The Truth About Cars » Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:28:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com New York 2014: 2015 Ford Focus Sedan Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-ford-focus-sedan-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-ford-focus-sedan-unveiled/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:34:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800058 2015-Ford-Focus-02

In Geneva, we saw the world debut of the 2015 Ford Focus hatchback. At the 2014 New York Auto Show, it’s the 2015 Focus Sedan’s turn to be unveiled.

Like the hatchback, the sedan now boasts the new nose found on the likes of the Fusion and Fiesta, while under the hood will include a 2-liter four-pot or — for the U.S. market — the 1-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, both of which will be mated to a new six-speed manual. An SE Sport Package will also be available, swaping the manual for an automatic with paddle shifters in addition to tuning upgrades for the suspension and 17-inch wheels.

Safety features on-board include a standard rearview camera paired with a choice of two monitors, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist.

Both the hatchback and sedan will enter U.S. showrooms early in 2015.

2015-Ford-Focus-02 2015-Ford-Focus-01 2015-Ford-Focus-03 2015-Ford-Focus-10 2015-Ford-Focus-04 2015-Ford-Focus-05 2015-Ford-Focus-07 2015-Ford-Focus-09 2015-Ford-Focus-13 2015-Ford-Focus-15 2015-Ford-Focus-16 2015-Ford-Focus-14 ]]>
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Wolff Out, Woodhouse In As Lincoln Design Director http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wolff-out-woodhouse-in-as-lincoln-design-director/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wolff-out-woodhouse-in-as-lincoln-design-director/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793642 Max Wolff, Lincoln Exterior Design Chief

The Lincoln division of Ford has replaced former design director Max Wolff with David Woodhouse, the former head of the Blue Oval’s Premier Automotive Group, as part of the premium division’s $1 billion makeover.

Bloomberg reports Wolff will remain with Lincoln as the brand’s exterior design boss, and that the change occurred in December with little fanfare, as Ford no longer issues press releases for promotions below the vice president level, according to spokesman Stephane Cesareo. Both design chiefs were brought over from General Motors to Ford, with Wolff arriving in 2010 from Cadillac, and Woodhouse from GM’s design studios in 1999.

Wolff’s biggest mark on Lincoln is the current MKZ, which he reworked immediately upon arrival in 2010. Though the premium sedan — based upon the Ford Fusion — faced production problems that saw the overall brand’s sales fall to a low not seen in over 30 years, the MKZ’s success boosted Q1 2014 sales to 36 percent.

Aside from his styling work with PAG, Woodhouse was in charge of Ford’s advanced design studio in California between 2004 and 2009, and guided Lincoln’s strategy between July through December of 2013 before becoming the brand’s new director of design.

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Future Ford Explorers, Expeditions Could Wear All-Aluminium Bodies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/future-ford-explorers-expeditions-could-wear-all-aluminium-bodies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/future-ford-explorers-expeditions-could-wear-all-aluminium-bodies/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:36:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793281 Explorer Sport rear quarter, picture courtesy Michael Karesh

As previously reported by TTAC earlier this year, future Ford Explorers and Expeditions could one day wear aluminium bodies.

Edmunds reports the SUVs could easily go aluminium should Ford decided to do so based on the higher base prices of both vehicles being able to sustain the higher cost of the metal. The Explorer and Expedition could see improved fuel economy from the several hundreds of pounds lost as a result.

Alongside aluminium, Ford also aims to improve the engines, transmissions and aerodynamics in their lineup as the automaker seeks to reduce CO2 emissions annually by 4 percent to meet ever-stringent global standards.

The earliest an all-aluminium Explorer or Expedition could come is 2018, as the U.S. metals industry is stepping up aluminium production in anticipation of more Ford products extensively using the lightweight metal.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-ford-thunderbird/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-ford-thunderbird/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791097 10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white two-tone paint job!
07 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI could look up the horsepower numbers on the ’79 Thunderbird‘s 351M engine, but the figures would just make us all depressed. Let’s just say that this car had enough torque to get moving fairly well for its era (i.e., it would get smoked by a 3-cylinder Mirage today).
16 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis can’t possibly be a factory paint job, can it?
13 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf course it has a landau vinyl roof!
04 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin85 MPH speedometer, according to 1979 regulations.
05 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe velour buckets are no longer as luxurious as they once were.


This ad for the similar ’77 Thunderbird shows the 85mph speedo in full effect, plus a very cocaineophile-looking driver. Radio comes as standard equipment!

01 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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Analysis: Australia’s Free Trade Deals Are The Final Nail In The Coffin Of Its Auto Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/analysis-australias-free-trade-deals-are-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-its-auto-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/analysis-australias-free-trade-deals-are-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-its-auto-industry/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:35:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=790321 holden-plant

In the span of 24 hours, Australia inked two free trade agreements with both Japan and South Korea. Even though Holden, Ford and Toyota had already committed to ending auto manufacturing in Australia, it’s hard not to see the agreements as the last nail in the coffin of Australia’s once strong auto industry.

Although North American perception of Australia’s car market is one composed of big, rear-drive V8 sedans and Utes, that image is largely a construct in the minds of enthusiasts. The real picture is a lot less sexy.

Australia’s market is both unique and remarkably mundane. At around 1 million units annually, Australia’s new car market is a mere fraction of the United States – but it’s also far more competitive, with roughly 60 brands competing for a very small pie.

In past decades, the local auto manufacturing industry was heavily protected by tariffs, which encouraged a thriving domestic auto manufacturing industry. Holden and Ford ruled the roost, while Chrysler enjoyed a brief run of localized cars. Later on, companies like Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota joined the fray, establishing themselves as the favored Japanese brands.

But in 1983, the Button Plan radically changed the automotive landscape in Australia. The chief goal of the Button Plan was to consolidate the domestic auto industry by halving the number of model produced, while also looking to reduce tariffs and import quotas. The overall goal was to foster a more competitive, export-focused Australian car industry through increased competition.

In the immediate term, a number of badge engineered domestic models appeared in the showrooms of Japanese brands, but none sold particularly well. For a long time, traditional Australia vehicles like large sedans and Utes reigned supreme. But the past decade has seen a major shift in the automotive market, with rapidly changing tastes.

Much like their cousins in the United States, Australia’s traditional vehicles – large sedans and Utes – are facing a two-fronted war, and the outcome has all but been decided.

A report by Ward’s Auto shows that in 2003, large sedans (which ostensibly includes not just the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, but also front-drive entrants from Toyota and Mitsubishi) were the most popular cars in Australia, with 26 percent market share. A decade later, that number has fallen to just 7.6 percent.

Small cars and SUVs have overtaken the large car as the most popular segments in Australia. Rising fuel prices, shifting market tastes and a greater selection of small cars have helped propel vehicles like the Holden Cruze, Mazda3, Hyundai i30 to the top of the sales charts – to say nothing of the Toyota Corolla, which was Australia’s best-selling car in 2013.

At the other end of the spectrum, SUVs, crossovers and mid-size pickup trucks have eroded the large sedan’s domain as the family car of choice, with Ward’s reporting that one fifth of buyers are opting for mid-size or large SUVs. The Toyota HiLux was Australia’s best-selling truck in 2013, as sales of mid-size trucks (including Holden’s popular Colorado) helped dampen enthusiasm for Utes.

Beyond the lack of enthusiasm for traditional vehicles, the importance of Australian pedigree is on the wave. As Ward’s reports, the preference for Australian-made vehicles has declined substantially from over a quarter of new buyers in 2003, to roughly one eighth in 2013. Last year marked the first time that the three most popular brands in monthly sales rankings (Toyota, Mazda, Nissan) were all imports.

With a changing climate regarding imported vehicles, the FTAs with both Japan and South Korea will only reduce the cost of vehicles that Australian consumers are already gravitating to. While the FTA with Thailand arguably served as the catalyst for Australia’s major market shift towards Thai-built trucks and certain passenger cars, other factors, like a strong Australian dollar, high manufacturing costs and limited export demand for Australian cars (despite the protestations of enthusiasts across the internet) did their part in bringing about the inevitable end to Australia’s auto industry. The Japanese and South Korean FTAs won’t do any more harm to an industry on death row. But it’s impossible to ignore their symbolism in the wake of the Australian car industry’s annus horribilis.

 

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Piston Slap: A Frozen Expedition South of the Yukon’s Tundra? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-a-frozen-expedition-south-of-the-yukons-tundra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-a-frozen-expedition-south-of-the-yukons-tundra/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:44:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788466

Frozen in KC writes:

Long-time reader, first-time questioner with a 2005 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer 4×4 question: My local Ford dealer says there is no block heater available to install on my Expedition. As you may know, it has been extremely cold in the midwest lately and my Ford is in the driveway. I have an outlet nearby and would love to be able to start up an already-warmed engine in these bitter cold mornings, not just for my comfort, but for the longevity of the engine. I’m pretty handy, but not an advanced mechanic.

Can the Best-And-Brightest possibly be of assistance? Thanks!

Sajeev answers:

Just because a dealership can’t install an OEM part doesn’t mean the aftermarket can’t hook you up. With something like this part.

So you can indeed install a universal engine block heater on a 4×4 Expedition, but is it worth the trouble? Maybe not. Run synthetic oil to ensure the best engine protection below freezing.  Maybe put a remote start for your convenience.  And since it’s an Eddie Bauer, heated seats might be in play too. Those three items are more than adequate for most KC winters.

I mean, this Expedition doesn’t Traverse the frozen Tundra of the Yukon Territory. (childish giggling) 

I can understand the luxury vs. necessity of having an engine block heater, so the question remains: it is worth it to you?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Ford Cuts 950 Jobs In Russia Due To Weakening Ruble, Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ford-cuts-950-jobs-in-russia-due-to-weakening-ruble-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ford-cuts-950-jobs-in-russia-due-to-weakening-ruble-demand/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:21:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786689 Ford-Sollers-Vsevolozhsk-plant

Two plants in Ford’s joint venture with Russian manufacturer OAO Sollers will experience job cuts as a result of a weakening ruble and decreasing demand by customers in the local market.

Bloomberg says 700 positions in St. Petersburg and 250 temporary positions in the Tartarstan region will be let go by June, while production in the former will lose one shift. The cuts were caused by “the rapid and significant depreciation of the ruble, falling industry sales and a consumer shift away” from small cars toward large SUVs according to Ford, who also reassured that the joint venture would continue to remain committed to the Russian market.

As for the current state of things, sales fell 4 percent in the first two months of 2014, following a 5.5 percent decline in 2013 to 2.78 million vehicles, while the ruble lost 13 percent of its value against the dollar within the last 12 months.

The St. Petersberg plant will also shut down for over four weeks before single-shift production and painting begin June 9. The plant currently builds the Mondeo and Focus.

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Mitsubishi Buys Laguna Ford Assembly Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-buys-laguna-ford-assembly-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-buys-laguna-ford-assembly-plant/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:06:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785649 Mitsubishi_L300_front_20081009

In a push to expand Southeast Asia sales, Mitsubishi has purchased a Ford assembly plant in Laguna, Philippines for an undisclosed amount.

Automotive News reports the plant, which last saw production in 2012, will start back up in 2015 with an initial capacity of 50,000 units per year, expanding to 100,000 annually. The plant will produce both the Adventure and L300 vans.

The second plant in the automaker’s Philippine portfolio, Laguna is key to underpinning Mitsubishi’s strength in the Southeast Asia market, especially in the emerging local auto market where the automaker is second to Toyota in annual sales.

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Piston Slap: You’ve Got to be All Mine…Foxy Lady! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-youve-got-to-be-all-mine-foxy-lady/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-youve-got-to-be-all-mine-foxy-lady/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:50:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=784545  

Mark VII

TTAC Commentator Thunderjet writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Last year I picked up a ’91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC for $800. It’s in decent shape for being a Chicago area car and having 153K on the clock. The body has no major rust issues except for the front fenders, which have rust holes due to the sunroof drains, so the car will eventually need new fenders. The under body and frame are rust free and very clean. The car sat for several years before I purchased it and over the last year I have put about $500 into the car replacing various wear/tune up items (water pump, hoses, belt, cap, rotor, plug wires, spark plugs, and the starter). The car runs well and I’ve always wanted one, being that I have been a Fox Body nut since I started driving.

I would like to keep the car as I enjoy driving it. My daily driver is a 2011 Ford Focus SE bought new. It currently has about 28K on it and I’m hoping to keep it another 10 years or more. The Mark VII needs several things to make it more presentable including a paint job and the replacement of some of the leather panels on the front seats. In addition I would like to replace some wear items on the car such as the air springs so I won’t have to worry about failure in the future. I can do the repairs as time/budget allow and probably get a pretty nice car in the end.

??????????

The issue I’m having a problem with is that I already have a fun car that I tinker with: a 1988 Ford Thunderbird LX. It’s a factory 5.0 car with Edelbrock aluminum heads, a GT40 intake, .533 lift Comp roller cam, AOD with 2800 stall converter, and a 3:73 Traction-Lok differential. It’s a fun car and it’s the first car I ever bought. It’s not going away as the improvements I’ve made to the Thunderbird in the last 12 years I’ve owned the car make it too fun to part with. Also being my first car the Thunderbird is special to me.

I’m wondering if it makes sense for me to have two project/fun cars or if it’s overkill? A little background on me: I’m in my late 20’s and I’ll be getting married later this year. My fiancé doesn’t mind cars and in fact likes them as her daily driver is a 2012 Mustang V6 in Grabber Blue. I own my own house outright and I only have two sources of debt: about $15K I’m paying off in student loans for my master’s degree and the other two years on the loan for my Focus. I bought a new car as a daily driver as the dealer offered me 0% for 60 months. Who am I to say no to free money from Ford Credit? I am saving for retirement and put 15% of my yearly salary towards that. I make in the mid to upper five figures so I’m not poor but I’m not rich. As of right now having the Mark VII is only costing me about $300 a year in insurance. Does it make sense for a late 20 something to have two fun cars or should I ditch the Mark VII and just keep the Thunderbird?

Sajeev answers:

Before I go completely bonkers over a Fox Body question, a question back: do you have adequate parking for everyone’s cars???

Thunderjet writes:

The parking situation is good with the extra fox. The Thunderbird and my fiance’s Mustang reside in the garage while the Focus sits in the driveway. I usually keep the Mark in the driveway as well but if weather is bad my parents have let me drop it off at their house. They have space in their garage they are not using.

I should also note that I purchased the AOD floor shifter from your 1988 Cougar XR-7 on foxtbirdcougarforums several years ago. I think you sold it to me for ten bucks. I still have it if I ever get the desire to remove the column shifter from my Thunderbird. And yes the graphic EQ in my Thunderbird still works. It’s wired through a JVC head unit and the factory amp.

Sajeev answers:

Since normal people won’t understand this graphic EQ hack, a photo from my Cougar to clarify:

Not only is the Fox one of the most customizable vehicles on the planet, the truly insane among us convert the Ford EQ’s wiring into RCA connections; making it work with any aftermarket stereo. And it sounds kinda great, too!

What a small world it is: you knew me back when I was a Fox UBB forum fiend!  Times change, but multiple housebound projects are doable for these reasons:

  1. Your intelligent and enviable debt-to-equity ratio.
  2. Ownership of a new vehicle as a daily driver.
  3. Enough space at your residence for cars, without pissing off your significant other.
  4. Intimate knowledge of the vehicles in question, with a great track record for success.
  5. Readily available parts and low-cost of ownership inherent in Fox Body (resto?) modification.
  6. A strong internet community to help you when needed. And a sympathetic resto-mod Cougar owning schmuck on TTAC too, if that helps.

You are one lucky duck. How do I know? This is kinda how I co-exist with my old Fords. BAM SON!

A final note: since you showed me yours, here’s mine. Getting rid of my shifter opened up room in the Cougar for a manual gearbox. Thanks for that. And best of luck with the LSC, I am jealous.

photo

I really, really want an cherry 88-89 LSC, just not with Porno Red leather. One of these Foxes is enough.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Ford: Gettelfinger Should Be Credited For Saving Company http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-gettelfinger-should-be-credited-for-saving-company/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-gettelfinger-should-be-credited-for-saving-company/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 12:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=782865 King + Gettlefinger - Ford + Mullaly

Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr. told CNBC this week that former United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger “doesn’t get enough credit for helping save Ford.

Automotive News reports the UAW worked closely with the Blue Oval to avoid the fates that befell Chrysler and General Motors in the run-up to the Great Recession, as Ford Jr. explained in a live interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”:

When our times were darkest in the ’07, ’08, ’09 time frame, the UAW helped our industry get back on its feet, helped Ford get back on its feet. Ron Gettelfinger, the former president of the United Auto Workers, doesn’t get enough credit for helping save Ford.

The chairman went on to say that in the automaker’s darkest hour, he turned to Gettelfinger to “save the Ford Motor Co.” For Ford, this meant concessions by the union, including two-tier wages, overtime pay after 40 hours of work, and giving up vacation time. In turn, the Blue Oval lowered labor cost to $58/hour per employee.

When asked why the UAW was turned away from the South — specifically the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. — Ford, Jr. noted the region’s attitude toward organized labor in general, as well as how the automaker views its workers in comparison:

Surprised? No, because there’s a long history of organizing that didn’t go well in the South. I would say this. We’ve had a great relationship with our workforce. I don’t look at them as union and nonunion but as Ford workers. … We have a lot of second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and even sixth-generation workers at Ford in our company.

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Dispatches do Brasil: Global Ranger Arrives In Brazil http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/dispatches-do-brasil-global-ranger-arrives-in-brazil/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/dispatches-do-brasil-global-ranger-arrives-in-brazil/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:06:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780561 Ford-Ranger-Sport-09-560x373

Serendipity is what I believe it’s called. On the day TTAC was aflutter with news and comments on the new Chevy Colorado and an out-of-the-box thinking proposal to get the Chevy Montana into the North American market, I got some news in my e-mail inbox. The new Ford Ranger has arrived in Brazil – but in regular cab form.

At about US$29,500, it is about 500 dollars more expensive than the priciest Fiat Strada. In Brazil, cars pay much higher taxes than in the US, but those prices mean very healthy margins. For that kind of dough, equipment on the Ranger is quite nice, but the ambience is the same in cars almost 10,000 dollars less. In other words, plastics, hard plastics and more plastics is what you find inside.

Besides plastic, the new truck offers power everything, a roll bar, graphics package, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a plethora of other niceties (or worthless add-ons depending on your perspective). Mechanically speaking, there’s an auto locking differential, ABS, EBD and the engine is an all-aluminum 2.5L I4 that has 168 or 173 hp if running on Brazilian gasoline (E+/-22) or pure Brazilian ethanol. Though that sounds relatively good, Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br says that at just 120km/h the engine is revving hard at 3,200 rpm.

Always an important thing in pickups, the bed is 7.5 feet long and has 1.800 L of volume up to the edges of said bed. This would be enough to carry two motorcycles in the bed without breaking too much of a sweat. It carries loads of up to 1400 kg, roughly double of the mini car-based trucklets and a far cry over the 900 kilos or so the Rangers that made it here in the mid 90s were good for.

The new single cab Ford Ranger takes indirect aim at the smaller Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro in Brazil, but it really competes against the Chevy S10 (known as Colorado in the US) and Toyota Hilux, both of which look rather unfortunate in the single cab configuration. The last single cab Ranger managed to sell about 10,000 units from 2007 until 2012, which compared to the roughly 10,000 sales a month the Fiat Strada manages is but a drop in the ocean. Would it suffer the same fate in North America or does the new single cab, long bed, global Ford Ranger have what it takes to become a player in America?

Note: All figures in this article taken from this article on bestcars.com.br.

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Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:03:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779481

Perhaps you haven’t lived in a flyover state where brown leather gear dominates your town during Rodeo season.  While the Ford+King Ranch press release celebrating the 15th Anniversary of those famous brown leather pickups reached the autoblogosphere, only a local writer with an internationally known knack for automotive snark both finds the sweet mochalicious lede and refuses to bury it in the dirt.

And what does that mean?  You gotta click to find out.

I’ve been blacklisted (brownlisted?) from Ford PR events as long as I remember, but I attended this shindig via the King Ranch side of the Ford+King Ranch love fest.  So I donned my cheap cowhide boots, my thrift store boot cut jeans and herded the Duratec Ranger’s 150-ish horses to the Rodeo…pardner.

IMG_2924

As the massive complex–housing the once amazing Astrodome—filled up, I noticed how this Rodeo’s grown in the last 10-20 years.  Ford’s booth hawked their latest wares much like any auto show, complete with a “media only” area for us bloggers, social media influencers and local autojournos. There was the new aluminum F-150, the new-ish Expedition and the current Super Duty…all in King Ranch guise, ‘natch.

And yes, the King Ranch is actually a famous Ranch, much like Bill Blass was a name on Lincolns attached to an actual person. They sold cowboy grade stuff nearby at their Saddle Shop at the Rodeo, too. But I digress…

IMG_2890

So what does a native Houstonian think of the aluminum cage’d F150? Pretty cool inside and out, as their design/engineering embodies continuous improvement, even if the rig is far too big for its own good. The doors close with less vault-like heft of the last-gen steel body, but it still feels great. And even the door card is all kinds of broughamy from the days of Ford LTDs with covered headlights and Ghia-clad Granadas.

IMG_2896

Now, even more than before, Ford’s take on the American Workhorse is the unquestioned Audi of Pickups.

IMG_2922

The new Expedition is a modest evolution, lacking the “WTF” face of the Tahoe’s buzz saw headlights. Its refined snout is a pleasurable throwback to the beard trimming grille of the UR-Fusion.

The hallmark all-wheel independent suspension and the massive fold flat 3rd row seat still bowl me over: shame on GM for not following suit.  But the interior feels distinctly cheap compared to the F-150. But every Ford product takes an R&D back seat to the almighty F-series, right? #pantherlove

 

IMG_2939

The Super Duty (ever present on the Rodeo’s dirt floor) has a new oil-burnin’ motor for 2015, but the stuff you can touch looks about the same.  The new-ish center stack loaded with SYNC looks functional enough, but again, the interior lacks the refinement of the F150.  Ditto the exterior.  But the King Ranch trimming in all three models drove home the fact that this is the brownest lineup in the car biz. Or at least the truck biz…and it’s been that way for 15 years now?

And, as a founding member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society on Facebook, a tail-wags-the-dog group that made brown as “important” as diesels and manual transmissions to auto journos and to the PR flacks that do anything to get their attention, it’s nice to believe our mission adds to the King Ranch’s reach. Because brown makes the King Ranch a cut above, even if the leather isn’t as buttery soft as before: hopefully the lack of tenderness means it’ll hold up better than older models.

Ford also had a brief presentation, after most guests Frank Bacon-ized themselves with free food/booze in the luxury suite.  Succumbing to the urge I felt in 2011 when buying my Ranger, I asked the Ford F-series rep why Dearborn talked me out of an F-150 by making it impossible to configure what I wanted: a regular cab, XLT, short bed, 4×4, limited slip differential with the 6.2L Hurricane-Boss V8.  You know, a Ford Tremor without the poseur trim, the tacky console and a half-ton of big block V8 instead of that funny soundin’ EcoBoost motor.

The rep went into some detail about the cost-benefit of offering everything under the sun (a fair point for any corporation, to some extent) and then threw me a bone:

“You definitely know what you want, maybe we can accommodate you in the future.”

So if the BOSS V8 ever shows up in some twisted FoMoCo homage to the GMC Syclone…well…YOU ARE WELCOME, SON. For now, enjoy these chocolatey photos showing a time when Ford, King Ranch and a lot of brown joined forces to impress rodeo-going pistonheads.

 

 

IMG_2888 IMG_2889 IMG_2890 IMG_2891 IMG_2892 IMG_2893 IMG_2894 IMG_2895 IMG_2896 IMG_2898 IMG_2900 IMG_2901 IMG_2902 IMG_2903 IMG_2904 IMG_2905 IMG_2907 IMG_2908 IMG_2909 IMG_2912 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2915 IMG_2917 IMG_2918 IMG_2922 IMG_2923 IMG_2924 IMG_2925 IMG_2926 IMG_2927 IMG_2928 IMG_2935 IMG_2936 IMG_2937 IMG_2939 kingranch photo IMG_2890 IMG_2896 IMG_2922 IMG_2936 IMG_2939 IMG_2924 kingranch photo ]]>
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America’s Best Selling Police Car Is Now A Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/americans-best-selling-police-car-is-now-a-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/americans-best-selling-police-car-is-now-a-crossover/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 23:02:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780081 450x300xFord-Taurus-Explorer-Police-Interceptor-450x300.jpg.pagespeed.ic.EiSRv6Y6ye

When Ford killed off the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, the police car market was left wide open. But the Blue Oval appears to have managed to brought a suitable replacement to market, though it’s not the traditional three-box police sedan.

Many departments found the Dodge Charger too cramped and the Chevrolet Caprice a tough sell to those in charge of purchasing (due to not being built in America). Ford’s Taurus Interceptor was tested by TTAC, and it too, was found to be too small for most police officers wearing a utility belt and holster.

According to USA Today, the Explorer-based Utility Interceptor appears to be the most popular Ford police car, and the best-selling police vehicle in America. Last year, Ford sold roughly 14,000 UIs while moving just under 11,000 of the Taurus based Interceptors, for an overall police vehicle market share of about 50 percent.

The UI’s larger interior and ability to hold more gear appears to be a big draw for many departments, and is the natural extension of the trend towards the adoption of the Chevrolet Tahoe (which will finally get an all-wheel drive Pursuit Rated version to compete with the AWD UI). Officers apparently like being higher up and enjoy the space that the two-box bodystyle affords. The balance hasn’t completly tipped in favor of the UI, and many departments are still happy with sedans. But the shift towards SUVs and CUVs in place of large sedans could be a harbinger for the broader auto market.

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Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? (PART II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape-part-ii/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:28:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=778665 Capture

We had two updates to a previous Piston Slap this weekend, surprisingly within two hours of each other.  Let’s hear from the OP first:

TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:

Sajeev, reporting back:

You may be interested in this, if for no other reason than to add to your diagnostic toolbox; my experience certainly can’t be unique: Several comments below your post also suggested the motor mount(s) as the problem. I more recently discussed this with a professional wrench acquaintance, who also said that the mounts can be expected to go south after ~80K miles; he suggested using a padded floor jack to lift slightly on the engine during a time when I detected the “rough” idle (the oil pan on this vehicle, and maybe all Duratec engines, is waffled cast aluminum). Bingo! The vibration ceased when I did that.

I have now changed the large mount on the passenger side of the engine compartment, and can report that the vibration is no longer present. But, there is a bonus prize to this story: for the last 25 – 30K miles, I’ve been also chasing a creaking noise which occurred – again more prominently during cold weather than hot – at any acceleration from a stop sign/light. I would have bet serious money that it was coming from the rear suspension, and in fact went so far as to replace 3 of the 4 control arms in the rear (they’re fairly cheap and easy to replace), with no success. Replaced the motor mount::creaking noise vanished like magic!

This vehicle is nothing great by any means – wife drives it 80% of the time and it suits her needs – and I don’t care that much for it, but these nagging issues really made me start to think about dumping it. Whole new attitude now – it will stay around for a while yet! Thanks for your help and thanks for reading this. I enjoy your posts greatly.

Sajeev answers:

Excellent!  Nice to see my initial armchair diagnosis was on the money. All it takes is a fractional difference in mount height from new to cause this problem. Maybe a millimeter, maybe less! No way can you eyeball this and know for sure.

I am totally diggin’ the padded floor jack on the oil pan trick.  Perhaps the pan needs reinforcement to work here, not just the old school sheet metal affairs. But perhaps all it takes is a little lift at one corner (i.e. not the big flat part of the pan) to prove the bad idle is indeed an engine mount vibration. Or put a long board on the jack so the weight is spread across the entire pan, from corner to corner.

No matter, glad to see you are now enjoying your ride much more.  It’s hard not to love it after getting your hands, arms, legs and even your mind “dirty” in a successful diagnosis of a seemingly impossible problem!

Then Rene writes:

Sajeev:

Greetings! I enjoy your fine column and blog very much. Keep up the fine work! With regard to the poor idle that your reader was looking for help with on his 2005 Mariner, I thought I would chime in after much experience with the Ford/Mazda Duratec family of V-6’s, particularly the 2001-2007 Tributes and Escapes. In addition, a 2003 Tribute with 199,000 miles is my daily driver. I have found that the V-6 idle issue, after all the usual culprits have been considered and/or remedied without result, could be these two things—a failed DPFE sensor, or the intake seals are cooked.

These V6 engines have a manifold on top which is bolted to a plenum riser, which in turn is bolted to the engine. There are six seals where each component meets the other, and as one might expect, after 100K the six seals between the plenum and the engine have grown crispy from age and heat (in far worse condition than the six plenum to manifold seals, which might still appear pliable). The lower seals harden and begin to suck air in, and this condition reveals itself the most noticeably by a poor idle and a drop in fuel mileage. I have had excellent results by replacing all the intake seals (a complete intake gasket set is required) as well as all of the smaller vacuum hoses, cleaning the MAF sensor (using MAF sensor cleaner, not carb cleaner) and air flow meter; in most cases, showroom floor idle is restored.

These engines also seem to favor Motorcraft platinum spark plugs; I’ve tried other plugs in a pinch or on sale, but the Motorcrafts produce the smoothest idle and best fuel mileage for me. Of course, if the DPFE sensor hasn’t ever been changed, it’s a good idea. This component is also exposed to a great deal of operating heat. Mine clocked 140,000 miles before it failed, but I’ve seen them go earlier….and later. You never know with those. Finally, my last fleeting thought on the subject: two half inch vacuum tubes tee from the large air intake hose (just after the MAF sensor housing) and each one plugs into a grommet in the rear of each valve cover. These grommets deteriorate from heat and contact with oil and fail with time, resulting in a vacuum leak that starts slowly but soon gets worse. These should also be checked and replaced if they are soft and gummy.

I hope that this info helps someone.

Sajeev concludes:

Thank you for writing! I thought a failed DPFE throw a check engine light (CEL)…as that’s my expereince in my ’95 Mark VIII. And boy, was that a fun sensor to replace on the MN-12 chassis! But I digress…

Rene’s great assessment of the Duratec V6s is something every long-term car owner must consider:  dried up gaskets and rubber vacuum lines that either go brittle or gummy.  And not just the usual suspects you see with a quick look under the hood, there could be gaskets you wouldn’t even consider unless you have the proper service manual and/or information from your model specific forum.  And if you own one of the millions of DOHC V6s shoehorned in a wrong wheel drive platform, well, I promise you that your eyeballs can’t find all the hidden gaskets and rubber bits.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Diesels, Refinement Key To Kiefer’s Vision Of Future GM Engine Development http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/diesels-refinement-key-to-kiefers-vision-of-future-gm-engine-development/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/diesels-refinement-key-to-kiefers-vision-of-future-gm-engine-development/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776809 Steve Kiefer

General Motors head of global powertrain and former Delphi senior vice president of powertrain systems Steve Kiefer aims to steer engine development toward a brighter future, one influenced by his love for diesels, quietness and refinement.

Automotive News reports Kiefer’s vision may have begun to come to fruition this week with the debut of the new Ecotec family of engines slated to power 25 percent of GM’s global lineup by 2017. The eleven engines are based on older-though-proven technology found in the cam chains, blocks and other components, resulting in a family with lower NVH than previous engines. The new Ecotec family is a reflection of Kiefer’s method of improving existing technology to accomplish what competing engines already do — such as Ford’s EcoBoost — for little cost in development and assembly.

Speaking of Ford, both the Blue Oval and the General are collaborating on a new generation of nine- and 10-speed transmissions for their respective pickups, with the latter expected to arrive in two years. Though no word has been said on whether GM will either use diesel power or smaller gasoline engines in their fullsize trucks, Kiefer’s experience on the supply side of the industry — especially in regards to knowing what the competition is doing to be green and efficient — could prove valuable in the long run.

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Why We May Not See The Next Ford Taurus, But China Will http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/why-we-may-not-see-the-next-for-taurus-but-china-will/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/why-we-may-not-see-the-next-for-taurus-but-china-will/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 19:22:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776209 2010_Ford_Taurus_Limited_2_--_10-31-2009

According to some outlets, the 2016 Ford Taurus will be both quicker and lighter than the outgoing car. That’s news to us here at TTAC – last we heard, the Taurus wasn’t even slated for North America.

Reeports by Edmunds and other outlets are claiming that the next Taurus will ditch the heavy, antiquated Volvo-based platform in favor of Ford’s more modern CD architecture that underpins the Fusion, the upcoming Ford Edge and other models. This is technically true.

Back in the spring of 2013, our sources told us that a CD-based Taurus was under development, but promptly sent to the garbage dump after its design bombed its consumer clinics. Marketing brass at Ford decided to kill the Taurus, due to dissatisfaction with the way it looked, and the sales volumes the Taurus generated. Given the accuracy of our sources regarding the F-150 and its aluminum construction, as well as the 2015 Mustang, we are inclined to believe them.

Ironically, Taurus sales have grown by nearly 20 percent over the past two years, despite a shrinking full-size car market. But the long-term trend suggests that larger sedans (what’s considered mid-size, as well as full-size) will undergo a contraction in sales, as CUVs take a bigger bite out of the segment.

The full-size sedan market is heavily weighted towards fleet sales, and with the Fusion outselling the Taurus by a roughly 4:1 ratio, it’s understandable that Ford would not want to renew the Taurus for another model cycle. Other considerations, like the Taurus being a drag on Ford’s CAFE ratings (remember, large cars get punished under CAFE, whereas trucks don’t) and the stronger sales of the Explorer Police Interceptor may give the Taurus-killers some more ammo.

One place where the Taurus could survive is in China. Ford is already planning a large Lincoln flagship, codenamed GOBI. Based on the CD architecture and targeted at Chinese business consumers by emphasizing rear seat comfort and amenities, GOBI will replace what we know as the Lincoln MKS in both China and the United States. Our source thinks that a new Taurus, twinned with GOBI, could be a possibility for China – but its future in America is in doubt.

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If The Big Lebowski Were Filmed Today, What Car Would The Dude Drive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/if-the-big-lebowski-were-filmed-today-what-car-would-the-dude-drive/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773897 Big_Lebowski_Torino_Crash-550pxBefore the Clint Eastwood film (but after the cheezoid TV show), the most well-known Ford Gran Torino in cinema history was the beater ’73 sedan driven by Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski. This film, which took quite a while to go from box-office dud to sacred document of the Lebowski Jihad, was released in 1998 and was set in late 1990 or early 1991 (a period during which I was also in Southern California and living a fairly Dude-ish lifestyle myself). The choice of a ’73 Gran Torino by the Coen Brothers makes some interesting statements for those who obsess about movie cars, and Monday is always the best day to discuss such things.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Impound-550pxLooking at 1990/1991 from the perspective of 1998, you’ve got a nasty recession being observed via dot-com boom-tinted glasses, the first one-sided ass-kicking dished out by the US military since Vietnam from the point of view of an ascendant hyperpower, and so forth. At the same time, the latter years of the 1990s saw cars that could knock of 200,000 miles becoming commonplace, with carburetors and mechanical ignition systems dead as global Marxism-Leninism. With all that in mind, The Dude’s car had to be something from the Malaise Era, for symbolic location along the Malaise-Gulf War-Hyperpower continuum as well as for the fact that unemployable Los Angeles loadies could be expected to drive 18-year-old midsize sedans.
Big_Lebowski_Torino_Brochure-550pxSo the question here is: What would be this car’s equivalent today? If you’re just going by straight model years, a 2014 movie set in 2006 with the protagonist driving an 18-year-old midsize Ford sedan would give us a 1988 Taurus… and it’s easy to picture the 2006 Dude clanking along in a hooptified first-gen Taurus.
10 - 1986 Hyundai Excel Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' GredenHowever, the runup in global commodities prices in the second half of the first decade of the century meant that larger cars were worth a fair amount at the scrapper, which means that even the ugliest Taurus floated a bit above the very bottom of the car-value barrel. That’s why I think that The Dude of 2006 would drive an early Hyundai Excel. What do you think?

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Piston Slap: A Faltering Ford’s ESP? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-faltering-fords-esp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-faltering-fords-esp/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773537

Mark writes:

Sajeev–

I’m sure you’ve fielded similar questions in the past, but in the spirit of basic cable, here’s a potential re-run: I have a 2012 Mustang V6 with the performance package & a 6-speed manual. It’s coming up on 26k miles, so I’ve got 10k miles and/or about 9 months before the 3/36 bumper to bumper warranty expires. The car has had a couple issues covered under warranty so far, with the biggest one being a new steering box at about 15k miles. A nearby Ford dealer will sell me a Ford factory warranty (not an aftermarket roll of the dice) to basically double the 3/36 coverage for about $1200.

That comes with a $100 deductible, and if I sell the car before the warranty expires, I can have the unused portion refunded to me. Normally I wouldn’t consider buying an extended warranty, but I’ve had just enough trouble with the car up to this point, and read enough horror stories about the MT82 gearbox, to make me think about it. I’m really not sure how long I’ll keep the car, but I do like the idea of having that warranty security blanket as long as I do. What’s your take?

Sajeev answers:

Nothing wrong with revisiting a classic!  We’ve previously said that “scary” Euro-metal needs an extended warranty, provided you shop around for the best price. And that less scary metal might not benefit from any warranty, even the factory one with fancy Lexus loaner cars and plush Lexus lounges. So why not discuss in terms of Ford’s ESP plan?

This commonplace, low value Ford product (unlike the Lexus and BMW) is not an easy vehicle to armchair assess and judge.  Aside from the well known MT82, will an “unmodified” Mustang have significant failure in the next 72,000-ish miles and 3-ish years? I am guessing not.  And will the MT82 survive under the V6′s less aggressive torque curve and your shifting behavior?  That’s entirely possible.

Back to the unmodified part: assuming you aren’t skirting warranty issues with an non-stock engine tune (that pushes the boundaries of “safe” aftermarket air-fuel ratios) or aftermarket suspension bits, etc. you aren’t likely to break anything large enough to justify the cost of the warranty.

My gut says no, don’t get an extended warranty.  Instead get a local mechanic that you trust, and use places like Rockauto and eBay for getting spares. But if the peace of mind suits you, stick with the factory (i.e. Ford ESP) warranty and shop around: perhaps you can get it for less by emailing dealerships across the country.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Cain’s Segments: Trucks Redux http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cains-segments-trucks-redux/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cains-segments-trucks-redux/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 05:47:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769570 450x244x2014-Chevrolet-Silverado-1500-Exterior-006-450x244.jpg.pagespeed.ic.zAXX8qzO80

February 2014 sales of America’s six continuing full-size pickup lineups grew 1.8%, but GM’s truck twins, the newest trucks on the block, fell 8.9%. Ford, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan combined for an 8.7% year-over-year increase to 94,225 units. The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra’s decline equalled a loss of 4960 units compared with February 2013.

These full-size trucks accounted for 12.2% of the U.S. auto industry’s total February 2014 volume, up slightly from 11.9% in the equivalent period one year earlier.

Although the F-Series’ gain of 2.6% appears slight, this improvement occurred in an auto market which grew not at all. Moreover, a 2.6% increase for the F-Series adds 1393 extra units of a very profitable vehicle, more added sales than the Chevrolet Volt managed in total.

Total Ford brand sales slid more than 7% in February as car volume plunged 16.8% and sales of the Blue Oval’s five utility vehicles dropped 4.3%. Ford’s car division outsold the F-Series by just 1354 units; the F-Series outsold the utility vehicle lineup by 3040 units. 30.5% of the new vehicles sold by the Ford Motor Company last month were F-Series pickups.

At the Chrysler Group, where car sales dropped 14.7% and generated just 29% of the company’s February sales volume, the Ram Pickup range’s 28.4% improvement was more than welcome. And it was also expected. Over the eleven months leading up to February, the average year-over-year Ram P/U sales increase weighed in at 25.5%. From 16.3% in February 2013, Ram’s share of the full-size truck market (extinguished Escalade EXT and Avalanche excluded) rose to 20.2% in February 2014.

Often mocked for its inability to crank out sales like the top-selling Detroit trucks, the Toyota Tundra continues to be a somewhat popular vehicle by conventional automobile standards. Through the first two months of 2014, it ranks 41st among all vehicles in total U.S. sales, having ended 2013 as America’s 43rd-best-selling vehicle. Tundra sales have increased in each of the last five months, but the current pace won’t have Toyota matching 2007’s high-water mark. Toyota could easily sell more than 120,000 Tundras in 2014 – 196,555 were sold in 2007.

Analyzing the Nissan Titan’s market penetration as it begins its eleventh full year without any meaningful refresh is like studying the merits of a veteran linebacker’s knack for sacking in the twilight of his career. The Titan has for the most part become irrelevant, a fact which won’t make the reintroduction process an easy one when the new Titan arrives. Titan sales reached their peak in 2005 at 86,945 units, fell below 20,000 units four years later, and totalled just 15,691 in 2013. Titan volume is down 33.8% this year and February market share in the category fell below 1%.

From a market share-losing perspective, the Chevrolet Silverado’s decline was worse. (Obviously, the Silverado is America’s second-best-selling vehicle. The Titan is not.) 29.2% of the segment’s sales were Silverado-derived at this time last year, but last month, that figure fell to 25.2%. GMC Sierra market share declined by only a hair, from 9.9% in February 2013 to 9.8% last month.

As a whole, the pickup truck segment generated 11% of its February 2014 sales with small/midsize trucks, on par with results from the equivalent period one year earlier. Thank the Nissan Frontier. Sales of the Titan’s little brother shot up 112% to 5791 units.

Truck
Feb.
2014
Feb.
2013
%
Change
2 mos.
2014
2 mos.
2013
%
Change
Ford F-Series
55,882 54,589 + 2.6% 102,418 101,330 + 1.1%
Chevrolet Silverado
36,584 41,643 - 12.1% 65,510 77,088 - 15.0%
Ram P/U
29,303 23,289 + 25.8% 54,374 43,763 + 24.2%
GMC Sierra
14,232 14,133 + 0.7% 25,350 26,979 - 6.0%
Toyota Tundra
7923 7306 + 8.4% 15,813 14,310 + 10.5%
Nissan Titan
1117 1634 - 31.6% 2004 3028 - 33.8%
Total
145,041
142,494 + 1.8% 265,469 266,498 - 0.4%

 

Truck
Feb.
2014
Share
Feb.
2013
Share
2 mos.
2014
Share
2 mos.
2013
Share
Ford F-Series
38.5% 38.2% 38.6% 38.0%
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
35.0% 39.1% 34.2% 39.0%
Ram P/U
20.2% 16.3% 20.5% 16.4%
Toyota Tundra
5.5% 5.1% 6.0% 5.4%
Nissan Titan
0.8% 1.1% 0.8% 1.1%
Full-Size Share Of
Total Pickup Truck Market
89.0% 87.6% 88.7% 87.2%
Full-Size Pickup Share
Of Total Industry
12.2% 11.9% 12.0% 11.9%
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Ford Medium-Duty Truck Production Moving To Ohio In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-medium-duty-truck-production-moving-to-ohio-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-medium-duty-truck-production-moving-to-ohio-in-2015/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:30:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=768738 2015 Ford F-650

With the Econoline passing the torch to the Transit Connect at the end of this year, Ford is in the process of moving production of the F-650 and F-750 from Mexico to Ohio in time for the medium-duty trucks’ redesign for 2015.

Bloomberg reports the automaker is cutting ties with Navistar International in a joint venture based in Escobedo, Mexico to take full control of the two medium-duty trucks in their transfer to Avon Lake, Ohio, bringing the entire F-Series line — and the profits made up and down the chain — in-house as Ford’s president of the Americas Joe Hinrichs explains:

We’re doing this to bring the 650-750 production in-house so that we have complete design, manufacturing and engineering control over our F-series lineup. It’s so critical to be able to offer our commercial customers everything from an F-150 all the way to an F-750 and to know it’s built by Ford.

The relocation will preserve 1,600 jobs while honoring an agreement made between Ford and the United Auto Workers in 2011, with no added jobs or change in labor costs resulting from the move.

Hinrichs expects it will take less than the 13 weeks needed to transition the two F-150 plants from steel to aluminium-body production, with tooling from the Mexico plant already being put into place:

A lot of equipment has been going in on the fly. It’s not what we would classify as a new body shop, but the investment that’s being made largely is for equipment in the body shop and for tooling associated with building the 650 and 750.

The transition will occur in time for the F-650′s and F-750′s 2015 redesign, though the medium-duty trucks will remain steel-bodied.

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Junkyard Find: 1962 Ford Galaxie Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1962-ford-galaxie-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1962-ford-galaxie-coupe/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=768322 21 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinToday’s Junkyard Find isn’t the first ’62 Galaxie we’ve seen in the series. Yes, we had this ’62 Galaxie with the very rare Harlequin paint option more than three years ago. The second-gen Galaxie sometimes gets overlooked these days, because the Chevy Impala of the same era has become so iconic, but it’s a very good-looking car. Unfortunately, even a fairly straight two-door hardtop Galaxie with big-block isn’t worth restoring these days, so this example ended up in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard late last year.
16 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome dealership, or maybe the junkyard, tried and failed to sell this car for $1,999. Look, “engine runs good.”
11 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinTypical of California cars of this age, there’s no cancer in the wheelwells or fenders, but the areas where rainwater builds up under trim pieces have rotted.
07 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last year that car radios were required to have the CONELRAD atomic-attack-alert radio stations (640 kHz and 1240 kHz) was 1963, though I owned a ’69 Toyota that still had the CONELRAD marks.

So, the driver of this brand-new Galaxie would know when he or she had to duck and cover.
03 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf course, some later owner installed this Field Expedient Engineering cassette deck under the dash.
02 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty much toast, which is the main reason this car wasn’t worth fixing up.
23 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine is some member of the Ford FE family, which in most cases isn’t worth rescuing from the wrecking yard.
25 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Thunderbird valve cover should indicate that it’s a somewhat desirable 340-horse 390 instead of the scrap-metal-value 352. Heck, maybe it’s even the 385-horsepower 406!
26 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBut then the regular FORD valve cover on the other side argues for the 352 or low-performance 390. These cars had so many engine swaps over the years that the only way to tell what you’ve got here is to scrape off the mung and look at block and head casting numbers.
13 - 1962 Ford Galaxie Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy the time you read this, today’s Junkyard Find has already been crushed, shredded, and put in a container at the nearby Port of Oakland.

I couldn’t find a ’62 Galaxie ad, but this one for the ’61 gives you the sense of class Ford was shooting for with these cars.

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Junkyard Find: 1967 Lincoln Continental http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1967-lincoln-continental/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1967-lincoln-continental/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766745 40 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 1961-1969 Lincoln Continental, with its suicide doors and slab sides, is recognized by most as the styling pinnacle of the Lincoln brand in the postwar era. Very nice early examples are worth pretty decent money, but a ’67 in beyond-basket-case condition is worth whatever scrap cars are fetching per ton. Here’s a thoroughly used-up ’67 that I found recently in a Denver wrecking yard.
44 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car appears to have spent many years bleaching in the High Plains sun; there’s not much Michigan-style rust, but the interior is completely baked. It’s hard to imagine that Richard Nixon’s plush limousine was also a ’67 Continental.
35 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the upholstery is dry as Moon soil.
15 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLikewise, the vinyl top.
41 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has a great big 462-cubic-inch MEL engine.
32 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHey, some sort of primitive cruise control!
29 - 1967 Lincoln Continental Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThermostat-controlled HVAC systems were super-high-tech in 1967.

Watching the wind rustle a torn plastic-bag “window” in a once-proud luxury car while The Crusher clanks ominously in the background… well, it tends to remind you of your own mortality.

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2015 Ford Super Duty Best In Class In Torque, Towing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2015-ford-super-duty-best-in-class-in-torque-towing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/2015-ford-super-duty-best-in-class-in-torque-towing/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:10:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766265 2015-Ford-F-450-Super-Duty-front-three-quarters

Answering the challenge made by the Ram 3500 in torque and towing capacity, Ford revealed the news that the 2015 F Series Super Duty lineup will include a more powerful diesel engine with enough boulder-tossing torque and space shuttle-towing capacity to maintain dominance over Truck Mountain.

AutoGuide reports the lineup’s new source of power comes from a 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbodiesel pumping out a best-in-class rating of 440 horses and 860 lb-ft of torque through the rear or all four wheels. The compacted graphite iron engine, complete with larger turbo and new injectors maximized for improved response, allows the F-350 to tow up to 26,500 lbs with a gross combined weight of 35,000 lbs, while the F-450 smashes the towing scale thrown down by the Ram with a capacity of 31,200 lbs via gooseneck, 26,500 lbs via fifth wheel; gross combined weight comes to 40,000 lbs.

Under the body, the Super Duty line also received extensive upgrades to the chassis, brakes, suspension, and for the F-450, commercial-grade 19.5-inch wheels and tires.

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Geneva 2015: Facelifted Ford Focus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/geneva-2015-facelifted-ford-focus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/geneva-2015-facelifted-ford-focus/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 00:07:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=765809 2015-Ford-Focus-04

 

Making its first appearance at Geneva is the facelifted Ford Focus, which gets the corporate schnoz, as well as the 1.0L Ecoboost three-cylinder for the North American market.

 

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Geneva 2014: Ford Focus ST Gets Diesel Variant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/geneva-2014-ford-focus-st-gets-diesel-variant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/geneva-2014-ford-focus-st-gets-diesel-variant/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 15:48:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=765465 450x278x2014-Ford-Focus-ST-Exterior-450x278.jpg.pagespeed.ic.bgHJlXRdKP

With the Ford Focus ST due for a mid-cycle refresh in Europe, Ford apparently announced a diesel version of their hot hatch at a dinner after Day 1 of the Geneva Auto Show.

AutoExpress reports that the oil-burner will be powered by a

a 2.0 TDCi engine, the diesel ST will have 182bhp (1bhp more than the GTD) and cover 0-62mph in eight seconds – 0.5 seconds slower than the Golf. CO2 emission will be 114g/km, while the chassis will get the same suspension and steering tune as the petrol-powered Focus ST. A ‘heavily revised steering mount to reduce wheel hop and eliminate steering thump’ has been added, along with new wheels and tyres and further tweaks to improve steering feel. 

Photos of the new ST have not been released yet.

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