Michigan to Mexico: Ford's Upcoming Electric Crossover Moves House

In public, automakers talk a great game about the industry’s electric future. The money poured into the development of electric vehicles is necessary, they say, in order to stay competitive in a changing marketplace. It wasn’t long ago that Ford claimed 100 miles of range was just fine for an EV model; not long after, following the introduction of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt, it announced the development of an EV crossover with far greater (300-mile) range.

Whether or not electric power becomes the dominant propulsion source in the United States remains to be seen, but no automaker can be seen resting on its laurels, shunning the most hyped technology. That doesn’t mean a company can’t be realistic about it, though.

Ford’s electric crossover, expected to roll out of Michigan’s Flat Rock assembly plant in 2020, will instead roll out out of a factory in a much warmer (and cheaper) locale.

Read more
Ford to Launch 50 New Vehicles by 2025… in China

Practically every automaker seeking to expand its global footprint is courting China right now. Ford Motor Company has already signed an agreement with Anhui Zotye Automobile to set up a $754 million joint venture focused on electric cars in the hopes it can get a head start on the country’s fast-approaching EV mandate.

With so much opportunity for growth, major manufacturers see Asia as a ripening market as North America withers on the vine. With that in mind, Ford has announced plans to launch 50 new vehicles in China by 2025.

Read more
November 2017 Pickup Sales Winners and Losers

Barring a blockbuster December, 2017’s light duty vehicle sales stand to dip below 2016’s record 17.55 million units. The National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts 17.1 million sales in the U.S. this calendar year, with 2018 sales falling to 16.7 million vehicles.

Bad news for automakers? Not if profits stay up. And nothing generates profits quite like large volumes of high-margin vehicles — pickup trucks, to be exact. While November 2017 was a relatively flat month for the industry, a closer look at the pickup segment shows America’s love affair with trucks is keeping the money taps flowing.

Read more
John Cena Sued By Ford for Flipping His GT Supercar

Ford wasn’t kidding about wanting to keep ownership of the GT as exclusive as possible. In addition to setting production numbers incredibly low, the company also carefully vetted prospective supercar buyers and made them promise not to resell the vehicle for at least two years.

While atypical of Ford-branded vehicles, clauses like that aren’t uncommon among high-end manufacturers selling an ultra-rare model. But what happens when a customer decides to ignore the contract and flip the vehicle prematurely?

Well, as wrestling-icon John Cena found out, the automaker takes you to court. On Thursday, Ford Motor Company filed suit against Cena in the U.S. District Court in Michigan over breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.

Read more
Ford's Marketing Strategy for Plug-in F-150 Fixates on More Power

The pervasive opinion among truck enthusiasts and industry experts is that nobody cares about plug-in hybrid pickups. Fuel economy isn’t a major priority among those in the market for something that can haul bales of hay or a stable of horses.

This poses a problem for pickup manufacturers striving for lower emissions and fuel consumption. Ford, which previously lightened the F-150 and outfitted it with a bevy of more economical engines, knows this problem better than most.

However, Ford is pressing onwards. It even intends to bring a hybrid plug-in variant of its ultra-popular pickup to the market in the coming years. But how is it going to market the technology to consumers who are unlikely to care? The company has strategy for that and it’s less reliant on fuel savings than you might expect.

Read more
Yet Another Stakeout: Ford Positions Its Plug-in Fusion As the Cure for Idling Cops

If Lennie Briscoe were alive today, it’s hard to say how the fictional .38-packing NYPD detective would view this break from tradition. He might dryly wonder aloud whether the force faced an easier time cleaning up its fleet than cleaning up the streets, and went with the path of least resistance.

Nevertheless, as the era of the electric police car is already tentatively here, Ford figured it was probably a good time to give detectives, agents, and other plainclothed types their own plug-in option. The automaker has announced a plug-in hybrid version of its Fusion sedan specifically targeted at government and police.

Never has rolling up to that warehouse near the docks been accomplished with such stealth.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1989 Ford Tempo All Wheel Drive

Ford Tempos (and their Mercury Topaz siblings) were sold in such vast numbers during their 1984-1994 run that I encounter plenty of examples during my junkyard explorations. Normally, I wouldn’t bother photographing a discarded Tempo/Topaz, for the same reason I won’t photograph a Chrysler Cirrus or Kia Sephia, but there are two exceptions to my No Tempos rule: the diesel-engined cars and the all-wheel-drive cars.

Here’s an extremely rare example of the latter type, spotted in a Denver area self-service yard last week.

Read more
Low Energi: Production Ends on Ford's C-Max Plug-in, With Hybrid to Follow

It’s a near-silent swan song for a duo of electrified Ford models. The Ford C-Max, which debuted in late 2012 in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid form, hit its sales peak during its first full year on the market, declining every year since.

As Ford Motor Company shakes up its U.S. production landscape — ironically, to bolster production of trucks and SUVs — the ungainly-looking C-Max is on its way to the cemetery. The automaker has confirmed the ceasing of production of the C-Max Plug-in, with the Hybrid variant to follow in the middle of next year.

Read more
Ford Channels Its Inner Tony Stark, Deploys Exoskeleton

It might not allow Ford line workers to lift 100 tons like Iron Man, but new tech being trialed at Ford might prevent serious injury on the job.

Called EksoVest, the wearable technology elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It’s the latest example of advanced technology showing up on assembly lines to reduce the physical toll on employees.

Read more
Ford's Hackett: 'Dumb Cars' Will Be a Thing of the Past

“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car,” Jim Hackett, Ford chief executive officer, exclaimed at the Michigan CEO Summit in Detroit on Thursday. But he promises there will be “no dumb cars in the future.”

The executive was not assuring attendees that Ford has no plans to revive the Mustang II, rather, he was talking about the brand’s continued efforts to press onward into the development of electric, connected, and self-driving automobiles on a global scale. With Wall Street still fixated on tech, it would be surprising to hear any automotive executive say otherwise.

Read more
Last Whiz Kid Dies at 101: Arjay Miller Served as Ford Motor Company's Seventh President

You don’t reach the ripe old age of 101 without accumulating a few stories, and by all accounts, Arjay Miller had them in spades. The former Ford Motor Company “Whiz Kid,” part of a group of young men hired en masse by Henry Ford II following the Second World War, joined his colleagues in turning around a once-revolutionary automaker that had fallen behind the times.

After achieving this goal, Miller found himself president of the company, only to give up the cushy, high-flying executive existence for the low-paid academic life he seemed to prefer.

Read more
It's End-of-year Incentive Time, but One Deal Stands Out

Snow has already touched Minneapolis pavement, meaning it’s time for automakers to hurry up and clear out 2017 models. Special offers, like the coming winter, are rolling in fast.

Not surprisingly, many of the end-of-year incentives target the increasingly unloved passenger car segment. If two or four doors and a trunk is your bag, you’re in luck, though crossover shoppers aren’t being ignored in the rush to unload old inventory. However, if you’re a fan of the Big H, and especially its sportier offerings, Christmas might have just arrived early.

Read more
Ford Joins Forces With Zotye to Build Baby-sized Electric Cars for China

In August, Ford began exploring a possible joint venture with Chinese automaker Anhui Zotye to build electric vehicles in China. While we didn’t know what they would be building exactly, sales of battery-only and gasoline-electric hybrids in China rose by 50 percent last year to roughly 336,000 deliveries — odds were good that whatever came of the team-up would remain in Asia.

Then, on Wednesday, the two companies reached an agreement. Ford and Zotye have greenlit a $756 million joint venture for the creation of an entirely new brand focused on small EVs. The vehicles will probably be among the most petite Ford will offer in Asia, as it has already committed itself to shifting at least 70 percent of Ford-branded vehicles sold in the country to electrified powertrain by 2025. The new brand will also produce “city cars” as its primary stock.

Read more
Truck Buyers Made a Choice in October (and Chose the Bigger One)

So diverse are the trim levels available in a modern pickup truck, it wouldn’t be shocking to see automakers begin offering a “Scotsman” edition, complete with three-on-the-tree shifter, for buyers accustomed to eating beans out of a can. On the other end of the ladder, surely “Limited,” “Platinum,” and “Tungsten” fall short in the luxury trappings offered within their leather-trimmed cabins. Buyers clearly need a wood-panelled humidor for their stogies.

Suffice it to say that automakers are making the purchase of a pickup truck more appealing than ever, and in October, buyers did their duty. October 2017 was a boffo month for light truck sales, with every full-size truck line recording rising year-over-year sales in the United States. Unfortunately, but not all that unfortunately (according to accountants, anyway), buyers offered a raised middle finger to mid-size pickups sold by those same automakers.

Read more
GM, Ford Cooperating As Federal Investigators Look Into Possible UAW Corruption

A federal investigation that started with corruption charges against a former Fiat Chrysler labor executive and the wife of a deceased United Auto Workers vice president has expanded to include training centers created by both General Motors and Ford. Investigators issued subpoenas in recent weeks to amass information on the centers, which are jointly operated between the automakers and the UAW.

In the FCA case, company and union officials are alleged to have misappropriated an estimated $4.5 million earmarked for employee training. That money is believed to have gone into personal accounts and used to buy suspiciously extravagant items. The FBI appears to be concerned that similar activities could be happening at Ford and GM-backed training sites.

Read more
Ford to Wall Street: Drop Dead

At a Detroit Economic Club event held last night in the Motor City, Blue Oval Chairman Bill Ford opined that Ford Motor Co. may have been too forthcoming with Wall Street in past years.

“In the past, maybe we said too much,” Ford said Tuesday.

Read more
Detroit's October 2017 Sales: Ford Soars, Fiat Chrysler Hits the Brakes

If the Detroit Three want to keep wind in their [s]sales[/s] sails, it sure won’t happen on the strength of traditional passenger cars.

Several brands from Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted U.S. sales declines in October 2017, all thanks to the slipping popularity of regular cars. In many cases, the continued strength of the crossover/SUV/truck market wasn’t enough to tip the scales back in the automakers’ favor.

Read more
The New Thriftpower? EPA Says Less-thirsty 2018 Ford Expedition Tops Its Class

There’s nothing quite as uncertain as that little number staring at you from the window sticker of a new vehicle. It’s two digits long (unless you’re fabulously rich), followed by the word “combined.” We’re talking, of course, about the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy rating, which often turns out to be an impossible-to-reach goal or — if you’re lucky — a lowballed figure.

Back in the days of lapels and flares, the hot gas mileage action was found in the compact and subcompact class. Economy cars, after all. Well, people these days prefer driving a vehicle that seats at least five adults in comfort while towing a boat and hauling 65 pounds of kid’s toys and a dog in the rear cargo area. With the heyday of the cheap little car long gone, the (fuel) economy battle rages anew among the largest, and most lucrative, vehicles on the road.

So, do you believe the EPA when it says the massive 2018 Ford Expedition gets 20 miles per gallon combined?

Read more
Vitality and Action: The 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Is an XL Car for an XL Lifestyle

If it’s not already abundantly clear through snarky asides hidden deep within news stories and reviews, automotive journalists despise PR-speak. We loathe the adjectives and nouns chosen by committee to best express the attributes not only of the car, but of the company and those running it. We’d sooner drink glue than hear the words “synergy,” “synergistic,” or “dynamic” ever again. “Dynamism,” too.

We get it, your new electric self-driving pod is dynamically synergistic. Or something. Please stop talking and hand over the keys, if indeed there are any.

Still, that doesn’t stop any of us from sitting back and delighting in the PR-speak emanating from the car commercials of yesteryear. It’s a guilty pleasure (for some, anyway), a time capsule to a long-ago age when, just maybe, things were better, more enjoyable, and more exciting. These Baby Boom or counterculture-era TV spots promise a limitless future of unending promise.

For many, the past is a patch of grass that never stops being the greenest in the land, if only because we’ve never (and will never) set foot there. Those of us who haven’t slipped over the brink of postmodernism are still able to enjoy these ads and the obsessed-over nouns and adjectives contained within, even in spite of the outdated social norms.

Are you ready to see what a Ford Galaxie 500 XL can do for a single man?

Read more
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Review - There's Something About a Pickup, Man

I groaned when I saw the Ford Raptor on my press car schedule.

That’s because trucks and the part of Chicago I live in don’t mix well, necessarily. Parking is a hassle, streets are crowded, and miles-per-gallon figures are comically abysmal in city traffic.

In the Raptor’s case, I worried I wouldn’t be able to use it the way Ford intended: Off-road.

That said, I do get the appeal of trucks. Whether it’s the image of toughness or the utility on offer, I understand why so many people snap up pickups from dealer lots, especially when gas prices drop, even if most truck owners never use them for their intended purpose.

And after I put it through its paces (and then some), I get the appeal of the Raptor.

Read more
NHTSA Probing Ford Fusion Steering Wheel Detachments

Perhaps more than any other vehicle component, a steering wheel must function properly for the safe operation of a car or truck. Without it, you’re just along for the ride.

That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking three reports of steering wheels detaching from the column in late-model Ford Fusions so seriously. In one case, the wheel came off in the driver’s hands. The agency has now opened a preliminary investigation into three model years of the Fusion.

Read more
Rental Review: 2017 Chevrolet Suburban LT - It Definitely Ain't Broke

When people saw me in the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban last week, resplendent in black-on-black leather, they typically had one of a few reactions:

My God, why is that thing so big?”

“Why did you rent such a huge vehicle?”

“Roberto? Wait, you’re not my UberXL driver?”

In all three cases, they weren’t wrong to ask. When I stepped into the rental car garage at Miami International Airport this weekend, I was faced with three options.

  1. Dodge Journey
  2. Ford Expedition EL
  3. Chevrolet Suburban LT

Having just recently rented the Expedition in Raleigh, and not ever wanting to put myself through the joyless exercise of driving a Journey again, I opted for the mighty GM. It is, dare I say, an elegant vehicle, typically reserved for doing important things like shuttling the members of the President’s security detail around or picking up large groups of people from the airport (Hi, are you my UberXL? STILL NO). It’s also one of the most expensive vehicles you’ll ever find on rental row — a Suburban LT, optioned exactly like mine, starts at $56,575 at your neighborhood Bowtie dealer.

Read more
Mighty Truck Sales (and Cost Cutting) Fuel Ford's Q3 Income

Ford Motor Company’s eagerness to quench North America’s insatiable thirst for light-duty pickups and SUVs drove the company to earn $1.6 billion in the third-quarter of 2017, according to an earnings report from Ford.

Also helping boost the automaker’s bottom line were some tasty foreign tax credits and an accountant’s best friend: cost reductions.

Read more
Despite Technology Boost, Ford F-150's New Base Engine Still Guzzles More Gas Than the Upgrade

Think of the Ford F-150 pickup and one’s mind immediately turns to an excellent pair of EcoBoost V6 engines with 2.7 and 3.5 liters of displacement. And why wouldn’t you? Together, Ford’s twin-turbocharged V6 twins make up three-quarters of the model’s engine share. These beauties are the last word in full-size pickup torque, though the 2.7-liter is a wanderer that finds deserving homes in such models as the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Ford Fusion Sport.

For 2018, both EcoBoost engines see some refinements, but buyers of F-150 XL and XLT pickups won’t see either if they leave those option boxes unchecked. In a bid to increase fuel efficiency across the lineup, 2018 sees the introduction of a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 in low-rung trims, replacing the previous 3.5-liter unit.

There’s no shortage of technology at work with the new 3.3, but it can’t match the fuel economy of the closest available engine upgrade.

Read more
Getting a Little Too Dirty With the Ford Raptor

I knew I was borked the minute the truck started down the incline.

Even a Ford Raptor is no match for fresh, gray mud that looks like wet cement. Illinois mud may not be Alabama mud, but it’s no joke. And I had just attempted to drive a Raptor through just that sort of mud, mud that was puddled at the bottom of sharply angled incline that had a distance of a few feet from top to bottom.

The thing is, when one is about to hit a mud hole, the best thing to do, usually, is to give it as much throttle as you can to maintain momentum (but not so much as to fling yourself into a tree). However, I came in a little too hot, bounced, and lost momentum when I reacted to the bounce by not digging into the throttle.

And that, friends, is how you stick one of the world’s most off-road-ready production vehicles in the mud. Also, it’s a good way to expose yourself to social media ridicule, as smartphone-wielding park guests, already happy to see a Raptor on the trail, surround you. Apparently, the woods aren’t free from 4G LTE.

Read more
Department Heads Spin as Ford Swaps Management Roles

Ford is restructuring its upper management for the second time since former CEO Mark Fields took permanent leave of the company. Now in the top executive slot, Jim Hackett wants to continue tweaking staff in order to “improve efficiencies” and reshape the automaker in an image more appetizing to investors and potential buyers.

Hackett’s initial culling served to streamline the corporate hierarchy into something more manageable. The more recent shakeup, announced Tuesday, appears to be more of the same — leaving some with additional duties as Ford attempts to realign its global strategy.

Read more
Level Up: Ford Introduces Performance Pack Level 2 for 2018 Mustang

The Ford Mustang sports a snazzy new set of duds for 2018 but, with the GT350 largely unchanged for 2018 and the GT500 still just a rumor, Ford is looking to generate extra buzz in the high-performance end of the stable.

Fortunately, it seems the Blue Oval has a team of gearheads willing to burn the midnight octane in order to provide something new for Mustang customers who count themselves squarely amongst the go-fast set.

Read more
Police Officers Suing Ford Over Alleged Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Interceptor SUVs [UPDATED]

Two Austin-based police officers have filed lawsuits against Ford Motor Company after being incapacitated by carbon monoxide that leaked into the cabin of their Interceptor Utilities. Ford finds itself flooded with hundreds of complaints over unacceptable carbon monoxide levels in 2011-2017 Ford Explorers, receiving the most flack from police departments with problematic SUVs. Officers across America have complained of dizziness while driving, with some requiring hospitalization.

The issue had become so bad that Austin’s police department actually pulled about 400 Explorer-based squad cars from its motor pool. Scrambling for a solution, Ford has implemented a special task force to investigate the problem and develop a solution. The automaker also offered to fix 1.33 million Explorers to ensure there is no exhaust leak, but was quick to remind everyone this wasn’t a recall, as no U.S. government standard for in-vehicle carbon monoxide levels exists.

Read more
Ford's Reoccurring Door Latch Problem Results in Massive F-Series Recall

On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. recalled 1.3 million F-150 and Super Duty pickups to fix faulty side door latches. In the affected vehicles, a frozen door latch or a bent actuation cable could result in a door that neither opens or closes — nullifying the only thing it’s responsible for.

However, the real risk comes from faulty doors that appear to be functional but latch improperly when shut. Points of entry that may appear to have shut as intended could still have latches that don’t engage with the striker effectively, allowing for a seemingly closed door to swing open suddenly while a vehicle is in motion.

Read more
2017 Ford Edge Titanium Rental Review - Needs More Boost, Less Eco

If you’re new around here, you might not be aware that I’ve been accused of being a Blue Oval homer, or even being “bias.” (Bark’s tip of the day: “bias” is a noun, “biased” is an adjective.) I make no secret of the fact that the last four vehicles I’ve purchased have been straight from the Mind of Dearborn, but I don’t think that necessarily makes me FordPro Bark. In fact, some of my harshest rental reviews of days yonder have been directed toward Ford products.

But there can be no denying that I’m drawn toward Fords on rental row, simply because I have a large degree of familiarity with them. I don’t have to learn new infotainment systems or dash layouts, and everything from the steering wheel to the seats just feels right to me. As such, I found myself throwing my bags into the cargo area of a Ford Edge Titanium last week in Miami. The Edge is a resident of that strangest of vehicle segments, the large two-row CUV, living on the same street as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Murano. The Edge can’t have a third row of seating, because then it would be an Explorer, and it can’t be any smaller, because then it would be an Escape. So it just kinda…exists.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Read more
Rare Rides: The 1983 Ford EXP Handles All Your Malaise Driving Needs

Great handling, two seats, sporty styling, and coupe lines. No, we’re not talking about a Corvette Z06, because it’s another Malaise Day here at Rare Rides — and our topic of discussion is a shockingly orange Ford EXP.

I always thought those letters stood for EXtra Powerful, but maybe I was wrong. Let’s find out.

Read more
Rare Rides: The 1981 Ford Durango is Neither a Dodge nor an El Camino

Long before Dodge would apply the Durango name to its midsize SUV offering, Ford used it on a very limited production pickup as it considered a replacement for the Ranchero.

Come and check out a beige, two-tone, Ford [s]Fairmont Futura Hack-job[/s] Durango pickup.

Read more
Hide Your Stash (or Chill Your Beer) With This Handy Ford Patent

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
While Not Yet Official, Fuel Economy's on the Rise in the Ford Mustang Stable

Those Ford Mustang owners. Obsessed with just one thing — a feverish, burning desire to consume as little gasoline as possible.

No, that can’t be right. Mustang buyers know what they want when purchasing the original pony car, and it usually involves the velocity of wind through one’s hair. Ford Motor Company, however, doesn’t have the luxury of such simple-mindedness. For a number of reasons, the largest of them being regulatory, the automaker requires its newest vehicles to burn less fuel than the previous generation.

The 2018 Mustang is no different. For the coming model year, the massaged and freshened Mustang promises owners less time spent at the gas pump.

Read more
Ace of Base: 2018 Ford EcoSport S

Ford is a bit late to the micro SUV party, with trucklets like the Kia Soul and Chevrolet Trax hoovering up sales while the Blue Oval dawdles in getting its EcoSport to market. Finally, it appears for the 2018 model year.

By the way, even if there seems to be a couple of ways to pronounce the name of this little rig, Ford vigorously prefers we say “Echo-Sport” and not “Eek-Oh-Sport.” The company’s completely serious, despite beating us over the head for years with ads for the identically-prefixed “Eek-Oh-Boost” engines. Very good, then.

With the build-and-price tool for the EcoSport going live not long ago, let’s gander at the cheapest soft-roader in Ford’s showroom.

Read more
2017 Ford F-350 Platinum Review - True Truck Testing

After introducing the Super Duty in 1998, Ford kept making upgrades to the same basic cab and frame all the way up to 2016. Multiple refreshes across three generations could not hide the fact that this truck rode on old bones, making the 2017 model year redesign a welcome change.

We had a chance test out the new design by borrowing a 2017 F-350 Platinum for a recent trip to West Virginia, which appropriately featured a Miata on trailer behind us. While our race car and trailer combo only made up a fraction of the maximum towing capacity of the diesel-powered behemoth, it gave us an appreciation of having a little extra room while towing.

Our schedule said we had to be on track at Summit Point for a drivers meeting at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, so we tried to pack as much as possible before the Super Duty arrived in order to hit the road quickly. When the truck arrived on Friday afternoon we ran over to the U-Haul store to pick up a trailer. Hooking up was a breeze — even in the tight confines of the back lot — as the backup camera, along with the birds eye view, quickly got us lined up with the trailer and on our way to load the race car.

Read more
Confirmed? Ford to Bring Back the Color Green, Along With the Bullitt

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
Fourth-generation Ford Focus Goes Upmarket, Spawns an Active Variant Of Course

Rarely 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
Worried About Exhaust in Your Ford Explorer's Cabin? Ford Might Just Buy It Back

Well, it might if a news crew profiles your SUV. A Maryland couple’s 2016 Ford Explorer, one of many late-model Explorers suspected of emitting high levels of carbon monoxide into the cabin, turned out to be doing just that. However, even after the exhaust leak was confirmed — then fixed — by Ford, peace of mind did not return to Mark and Valentina Shedrick.

With an NBC news team sniffing around and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation ongoing, the automaker decided to buy back the vehicle. Other owners, including police departments, would likely prefer knowing their vehicle is safe.

Read more
Ford CEO Outlines New Vehicle Development Plan, Shifts Investments, Trims Fat (and Models)

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
September 2017 Was a Terrific Month For Pickup Truck Sales in America

September 2017 sales of pickup trucks rose to the highest level so far this year in the United States, jumping 12 percent to 257,864 units.

Prior to this point, truck sales had grown by less than 4 percent, year-over-year, averaging slightly more than 225,000 monthly units.

September’s big gain was fuelled almost entirely by improvements among the full-size pickup trucks that own 84 percent of America’s pickup truck market. And America’s full-size pickup truck gains were powered in large part by America’s best-selling line of vehicles: the Ford F-Series.

Read more
Detroit's Passenger Car Sales Are Falling Way Faster Than the Overall U.S. Auto Industry's

Across the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.

Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.

But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three.

Read more
Ford Puts Its Limited Trim on Duty - Super Duty, That Is

For years, Ford has wisely been pushing their trucks into the upper stratosphere of both price and luxurious content. Features once reserved for the finest Lincoln flagships now pop up in pickups with alarming regularity.

Hard working, heavy duty customers naturally want a piece of the action, too. That’s why Ford is applying the Limited trim to their Super Duty fleet for 2018.

Read more
Mournful Glances: Carryover 2018 Ford Fiesta Loses the $995 Three-cylinder EcoBoost Engine Option

At 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
Non-Detroit Three Automakers Already Sell More Cars in North America, and Soon They'll Make More

Detroit’s dominance in the domestic automotive sphere continues to erode. Whereas the manufacturing hub, home to Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, once churned out the bulk of vehicles built — and sold — in the United States, times have changed.

The former Big Three automakers no longer hold the majority market share in the U.S. (in 2016 it was 44.9 percent), necessitating a name demotion to “Detroit Three.” From Silicon Valley to the Midwest and South, a diverse group of automakers is busily assembling cars and SUVs for a population with very wide-ranging tastes. We’ve long since become used to the idea that many Hyundais now hail from Alabama, several Subarus come from Indiana, Honda models grow in Ohio, and BMWs arrive from South Carolina with a Southern drawl.

Now, one industry watcher claims the Detroit Three won’t even finish the year as the majority builder of North American-made vehicles.

Read more
Ford's CEO Might Execute Lower-margin Vehicles to Boost Profits

Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, has been milling around the company trying to get a sense of what the automaker needs to thrive in today’s car market. Conducting a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points, Hackett is setting himself up with a greater understanding of where Ford stands in order to share his vision of the automaker’s future with investors in early October.

However, we already have some sense of what that future entails. Hackett has already spoken with leadership from the United Auto Workers, easing union fears that he might try to clean house and cut jobs. But his reassurance that there probably won’t be massive layoffs under his leadership doesn’t guarantee low-margin automobiles won’t be at risk.

This isn’t entirely down to Hackett’s management style, either. Investors were becoming annoyed with former CEO Mark Fields’ lofty long-term strategy, which featured fewer near-term goals aimed at bolstering profitability. Some analysts expect Hackett to end production of models that aren’t big earners — which includes just about everything that isn’t an SUV, crossover, or pickup truck.

Read more
Bark's Bites: America Can't Be Great Again Without the Fiesta ST

The Fiesta ST was the greatest car to ever be sold in the United States of America. So, naturally, Ford has decided to stop selling it here.

Boom. How’s that for an opener, y’all? I mean, I can just picture the keyboard warriors reading those sentences and fumbling their bag of Cheetos while running to Reddit to say that ol’ Bark is off his rocker again.

“He should be fired — not just from TTAC, but from the entire internet! Has he forgotten about the 1994 Camry, for Hillary’s sake?”

As Aaron Rodgers would say, “R-E-L-A-X.” I’m going to take a moment to explain to you why the greatest mistake I ever made was returning my 2015 Fiesta ST at the end of my lease.

Read more
Ford Transit Production Stalled for One Week, F-150 Assembly Remains at Full Throttle [UPDATED]

Ford Motor Company will be idling Transit production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant for seven days next week to account for waning sales (Update: Ford says its because of a recall. See the end of this post for details). Diminished deliveries aside, Ford’s Transit remains the preferred choice among van connoisseurs and was America’s best-selling large van in 2016. But not every year can be better than the last.

U.S. Transit sales dropped roughly 15 percent in August and stands at 80,292 units through the first eight months of the year —representing nearly a 22-percent loss against last year’s volume. Meanwhile, Canadian deliveries have been exceptional. But that’s not enough to compensate for the U.S. slump.

Read more
Put Those Next-Gen Ford Fiesta ST Dreams to Bed, America - It's Not Happening

Over 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
The 2018 Ford EcoSport Starts at $20,990, But How Much Could You Spend on a Loaded EcoSport?

For 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
Talking With Lights: Ford Disguises Driver As a Seat to Scrutinize a Confused Public

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
The Ford Ranger Raptor Lives, Packs Vastly Upgraded Suspension

Not quite a month ago, we brought you spy photos of a heavily camouflaged, clearly brawnier variant of Ford’s overseas Ranger. So angry was an Australian engineer along for the ride that he challenged the photographer to a fight.

Now, thanks to Ford’s Australian and South African divisions, we can see what the engineer (and some suspect underbody netting) was attempting to hide: a Ford Ranger Raptor.

You’ll recall that Ford plans to bring the Ranger to American buyers — and production to Michigan — for the 2019 model year. It now looks like the off-road-ready Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro will soon have a Blue Oval rival, as overseas customers receive the Ranger Raptor for the 2018 model year.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford Pinto

Ford sold more than three million Pintos during the 1971-1980 period, though most of those were 1974 and earlier models. By 1977, Corollas and Civics and Rabbits had taken a big bite out of Pinto sales, so these later cars are even more uncommon in junkyards than their older brethren. Not that Pintos are easy to find in your local U-Wrench-It yard; most of these cars were crushed long before the end of the 1990s.

Here’s a ’77 I spotted a few days ago in a Denver self-service yard.

Read more
Despite Sharp Midsize Truck Decline, U.S. Pickup Truck Sales Rose 4 Percent in August 2017

Noteworthy year-over-year sales declines were reported in August 2017 by the three lowest-volume members of America’s five-strong midsize pickup truck category. As a result, U.S. sales of midsize pickups tumbled 8 percent last month, driving their share of the overall pickup truck category down from 18 percent in August 2016 to 16 percent in August 2017.

The Honda Ridgeline, America’s lowest-volume pickup truck in each of the last two months, reported a 24-percent drop to 2,610 units. For the 2018 model year, Honda will make the all-wheel-drive Ridgeline distinctly less affordable. The GMC Canyon, which persistently and predictably generates far less showroom traffic than its Chevrolet Colorado twin, tumbled by a fifth to 2,698 sales. And the Nissan Frontier, which last year reported its best calendar year results in 15 years, continued its 2017 tumble with a 51-percent plunge to only 4,637 units, its lowest-volume month since January.

But those are low-volume midsize trucks, scarcely relevant in the overall pickup truck scheme. Total pickup truck volume rose 4 percent in August because full-size trucks jumped 6 percent, thanks mainly to the best-selling vehicle line in America: Ford’s F-Series.

Read more
Push My Buttons: Ford Files Patent Application for 'Proximity Shifting'

The traditional console-mounted transmission shifter is disappearing, being replaced by buttons or rotary knobs in many models as shift-by-wire becomes the industry standard. The 2018 GMC Terrain recently debuted — and received criticism for — pushbuttons mounted low in the center stack in order to control the transmission.

Ford is no stranger to these configurations. The Blue Oval uses buttons mounted on the left side of the center stack in the Lincoln MKZ and a console-mounted rotary knob in the Ford Fusion. Now, Ford has an idea for an even more complex shifting system — and this one comes with a bit of retro flair.

Read more
Ford's Autonomous Driving Effort Doesn't End at Pizza Delivery

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
QOTD: Is the Column Shifter the Best Shifter Design There Ever Was or Ever Will Be?

Setting aside the glorious wonders of the manual, DIY shifter, is it not becoming increasingly clear that the automatic transmission shifter reached its zenith with the traditional column shifter?

One thing is certain: the column shifter is quickly fading away. The electronic controls behind many shifters are more often linked to unnecessarily complicated shifters than a simple, intuitive, steering column-mounted unit. There are pushbutton affairs on the center stack in Lincolns, rising and falling console-mounted pushbutton arrangements in Hondas and Acuras, rotary dials in everything from the Ford Fusion and Ram 1500 to the Jaguar XJ, monostable shifters with no detents in vehicles of every sort, and a horizontally opposed array of buttons and switches in a GMC Terrain that GMC felt necessary to explain for three hours.

We’re not sure these alternative shifters have shoved society along the path toward enlightenment.

But when Ford’s North American product communications manager, Mike Levine, tweeted a picture of a 2018 Ford F-150 with a 10-speed automatic and a column shifter — merging the past and future — we naturally wondered whether column shifters deserve more involvement in the present.

Read more
America's Best-Selling Vehicles in 2016, State by State - What Are Your Neighbors Buying?

The Toyota Camry, America’s best-selling passenger car in 2016 for a 15th consecutive year, was not the best-selling overall vehicle in any one state last year.

According to registration figures tabulated by Kelley Blue Book and highlighted by USA Today, the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla were the only cars to claim any state-wide auto sales victories.

In 15 other states, utility vehicles of one variety or another (Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback, and Toyota RAV4) were tops in overall vehicle sales. Hawaii’s sales crown stayed in the hands of the Toyota Tacoma. GM’s full-size truck twins ruled the roost in eight states, largely east of the Mississippi.

That leaves the Ford F-Series’ F-150 variant, the top-selling vehicle in America, to take top honors in 22 states, including its biggest market of Texas.

Read more
Ford Motor Company's Antonella Wants a Nicer Fiesta Now, but There's No Antonellas in America

Remember 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
Dumb Ideas: Domino's and Ford to Test 'Autonomous Pizza Delivery'

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
  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.