By on October 19, 2017

Ford Police Interceptor Utility

Two Austin-based police officers have filed lawsuits against Ford Motor Company after being incapacitated by carbon monoxide that leaked into the cabin of their Interceptor Utilities. Ford finds itself flooded with hundreds of complaints over unacceptable carbon monoxide levels in 2011-2017 Ford Explorers, receiving the most flack from police departments with problematic SUVs. Officers across America have complained of dizziness while driving, with some requiring hospitalization.

The issue had become so bad that Austin’s police department actually pulled about 400 Explorer-based squad cars from its motor pool. Scrambling for a solution, Ford has implemented a special task force to investigate the problem and develop a solution. The automaker also offered to fix 1.33 million Explorers to ensure there is no exhaust leak, but was quick to remind everyone this wasn’t a recall, as no U.S. government standard for in-vehicle carbon monoxide levels exists.  (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2017

2017 Ford Taurus

Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, has been milling around the company trying to get a sense of what the automaker needs to thrive in today’s car market. Conducting a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points, Hackett is setting himself up with a greater understanding of where Ford stands in order to share his vision of the automaker’s future with investors in early October.

However, we already have some sense of what that future entails. Hackett has already spoken with leadership from the United Auto Workers, easing union fears that he might try to clean house and cut jobs. But his reassurance that there probably won’t be massive layoffs under his leadership doesn’t guarantee low-margin automobiles won’t be at risk.

This isn’t entirely down to Hackett’s management style, either. Investors were becoming annoyed with former CEO Mark Fields’ lofty long-term strategy, which featured fewer near-term goals aimed at bolstering profitability. Some analysts expect Hackett to end production of models that aren’t big earners — which includes just about everything that isn’t an SUV, crossover, or pickup truck. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

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Prior to outlining Ford Motor Company’s new strategy to financial analysts and corporate investors, CEO Jim Hackett wants to check-in with leadership from the United Automobile Workers. Hackett has been undertaking a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points — established during Mark Fields’ executive tenure — with a mind to reevaluate the status quo.

However, before he announces his new vision for the company to Wall Street, Hackett is giving the UAW a peek. Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot.  (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Ford has assembled five squads of investigators to help police departments cope with the growing number of reports of exhaust fumes incapacitating on-duty officers in Explorer-based Interceptor Utility vehicles. While the problem appears to exist in civilian spec SUVs as well, police vehicles are getting the most attention from Ford and the press, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited three wrecked patrol vehicles and numerous drivers looking green in the gills.

The NHTSA ramped up its engineering analysis since then, which could lead to a recall on all Explorer-based models from 2011 to 2017. But Ford hopes to get out ahead of the issue by making good on an earlier promise, dispatching its own investigative teams to ensure police departments don’t look to other automakers the next time they need to replenish their fleets.

According to Ford, it’s already making headway in solving the problem.  (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

lynk-and-co-01-sedan

Ford Motor Company is finally challenging Geely Holding Group’s trademark application for the Lynk & Co automotive moniker. We’ve been waiting on this one for a while and are a little curious as to why it took Ford so long to realize the Geely-backed brand sounded so similar to Lincoln Motor Company.

While Chinese manufacturers enjoy a rich history of borrowing designs and names from competing automakers, the brunt of their more brazen attempts at thievery exist in the past — probably because they traditionally end up in court. Geely also has the benefit of plausible deniability since the Lynk name is supposed to hint at the vehicle’s unparalleled level of connectivity. It would be reasonable to assume this was a big coincidence.

Still, even if that is the case, nothing is going to halt the corporate litigation train now that it has left Ford Station. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2017

air fresheners, Tony Alter/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

China doesn’t possess the same affinity for the iconic “new car smell” that remains popular in North America. The scent itself, a conglomeration of industrial adhesive fumes and the off-gassing of various plastics, is technically toxic air pollution trapped inside the vehicle’s cabin. However, Western drivers have made it synonymous with the pleasantries of owning a new vehicle, while Chinese motorists have not.

This brings up a very important question. Are they bad people?

While it would be very easy to use this single example to conclude that China is a perverse and disturbed nation, Westerners subjected to the volatile compounds of a new car’s interior on a particularly hot day might agree that the smell, in heavy doses, occasionally leaves something to be desired. Ideally, the odor should bring a tear to the eye due to nostalgia or pride, not because it’s trying to flush out the hazardous vapors emitted by baked vinyl.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, which has been researching the the smell since 2006. “Since [most of] these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Automakers have been. As a result, the intensity of new car smell has diminished quite a bit since the early 2000s. In North America, it’s largely the result of trying to exclude carcinogenic fumes from substances like polyvinyl chloride. But in China, the practice extends out to nullifying any negative associations shoppers might have with the scent by trying to eliminate it entirely. It’s the number one concern for new car buyers, and automakers and customers go to great lengths to avoid even the slightest whiff.

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

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The Ford Motor Company is allegedly preparing for a sweeping reduction of its global workforce. Harder days for the auto industry have been a long time coming, but reports claim the impending layoffs are specifically related to shoring up finances and turning around the company’s lagging stock valuation — meaning Ford could be the canary in the coal mine or a lone company desperate to bolster its own profitability and get angry shareholders off its back.

While the automaker has not yet confirmed the cuts, there is every indication an announcement will be made soon. When confronted with the matter, representatives have been careful to make noncommittal statements and doubly cautious not to deny anything.

“We remain focused on the three strategic priorities that will create value and drive profitable growth, which include fortifying the profit pillars in our core business, transforming traditionally underperforming areas of our core business and investing aggressively, but prudently, in emerging opportunities,” Ford said in an official statement. “Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work. We have not announced any new people efficiency actions, nor do we comment on speculation.”  (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

ford logo

As anticipated, Ford CEO Mark Fields was grilled today over his plans to improve the company’s waning fortunes by board members who had scheduled extra time to question him.

Hot topics at the annual meeting centered on why profits are falling, what is Ford doing about the market shift toward SUVs, and how the company’s colossal investments into technology are affecting its present-day financial situation. Ford has poured billions into self-driving vehicles and ride-sharing platforms as its traditional car business loses some ground to General Motors in a slowing U.S. market. Fields spearheaded Ford’s rebranding as a mobility company, but many have suggested this future-focus isn’t healthy for the brand.

Fields stuck to his guns, emphasizing that Ford was heading “aggressively but also prudently” into “the biggest strategic shift in the history of our company.”  (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2017

General Motors HQ

Automakers are seeing diminished interest in product as market demand levels off after years of post-recession growth. While some analysts are heralding an industry-wide doomsday, others have cited this as an inevitable market ebb with no cause for alarm. Either way, domestic and foreign automakers have begun scaling back production efforts.

In the United States, Ford recently announced layoffs at its Ohio truck plant and General Motors may be following suit by eliminating 1,100 employees at the Delta Township Assembly Plant near Lansing, Michigan.

GM’s newest U.S. factory was already scheduled undergo retooling for the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave crossovers. However, when the plant reopens this June, there’s a good chance that third-shift employees won’t be returning. (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

Ford Fairlane Mall

The majority of today’s youth culture develops online but, for a number of years, it shared that space with the former cornerstone of American society — the mall. However, the once-great shopping center has fallen out of fashion along with wide-leg jeans and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Since the late 1990s, most malls have gradually morphed into half-empty shanty towns or been abandoned entirely.

As part of Ford’s reoccurring requirement to appear forward thinking and socially conscious — as well as an immediate need for a location to house gobs of employees while it continues work on its Dearborn headquarters — the automaker had decided to make use of the partially abandoned Fairlane Mall. It may be the best implementation of its current focus on corporate citizenship and sustainability to date.   (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2017

18-ford-explorer-sport_hr_01

When Ford updated the Explorer for 2016, many wondered if the mid-cycle refresh was extensive enough. If those voices were on the fence two years ago, then the 2018 update must have them fuming. Where the 2016 model year saw observable styling changes, an improved digital interface, and a brand new engine option, the 2018 model year will receive next to nothing.

While Ford did upgrade the visuals, distinguishing it from the 2017 MY is exceptionally difficult. Ford altered the Explorer’s front clip and grille slightly to make it look 2 percent more like something built by Land Rover, and changes to the rest of the bodywork are far too subtle to notice.

Unless you have a strong affinity toward quad exhaust ports or wifi access, there really isn’t any reason to rush out and buy one.  (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2017

Ford F-250 Lariat

Ford Motor Company is recalling F-250 pickup trucks sold in North America due to the potential for roll-aways after the vehicle’s automatic transmission is placed in park. This is the third major recall announced by Ford in the last few days. The other two were due to engine fires in 1.6-liter Ecoboost models and faulty door latches on Fiestas, Fusions, and Lincoln MKZs.

The at-risk trucks include 52,600 2017 model year F-250 trucks equipped with 6.2-liter gasoline engines produced at its Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant. So far, Ford has said it is unaware of any injuries or accidents caused by the roll-away issue, though it urges owners to visit their dealer at the earliest opportunity.  (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2017

ford Argo AI

Ford Motor Company intends to invest $1 billion into tech startup Argo AI over the next five years, giving the Blue Oval a majority stake in the company as it continues to reach for the goal of producing a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.

The Pittsburgh-based Argo will help the Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver system” for its proposed commercial ride-sharing fleets before moving on to retail vehicles. Ford even went so far as to suggest that the software it develops with Argo could be licensed to other companies.

While still officially an automaker, the Blue Oval really is going all in on its new identity as a mobility company and it isn’t afraid to remind everyone of all of the important work it feels that it is doing. (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2017

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Ford Motor Co. has hired former Apple marketing guru Musa Tariq as part of its expanding need to make the case that it is a mobility company not simply an automaker. Taking the newly created position of vice president and chief brand officer, Tariq will help construct and differentiate the brand identify Ford is hoping to carefully curate for itself.

Cars were for your grandfather’s generation. We now have mobility solutions(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2013

File picture of Ford Australia's head office in Melbourne

Ford has long been at the forefront of the currency debate, claiming currency manipulation when the yen went to levels that nearly killed the Japanese auto industry, and shouting “currency manipulation” now that the yen is back to normal levels. Now, Ford itself experiences the devastating effects of changing exchange rates:  Ford is shutting down all its manufacturing operations in Australia. The reason: A strong Australian dollar.  Says Reuters: (Read More…)

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