By on October 13, 2017

Ford storage bin patent, Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Cargo covers only hide so much. And at the end of the day, your SUV’s cargo area is merely a receptacle for refuse — you can’t tote the contents around outside the vehicle without a stolen shopping cart.

If a patent application filed by Ford Motor Company bears fruit, your cargo hold will have everything you need for tailgate parties, camping trips, and, just maybe, a long wait at the border. (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2017

E-Class, 5 Series, A6, Panamera - Images: BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche“I think the British do a pretty good job — they seem to produce cars that look British,” Ford Motor Company’s retired design chief J Mays says.

Given that Minis essentially look the same as they’ve always looked, Mays makes a good case.

But Mays tells Automotive News he’s “a big stickler for cultural relevance.” And while the man whose influence can still be seen across much of the Ford lineup — he retired three years ago — credits the Brits for bringing culture to car design, he gives no such credit to the Germans. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2017

bullitt mustang

For the 2017 model year, Ford decided to discontinue the color green in the Mustang’s paint palette. Called “Guard,” the tone was a faintly metallic deep green and it was as savory to the eyes as it was rare to see on the street. Fortunately, the automaker is returning the hue to its pony car for 2018. However, it looks like it will only be available on a special edition model known as the “Bullitt” — meaning Steve McQueen’s green machine is also making a return to the lineup.

While not the same 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT fastback from the titular film, Ford has twice offered homage editions of contemporary models. The first movie-inspired Mustang arrived in 2001, with a second launching in 2008.

Earlier this year, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted a video highlighting his role as Ford’s new brand ambassador, with sketches of the current-generation green Mustang adorned with Bullitt-like trappings seen in the background. It was a clever publicity stunt and we figured it was just a matter of time before the automaker made an announcement.  (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2017

2017 Ford Focus S sedan - Image: FordRarely does one hear an automaker point out that the next generation of a popular product is headed downmarket.

Even when a vehicle is repositioned in a lower end of the market, “downmarket” is the last word you’re going to hear out of an auto executive’s mouth. Instead, automakers up the value quotient, cater to the demands of discerning buyers, or find new production efficiencies we can pass on to the customer.

More often, automakers tout their new product as a move upmarket. So it is with Ford Motor Company’s fourth-generation Focus, according to Jim Farley, formerly of Ford of Europe and current head of Ford global markets. “It goes upmarket in exactly the same way as the new Fiesta,” Farley says.

Also like the new Fiesta, the 2019 Ford Focus will spawn an Active variant. Subaru Crosstrek here we come? (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

Ford Escape Titanium badge logo, Image: Ford Motor Company

After much speculation, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has finally outlined where his company’s dollars will be spent in the foreseeable future. Hackett spent his summer performing what Ford called a “four-month deep dive” into the company’s strategy and business operations to see what changes needed to be made. His conclusions? This may surprise a few readers, but Ford will continue building and selling automobiles.

Alright, that isn’t a bombshell, but the brand is trying to frame itself as the Ford you’ve always trusted while also letting everyone know it’s still a “mobility company” with its eyes fixed on tomorrow. Without the public relations veneer, that plan translates into a reduced number of production models and trims, more money for electrification R&D, less for internal combustion engines, and a significant reduction in material costs.

Hackett’s address also served to reassure the nervous shareholders who ousted his predecessor, Mark Fields. Ford’s stock declined more than 30 percent during Fields’ tenure and many complained that his vision of transitioning from a traditional automaker to a Silicon Valley look-alike was partly to blame. Hackett did everything in his power to ease those fears.

“We’re going to be in the vehicle business moving both people and goods. Some myth about not being in the car business is gone,” Hackett told Wall Street. (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta sedan and hatch - Image: FordAt TTAC, we’re big fans of Ford’s 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. In the right application — the sixth-generation Ford Fiesta — the EcoBoost triple is a happy revver, a fuel miser, a torque manufacturer, a smooth operator.

In fact, we’re such big fans of the EcoBoost three-cylinder that our editor-at-large bought and paid for a Fiesta 1.0 EB long-termer with his own money. That’s a strong recommendation. Recommendations don’t come any stronger than that.

With the existing, aged, increasingly antiquated Mexico-built Ford Fiesta continuing as a 2018 model year subcompact whilst much of the world benefits from the launch of a new generation of Fiestas, Ford is trimming the Fiesta lineup. The standard 1.6-liter four-cylinder persists; the Fiesta ST forges on.

But the Ford Fiesta’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder is signing off. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta ST three-door - Image: FordOver the last seven years, America, you didn’t buy many Ford Fiestas. Fewer than 430,000, in fact. For perspective, in the much smaller United Kingdom market, Ford sold over 500,000 Fiestas in just the last four years.

But the Fiesta’s lack of popularity — and its dramatic loss of popularity in America — is not a unique-to-Ford situation. U.S. sales of subcompact cars plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year, during the first eight months of 2017. That tumble comes after U.S. sales of subcompact cars declined in 2015 and 2016, as well.

Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise that Ford, after exploring America’s affordable avenues for one generation of Fiesta, isn’t bringing the seventh-generation version to America. And now we have confirmation that there is absolutely no hope the next-gen Ford Fiesta ST will come stateside, either. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2017

2018 Ford Escape Titanium aWD - Image: FordFor the 2018 model year, your local Blue Oval dealer will sell you an India-built Ford EcoSport Titanium AWD, with a handful of options, for $29,960.

Yes, that’s an uncomfortable MSRP for the funny-looking, tippy-toe-styled EcoSport, which Ford likes to pronounce echo-sport as if it’s a particularly athletic Toyota subcompact sedan circa 2003. But the entry point for Ford’s new entry-level crossover is much, much lower. At $20,990 including delivery — a 16-percent discount compared with the Ford Escape S — a 2018 Ford EcoSport sends power from its 1.0-liter turbo triple to the front wheels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission.  (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2017

ford vtti autonomous research

Ford Motor Company has been funding research at Virginia Tech that takes an interesting approach to autonomous vehicle development. In early August, a reporter for an NBC affiliate in Washington D.C. filmed a video of a Ford Transit being driven by a man dressed up as the front seat of a car. Initially, it seemed like a strange campus prank. But it was later discovered that Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute was doing research on how people would respond to a self-driving vehicle.

Apparently, they’ll approach it with a camera — even if it’s in the middle of the street or flying down the highway.

Ford later released a series of hysterical images featuring the man climbing into the false seat costume, announcing that it was researching reactions to the light bar stretched across van’s windshield. The lights are intended to replace cues like hand waves or head nods between drivers and pedestrians.

Presently, drivers have the ability to motion their hand at pedestrians, indication that it’s safe for them to walk. This author takes things a step further by mouthing easy to understand phrases like, “Fear not, I have decided to spare your life and will not crush you beneath my mighty wheels if you pass” as I ambulate my fingers in a walking motion and nod my head in a slow, deliberate fashion. It usually gets the point across, but it’s nice to know Ford can save me the trouble with a bunch of blinking lights.  (Read More…)

By on September 2, 2017

Ford Chariot Shuttle

Earlier this week, we griped about Ford Motor Company’s market research into the validity of self-driving pizza delivery vehicles. Thankfully, that’s not the sole avenue the automaker is exploring. Since abandoning Uber Technologies’ self-driving program in April, Ford’s new vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, Sherif Marakby, has spent the summer seeking partners that might want to put autonomous vehicles on the road in the near future.

Meanwhile, Ford chief executive Jim Hackett, who took over in May, is conducting a review of the automaker’s overall strategy, including the heavy investments made into electric and self-driving vehicles that took place under former CEO Mark Fields. While it’s unknown how viable he’ll deem every aspect of company’s Fieldsian mobility plan, early assessments hint he’ll leave Marakby plenty to work with.  (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale - Image: FordRemember Antonella?

Antonella was a 28-year-old Italian, living in the heart of Rome in the latter part of the last decade, who needed a nimble and stylish Ford.

Antonella has changed. Antonella has more money. She no longer lives with her parents. She has, say it politely, aged, though she’s “still very expressive,” Ford of Europe’s design boss George Saridakis tells Automotive News Europe. Since Antonella changed, the Ford Fiesta for which she was created (or vice versa) has also changed. Ford of Europe now hopes 10 percent of Europe’s Antonellas will choose the upmarket Fiesta Vignale.

What about Antonella’s cousin, Amy in Cleveland? Ford probably hopes she’ll buy a 2018 EcoSport. But if we’re going to be honest about Amy (a TTAC creation), we all know Ford’s inadvertently pulling her into the leftover 2017 Escape she’s been eyeing, the one with a $2,500 discount and interest-free financing over 84 months. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2017

ford_dominos_avresearch_06

Ford and Domino’s Pizza are joining forces to test self-driving pizza delivery vehicles in Michigan. The venture is an attempt to better understand how customers respond to and interact with autonomous vehicles and assess the future relevancy of the technology. But the cars in question aren’t actually self-driving, they’re simulated autonomous vehicles doing market research.

Essentially, Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan will have the option to accept pizza deliveries from a standard Ford Fusion Hybrid with loads of visual accoutrements to denote a cutting-edge test vehicle and a human operator obscured by a partition and some tinted glass. The customer is the test platform, not the car.

While it’s understandable that removing the driver from the equation might someday save pizza chains tons of dough, there are a few things neither Ford, nor Domino’s, seem to have considered. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2018 Ford F150 - Image: FordAs Ford prepares to launch the refreshed 2018 F-150 with a thoroughly updated engine lineup, Blue Oval product planners expect 2017’s engine selection to continue. That means the 5.0-liter V8, while mildly upgraded for 2018, will be found under the hood of only one in four 2018 F-150s.

The transition has been a rapid one. Twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6s were surprisingly effective when, in early 2011, 35 percent of F-150 buyers made the leap from conventional naturally aspirated powerplants. Three years later, when Ford was planning to expand the F-150’s EcoBoost lineup with a less costly 2.7-liter variant, Ford expected 56 percent of F-150 buyers to choose one of the turbocharged units.

Heading into 2018, Ford’s truck marketing manager Todd Eckert tells Automotive News that the 2.7-liter EcoBoost will be the most popular F-150 engine followed by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost. Together, they’ll claim 65 percent of all F-150 sales, leaving 10 percent for the new entry-level 3.3-liter, and roughly 25 percent for the five-point-oh.

So how many V8 engines is that? (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

Ford F-150

As promised, Ford is updating the engine lineup in the company’s best-selling F-150 for the 2018 model year, providing improved fuel economy and maximum towing capacity across the board.

While it’s always a good idea to hold out a bit of skepticism until review time, Ford previously low-balled its economy estimates for the F-Series — as such, we’re working with some previously existing good faith.

News has been trickling out regarding Ford’s upcoming styling tweaks, advanced safety tech, and a powerful new diesel engine for the 2018 model. We also knew the F-150’s gas engines would be getting upgraded specs and, while some alterations are minor, there are a few big numbers worth disclosing.

And they have little to do with the 5.0-liter V8.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Impala LTZ Detroit - Image: GMAs U.S. auto sales are forecasted to fall between 5 and 6 percent in July 2017, the reports released this morning by the traditional Detroit Three — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — appear to be worse than average.

Due to decreased year-over-year volume at each of its four brands, including a harsh 30-percent decrease at Buick, General Motors plunged 15 percent to 226,107 sales. That loss equalled 41,151 fewer sales for America’s largest automobile seller. At Ford Motor Company, total sales fell 7 percent despite rising F-Series sales. Car volume tumbled 19 percent at Ford and Lincoln, and SUV/crossover sales were up only slightly. At FCA, meanwhile, a 10-percent overall decline was caused by decreased volume at Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat.

Fortunately, there remain reasons for optimism. (Read More…)

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