Ford's New Launch Control Isn't Aimed At The Quarter-Mile

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

It seems like just yesterday that your humble author was bitching up a storm about having to deal with a recalcitrant Ford EasyFill fuel filler.

That’s because it was just yesterday.

Had I waited another day to gripe about it, I would have seen that Ford’s already on the job.

The Quality job. Which is supposed to be Job #1.

Automotive News reports that Ford is taking a more critical look at launch-time quality-control issues:

The Escape and MKZ launch woes were the most publicized. A cooling problem that emerged on the 2013 Escape could cause engine fires. There were no injuries, but Ford asked owners of some Escapes with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engines to park their vehicles until repairs could be made. Ford tweaked the engine software to address the problem.

Quality glitches and parts shortages at the factory in Hermosillo, Mexico, forced Ford to ship hundreds of MKZs to its Flat Rock, Mich., assembly plant for quality inspections and repairs this year… In addition, Hinrichs said, some Ford Fusions had to be brought to Flat Rock for extra inspections and repairs. He did not specify the problems except to say they were similar to the MKZ’s. The cars share the same mid-sized sedan platform and many suppliers, and they are built on the same line at Hermosillo.

Nobody mentioned the Ford Pinto in the above-quoted article, but I think we’ve all moved on from that particular issue, except for the folks who were, like, totally burned to a crisp in Pintos and never got a chance to move on. It’s a little-known fact that the infamous General Motors X-car brake problem was actually, according to certain very well-respected lifestyle journalists, a counter-engineering attempt to make sure that Citations, Phoenixes, Omegas, and Skylarks would spin 180 degrees before hitting a stopped Pinto ahead of them. This prevented the Citation driver from being unduly concerned by the sight of the impending Pinto ass-ramming and allowed the Pinto’s fuel tank to be cushioned by the Citation’s more thoroughly-engineered fuel tank in a maneuver known to modern drivers as the “Jennifer Connelly”.

The flag-waving American in me would like to humbly suggest that one way to fix the Lincoln MKZ issues would be to build the Lincoln MKZ in the United States, since apparently they’re going to wind up there anyway for extra inspections. Given that globalism has become a Thing You Must Not Question on both sides of the American political divide, however, I’ll keep my mouth shut and stick to the article as reported. I won’t mention Jennifer Connelly again, either. Except to say that “The Hot Spot” is worth seeing even if you aren’t a Don Johnson fan, or a Virginia Madsen fan. But if you are neither of those things, I don’t want to hear about it.

Where were we? Oh yes. Ford’s going to take a sharper look at launch-time quality-control issues. I’m glad they’re doing it. Ford has some of the most interesting product in the market right now and it would be a shame if that product was overlooked because of small problems. One thing about this business: fortune doesn’t always favor the bold.

Join the conversation
3 of 56 comments
  • StudeDude StudeDude on May 07, 2013

    "The Hot Spot"----directed by Dennis Hopper. Decent film noir with Connelly and Madsen as interesting female counterpoints, not to mention that Johnson drives a nice Studebaker Hawk. Good reference, Jack.

  • AFX AFX on May 07, 2013

    Ford's new slogan: "Quality Is Job Juan".

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 08, 2013

      Nice one, I've actually made that comment among my circle of friends.

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.