By on June 28, 2017

Ford GoBike, Image: Ford

Let’s say it altogether: Mobility! That’s what Ford Motor Company is up to in the tech-obsessed Millennial enclave of San Francisco. No longer will you have to turn to a truck, SUV or Mustang for rear-wheel Blue Oval motivation, and emission levels from the automaker’s latest vehicle depend solely on where the rider ate.

Yes, Ford has diversified itself right into the realm of bicycles, but don’t think for a second you’ll be able to take one home for a quick custom job. These rides must remain factory stock. While the automaker’s plan to blanket the Bay Area in bicycles might seem like a quick way to score green points for the Super Duty maker, there’s actually a team devoted to creating more of these ventures.

Still, Ford’s new GoBike network isn’t immune from the same challenges faced by its automobile division. You see, competition looms on the horizon. Competition with more power. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

ford focus st, Image: Ford Motor Co.

There’s a good chance the next Ford Focus you purchase will have arrived via a slow boat from China. Despite abandoning assembly plans in Mexico earlier this year, Ford Motor Company has decided the next-generation model will remain an import, now by way of Asia.

Current Focus production in Wayne, Michigan will be eliminated in the middle of next year to make way for Ford’s upcoming Ranger pickup (in late 2018) and Bronco (in 2020). The automaker assures hourly workers they won’t suffer from layoffs resulting from the changeover, but admits to prioritizing its U.S. assembly plants for trucks and SUVs — vehicles Americans will actually buy. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

2018 ford expedition fx4, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has announced a series of engine and transmission upgrades for the facelifted 2018 F-150 and redesigned 2018 Expedition, all designed to provide a boost in both power and fuel economy. For the Expedition, the upgrades also include an off-road package available as soon as 2018 models begin rolling off assembly lines this fall.

Starting with America’s perpetual best-seller, the F-150, Ford’s powertrain improvements include the addition of dual injection to several engines, expanded implementation of the 10-speed automatic, and a new motor for base trim trucks. While Ford hasn’t released fuel economy estimates, it promises there will be improvements across the range. It was, however, willing to divulge enhanced horsepower and torque specs for all light truck engines, minus the Raptor’s. (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

2004 Ford GT trio - Image: Ford13 years ago, Ford introduced a stunning V8-powered supercar. It was not affordable.

At roughly $150,000 — or $188,000 in 2017 dollars — the 2005 Ford GT was out of my reach. More than likely, the 2005 Ford GT wasn’t on your shopping list, either.

But because its price placed the reborn Ford GT in the realm of attainability, nearly 3,600 GTs found homes between the end of 2004 and early 2007. Sure, a lot of them spend much of their time parked in garages. Many scarcely move. And it’s not as though a Ford GT is daily commuter in mid-winter Des Moines.

But because of that Blue Oval badge and value-oriented pricing — hey, the GT cost a lot less than a Ferrari F430 — the Ford GT was common enough and American enough and crazy enough to be The People’s Supercar.

The new Ford GT, on the other hand, is a $450,000 beast with a pair of missing cylinders, disappointing noises, and such exclusivity that spotting one in the wild will be virtually impossible outside supercar havens in SoCal and South Beach.

Forgive me, but I prefer the old Ford GT. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

Ford Service Center, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company may soon press dealership service centers to prioritize maintenance and repairs for ride-sharing fleets and their employees. This comes after the company’s decision to expand its in-house shuttling firm, known as Chariot, and as its long-term plan to bring an autonomous ride-sharing solution to market by 2021 takes shape. But Ford also knows rival companies can be a strong source of revenue. Omnicraft, anyone?

Even moderately sized cities have several thousand Uber and Lyft drivers, and Ford’s CEO of Smart Mobility Raj Rao thinks they represent an untapped resource. He believes service centers should go the extra mile for them, even if it means some dealerships have to stay open 24 hours to provide swift turnarounds.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

2017 Ford Escape Assembly Factory Production, Image: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is reducing the length of its usual summer suspensions by a full seven days in Kentucky. According to the automaker, production at the Louisville Assembly Plant will resume only “one week” after the normal July 4th shutdown. Like the horrendous Barenaked Ladies song of the same name, the news should prove very popular among a highly specific subset of America — assuming they get paid hourly and weren’t planning an extended vacation.

Normally, Ford takes around 14 days to overhaul factories for the following year’s production, but demand for the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC has just been too high.  (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

2017 Ford F150 XLT SuperCrew Towing, Image: FordWith its Ford and Lincoln brands, the Ford Motor Company reported 240,250 U.S. sales in May 2017, a 2-percent year-over-year improvement.

General Motors, which has outsold Ford Motor Company in 14 consecutive months, sold 237,364 new vehicles in May 2017, a 1-percent year-over-year drop.

In May 2017, for the first time since March of last year, the Ford Motor Company outsold General Motors.

The Mark Fields era at Ford, a period in which the company’s value crumbled, is over. But if Fields took the blame for what ailed Ford, doesn’t he get the credit for what went right? Besides a handsome severance package, the Mark Fields era ended with Ford Motor Company out in front of General Motors.

But how did Ford make it happen? With pickups and fleets.

(Read More…)

By on May 28, 2017

bill-ford

Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, will be able to avoid some of the shareholder wrath his predecessor assumed. With Mark Fields gone, Bill Ford has taken it upon himself to keep the dream alive and promote the company’s vision of the future while its share price continues to dwindle. The executive chairman and great-grandson of the business’ founder has expanded his duties to include managing corporate communications and interacting with the government — two tasks few would envy.

Bill Ford claims that assuming the responsibilities would allow Hackett to focus on the daily operations and better familiarize himself with the automotive world, of which he has little direct experience with. That isn’t to suggest he’s not the man for the job, but Ford sees no reason to burden him with external communication duties — which we know can get ugly — as he’s settling into the new position.  (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

Bill Ford and Mark Fields 2018 Ford F150 - Image: FordPrior to this morning’s announcement that outgoing Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields is “retiring,” Fields was in charge at the Blue Oval for nearly three years. Just a little more than ten quarters, to be more precise.

In eight of those quarters, Ford Motor Company U.S. market share declined, year-over-year.

Ford was not without excuse, of course. There was always market share to be taken if Ford wanted it. But an attempt to limit reliance on daily rental fleet sales, particularly with Ford’s passenger car division, did the automaker’s market share no favors. Ford’s transition from old F-150 to the new aluminum-bodied model was a major switch, too, and sales growth during the transition phase wasn’t easy to come by.

Nevertheless, Ford’s U.S. market share didn’t nosedive during the Mark Fields era. The burden on incoming CEO Jim Hackett’s shoulders won’t be the elevation of Ford Motor Company market share in the automaker’s home market.

No, it’s the price of a Ford share that matters right now. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

[Image: Ford]

Ahead of a news conference at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, the automaker has announced Jim Hackett as its new president and chief executive officer.

The news follows last night’s report of the ouster of former CEO Mark Fields by the company’s board of directors. In an official release, Ford refers to Hackett as a “transformational business leader” who will succeed the “retiring” Fields.

Before being named chairman of the newly created subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March of 2016, Hackett, 62, served on the company’s board for three years and was a member of its Sustainability and Innovation committee. Prior to joining Ford, the executive gained accolades for his turnaround of American office furniture company Steelcase, where he spent 30 years. As interim director of athletics at the University of Michigan, Hackett lured Jim Harbaugh away from the San Francisco 49ers to serve as head football coach.

Hackett’s job won’t be an easy one. Besides guiding the company through a disruptive era of new technologies, the new CEO must reverse Ford’s flagging fortunes. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2017

Mark Fields, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Mark Fields has reportedly been fired from his position as CEO of Ford Motor Company, to be replaced by a man he appointed as head of the automaker’s mobility subsidiary.

According to Forbes, the company will announce the appointment of Jim Hackett as CEO this morning, part of a broader shakeup of the company’s upper ranks. Hackett, former CEO of Steelcase, served on the automaker’s board for three years before being named head of Ford Smart Mobility LLC in March, 2016.

Fields, a 28-year Ford veteran who replaced Alan Mulally in mid-2014, was reportedly booted by the company’s board amid a continued decline in share values. Two weeks ago, the CEO was grilled by board members and shareholders alike over the direction he has taken the company. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2017

LIVONIA TRANSMISSION PLANT

Despite news that Ford Motor Company has started making plans to scale back its workforce in North America and Asia, there are 800 Michigan-based employees who needn’t fear for their jobs — all thanks to commitments made in the company’s 2015 deal with the United Auto Workers. Ford confirmed on Friday that it will be investing $350 million into its Livonia Transmission plant.

Keeping its end of the bargain means the site will be safe from layoffs and may even bring aboard new employees, although the number of new hires is unclear. It’s assumed the majority of the 800 hourly positions will be filled by Ford dipping into its own staffing pool.  (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2017

17FordEscape-Titanium_04_HR

Ford is admittedly behind its main rivals in terms of offering practical and purpose-built EVs but, when it finally comes to market in 2020, its first long-range electric should deliver what buyers want. When Ford announced its plans to launch an electrified crossover at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Chevrolet Bolt had already begun to lose its geek chic luster. However, we have to defer our judgement as Ford’s entry could eventually have an EV spec sheet that’ll make GM blush.

We’re beginning to get a better picture of the upcoming Ford — which I’m going to begin calling the E-CUV (electric crossover utility vehicle) since it doesn’t have an official name — now that the company’s chief technology officer Raj Nair has started loosening his lips. The upside is that it will be an affordable unit targeting everything the average consumer wants. The downside is that it’ll have competition early in its lifespan.  (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 3, 2017

Ford EcoSport guardians of the galaxy ad

Advertising isn’t designed to help you make an informed purchasing decision. While some auto ads occasionally cherry pick information to highlight a vehicle’s strengths, you see this tactic employed less and less lately. Pathos-driving advertising sometimes results in innocuous gems, like Subaru’s “Dog Approved” campaign. However, there has been an obnoxious trend where cars, which are presumably for adults, are being marketed as if they are children’s toys.

One of the worst offenders of this phenomenon was Nissan. It tied the Rogue to the Star Wars franchise as much as possible — issuing television spots set in a galaxy far, far away, a special movie edition variant of the vehicle, crossover swag, and even a car modeled to look like an X-wing to display at trade events. It potentially worked, too — Rogue sales skyrocketed.

Taking notice, Ford has similarly decided to link the upcoming EcoSport to the new Guardians of the Galaxy film. The Blue Oval is taking that concept a step further, however. Its downright egregious marketing campaign feels like it belongs in the ad space reserved for Saturday morning cartoons, circa 1992, right next to a sugary breakfast cereal with a cartoon mascot. Ford has sweepstakes, comic books and a film cameo planned. (Read More…)

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