aspx
 Hobbymasters.com. Ford Mustang Decals, Retrieved September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/images/view.aspx?productId=22509
 Toysrus.com. Car Radio, Retrieved September 27 , 2010, http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3909348
 Squidoo.com. Kids Riding Car, September 27 , 2010, http://www.squidoo.com/fisher-price-power-wheels-mustang
 Hobbymasters.com. Map Holder, September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/images/view.aspx?productId=11148
 Hobbymasters.com. Car Cover, September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/images/view.aspx?productId=16292
 Hobbymasters.com. Stylish Decals, September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/images/view.aspx?productId=21468
 Hobbymasters.com. Extended Runtime Motor, September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/images/view.aspx?productId=24356
 Hobbymasters.com. Advance Motor, September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/775motor10-turn168volts.aspx
 Hobbymasters.com. Upgraded Tires, September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/images/view.aspx?productId=14916
 Fisher-price.com. Ford Mustang Power Wheels, September 27 , 2010, http://www.fisher-price.com/us/powerwheels/product.aspx?pid=49470
 Cpsc.gov. Battery Recall, September 27 , 2010, http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml99/99012.html
 Batterypoweredrideontoys.com. Battery Info, September 27 , 2010, http://batterypoweredrideontoys.com/power-wheels/
 Fisher-price.com. Fisher-Price Store, September 27 , 2010, http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=900002&e=storeproduct&pid=49470§ion=pop_pw
 Fisher-price.com. Genuine power Wheels, September 27 , 2010, http://www.fisher-price.com/us/powerwheels/whyChoose.aspx
 Mattel.com. Product Manual, September 27 , 2010, http://service.mattel.com/instruction_sheets/P5920pr-0920.pdf
 Toysrus.com. Buy Power Wheels, September 27 , 2010, http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3909348
 Hobbymasters.com. Spare Parts September 27 , 2010, http://www.hobbymasters.com/powerwheelsparts.aspx
 Fisher-price.com. Types of Power Wheels, September 27 , 2010, http://www.fisher-price.com/us/powerwheels/whyChoose.aspx
 Fisher-price.com. Ford Mustang Power Wheels, September 27 , 2010, http://www.fisher-price.com/us/powerwheels/product.aspx?pid=49470
 Amazon.com. H2 Hummer 6V, September 27 , 2010, http://www.amazon.com/National-Products-Hummer-Battery-Operated/dp/B002CVTHOU
 Amazon.com. 4 Wheel Vehicle, September 27 , 2010, http://www.amazon.com/EZ-Riders-HL819-6-Battery-Operated/dp/B003JAXNG6/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1285910479&sr=1-1
 Wagondepot.com. Feber TT Adventure Truck, September 27 , 2010, http://www.wagondepot.com/Feber_TT_Adventure_Truck_p/feb-800003904.htm
 Pietrobono, Amber. Phone interview. 30 Sept. 2010.