Ur-Turn: The Hater's Guide To The Ford GT
TTAC and the Blue Oval have a wonderful back channel that bears all kinds of fruit. Information on the new Mustang, the F-150’s aluminum construction, the subsequent delays in manufacturing aluminum bodies and the Raptor’s upcoming EcoBoost engine were just some of the scoops we’ve obtained via our sources. We also blew it when we called BS on the new Ford GT.
As it turned out, the car is real. But it’s being done outside of normal channels, and this could have potential negative consequences for buyers of this very exclusive, very expensive supercar. A few of our sources penned this editorial to help shed some light on the matter. They are drawing on their collective experience in various functions to help illustrate how the GT was developed, and why the secret, skunkworks nature of the project could be negative.
If you’ve read any media outlet (automotive or otherwise), you’ll know that the new Ford performance group will be releasing 12 performance inspired vehicles coming before 2020. The star of the show is the Ford GT, with its carbon fiber construction and mid-mounted EcoBoost V6 engine. The reception from the press could not have been any more enthusiastic. The last thing we need is to throw more lube on the collective media hand job for this car.
TRIGGER WARNING: The following editorial might be offensive to Ford fanboys, supercar geeks and those who aren’t acquainted with the way things work inside Ford. You have been warned.
When Derek gave us a call about the initial rumors of the GT, we figured it was bullshit. Derek went and published a story based on the best information we had, which was that this car did not exist, and was a media fantasy concocted to gin up some pageviews. It turns out we were wrong for the right reasons, and Derek went with the information he had.
See, normal production cars follow Ford’s Global Production Development system. At the tail end of GPDS is a coordination of multifunctional teams, who orchestrate a vehicle launch that entails the manufacturing of a vehicle that meets internal quality standards at Job 1. This car was not developed utilizing normal production channels within FoMoCo. It wasn’t greenlit by the same decision makers that funnel product into GPDS projects controlled by Ford’s internal QOS (Quality Operating System).
A full explanation of GPDS would be an editorial broaching 5000 words, so we’ll focus on one specific part, where the design is taken from the studio and funneled into manufacturing. There are four divisions of engineering that guide product along a launch QOS once it leaves the studio. Vehicle Operations (manufacturing engineers, known as VOMEs), STA’s (Supplier Technical Assistance engineers), and D&R’s (Design and Release engineers). Design and Release engineers take the design from the design studio and funnel it into a production system.
These engineers are divided into Program Management Teams – Body Exterior, Body Interior, Chassis, Powertrain, Electrical, and Vehicle Engineering / Integration. After launch, these D&R’s follow the product after PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) to ensure warranty and customer issues are actively handled by either design or manufacturing initiatives. Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering handles all tooling, manpower and processes at the plant level. Sheet metal stamping, body fabrication, paint and final assembly.
They are masters of the production operating systems and plant QOS’s. They know what can and cannot be controlled by the OEM when it comes to critical and significant characteristics of the design. What links the STA to VOME is the control of pass through characteristics from the supplier. There are certain design elements that you want to control (dictated by the D&R’s DFMEA) and if the OEM plant doesn’t have the man, material or machine (most of the time, in house quality is stifled by labor costs), the supplier has to control it. STA ensures the supplier is production ready prior to launch.
They also work through the launch and into production to ensure the supplier is producing good product. This is usually done by following up on warranty and incoming quality issues and ensuring robust containment and permanent corrective actions are administered by the supplier. Lastly, VE/VI engineers would ensure pre-production drive fleets meet NVH and performance standards expected by the customer.
Since this super car is non-GPDS (or doesn’t show evidence of this) and didn’t follow the internal avenues that Ford products normally follow (including the 2005-era GT), all the above has not and will not occur for this program.
If the above is correct, we can assume this car is a small capital project. We can assume that Ford Racing / Performance did most of the design work. It would also make sense if the suppliers / contract manufacturers ( which we understand to be Multimatic) are doing full service ‘launch’ support. Did durability drives, pre-production test fleets or internal quality audits identify issues prior to production? We can safely assume all quality functions of this product were handled by the design team who developed it. Ford Racing and Performance single handedly launched this product (with the assistance of Multimatic). You are driving a car designed by a team focused solely on performance and making a big splash for Ford Marketing. Sounds great, right? Well, it’s less than optimal when your flagship $300,000 supercar (yes, it will be that expensive) has a questionable pedigree in production and quality operating systems.
The vetting process was most likely limited to virtual simulations and track days. APQP was probably an afterthought. The upside is that this is reminiscent of the days of engineers making race cars out of vehicles that they pluck from the chassis line. It’s a romantic idea, but these days, consumers expect their supercar to not be a complete piece of shit, even if it’s a hand-built exotic.. The 2000’s era GT had its share of quality issues and that had production support at the plant level. We can only imagine how this is going down. Ford is pushing a great story, talking about how the car was designed in secret in a basement. But we know that the “secret” basement area is really a damp, mouldy chamber where suppliers are relegated to. In all likelihood, it was penned, dropped in the lap of Multimatic and will resemble a giant scale model kit when completed. Don’t believe the hype.
This leads me to another important facet of GPDS – the plant manufacturing engineer. The supplier, STA engineer and plant vehicle team engineer (PVT) monitor customer satisfaction metrics. The PVT keeps their thumbs on the goal and drives the VOME team and supplier to meet that goal. The bar is set to yield better product to the customer. Since this is a limited run or 300 units, you can bet your ass that there isn’t any PVT support for this program.
The prior GT was built at Wixom Assembly Plant. It followed GPDS. It had a support structure. Whether that system worked for it is up for debate. The 2016 GT is as ‘Ford’ as the “stock” cars that pound the pavement at Talladega. What we witnessed was a Halo car propped up to serve the heritage of the company and to promote the Ecoboost/Racing tie-in. The GT is a great marketing exercise. The NAIAS introduction – with no advance leaks, no embargoes and no build-up, was masterful. It looks like every boy’s dream car. But it’s nothing more than a marketing exercise being brought to life in a slap-dash manner.
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- MaintenanceCosts This class of car competes hard with Chargers/Challengers and modded diesel pickups for the douchey-driving crown.
- 28-Cars-Later Corey - I think I am going to issue a fatwa demanding a cool kids car meetup in July somewhere in the Ohio region.
- Master Baiter Might as well light 50 $100 bills on fire.
- Mike1041 At $300K per copy they may secure as much as 2 or 3 deposits of $1,000
- Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
GT roots. Is this not exactly how the first generation of this car was born? As an enormous racing fan, I've heard the rumors for a while about a return to Le Mans for the GT and now they've announced Ganassi will head up the 2016 campaign. Sorry about any hurt feelings of the proper channels at Ford or any rich people looking for a city cruising supercar. It looks to me like Ford is trying to build a badass racing entry the same way they did in the 60's when they crossed the finish line 4 wide with the overall victory. I for one couldn't be more excited and I'm a massive corvette fan.
What the hell's the point of this post?