An all-new Ford Bronco is going to make its way back to dealerships sometime next year, and the speculation and hype around the next-generation off-roader is nearing feverish levels. Michigan Assembly builds the Ranger. It will also build the Bronco. But that’s not the only pickup truck that will be coming from there.
Automobile is reporting that a Bronco pickup truck is to start production in July of 2024 and will compete directly with Jeep’s Gladiator. The company making the prediction, AutoForecast Solutions, said that design and engineering for the truck began shortly after the launch of the Gladiator.
Why 2024? According to another source, the Focus-based Ford Courier is on the way in 2021. The next-generation Ranger set to go on sale during that time. Ford also plans to launch a Ranger Raptor on the new platform.
Developing electric cars for scale in Europe takes time, money, resources and commitment. Volkswagen has the new, advanced MEB architecture designed just for that purpose. There are other automakers, though, who need to have an option. For Ford, that answer was simple. They already are working with VW on several projects, so it makes sense to expand that relationship into platform sharing.
In an announcement that also included VW’s investment into Argo AI, Volkswagen committed to providing 600,000 MEB units to Ford for a new electric vehicle that’ll be manufactured and sold within Europe. That includes all of the electric components, according to Dr. Herbert Diess, VW’s CEO. Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett said that it would be “built Ford proud.”
Making a mistake while trying to remedy an earlier one is a routine part of the human condition. We’re imperfect creatures and sometimes the easiest solution after a string of foulups is to just sweep something under the rug and hope nobody ever bothers to look there — even though they probably will. Incredibly, this logic can spread to an entire organization and with roughly the same effectiveness.
Earlier this week, Ford issued a safety recall on select Focuses manufactured within the last decade (1.5 million were recalled previously). But not before becoming the subject of a scathing report from the Detroit Free Press claiming the automaker knew the cars had bunk transmissions and did everything in its power to keep that under wraps in order to continue selling them.
When the updated Ford Transit Connect debuted, Ford showed off a fancy new 1.5-liter turbodiesel to power it. While the company said it would be late availability, it turns out that the company decided that it wouldn’t put it into production at all.
Car and Driver initially reported the decision, with a Ford spokesperson citing a lack of demand for the reason for putting it into production. Considering the premium price that the diesel engine would command, plus rising fuel prices, it’s not hard to see why buyers wouldn’t ultimately be interested in the engine.
Probe is a significant name in the history of Rare Rides, as the series started off in early 2017 with the Ghia-designed Probe I. That design study was the kickoff of a series of Probe concepts from Ford; a series which ultimately resulted in an aerodynamic liftback that entered production in the late Eighties.
Let’s see a clean, original example of the all-but-vanished first-gen Probe.
The realities of modern racing series are dominated by homologation rules and the balancing of performance between makes and models. As such, the racecar’s engines are sometimes detuned when compared the road-going car upon which they’re based.
In celebration of their 1966 Ferrari-beating LeMans win, Ford Performance wanted to offer its customers a de-restricted track-day version of the GT, which they’re calling the Mk II. With Multimatic, the designers of the Ford GT racecar and manufacturer of all Ford GTs, they threw the rule books out the window and set out to build the ultimate GT track car.
For four generations, Ford offered the Explorer with rear-wheel drive as standard. It went front-drive for the fifth.
Now, the standard drivetrain is rear-drive again. Back to basics, so to speak.
Except, not really. First-gen Explorers didn’t have infotainment systems, or 10-speed automatic transmissions, or available hybrid powertrains. Those staples of modernity have been added over the years.
Whether it was out of nostalgia or an attempt to capitalize on the resurgence of dinosaur-themed tent-pole cinema, or simply an attempt to make us overfed journos get a quick guffaw, Ford PR trotted out an early ‘90s example, complete with Jurassic Park livery, for us to gawk at (rumor has it we may be able to get behind the wheel someday. Fingers crossed). I opened the door and was greeted with what was the new-car smell of my youth. This Explorer needed no 10-speed, no Sync, no hybrid, to charm. Could the 2020 version do the same as it returned to a rear-drive base?
$73,995 will be the cost of entry for the fastest production Mustang ever made, including destination and the gas-guzzler tax. Fully-optioned, the Shelby GT500 can top $100,000, which also makes it the most expensive production Mustang ever made.
The Mustang6G Forum first published leaked pricing and an order guide for the 2020 Shelby GT500, while Motor Authority has verified the information with Ford. At its base price, the 760-horsepower Shelby GT500 costs comparatively more than either the 797-hp Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye ($73,440) or the 650-hp Camaro ZL1 ($64,695) — though we don’t yet know exactly how the performance will stack up.
The GT500 will likely make up for the power deficit to the Redeye via better handling, even in widebody form ($79,440). Comparing to the Camaro ZL1 with the track-focused 1LE package ($72,195), the Shelby has 110 hp in hand over its historic rival. Even if it takes the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack and $1,500 Handling Package to do it, this author is expecting the GT500 will set the new benchmark for outright pony car track performance.
The new Tremor off-road package will bring a new 7.3-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic transmission to the heavy-duty F-250 and F-350 lineups. The 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel V8 will also be available, paired with its 6-speed automatic.
Ford’s Tremor package is a shot across the bow of the RAM Power Wagon. The 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires are the largest diameter rubber available on any HD pickup and a 2-inch lift of the front suspension and shorter air dam enable real off-road prowess for the Super Duty trucks.
Ford has executed an on-then-off strategy with regard to its Fiesta offering in the North American market. Currently in off mode, your local Ford dealer encourages you to look at the sporty and capable [s]first-ever third-world offering[/s] EcoSport instead.
But today we’re stepping back in time to 1978 to take a look at the genesis of Fiesta. The Fiestasis, if you will.
In September of last year, the Michigan State Police conducted their 2019 Model Year Police Vehicle Evaluations. The purpose of these tests is to provide objective performance data to the individual agencies who are making purchasing decisions for their divisions.
For the automakers, it’s an all-out race for pride in being the superior bad-guy chaser. Ford hands off the title from their own 2018 3.5-liter EcoBoost Police Interceptor AWD (Taurus) sedan to their 2019 Police Interceptor Utility 3.0L EcoBoost AWD Explorer SUV.
Buy/Drive/Burn returns this week with three American sports cars in their most basic, purest form. The Big Three are represented here, and they don’t get any cheaper than this. No options or fripperies are allowed, and one must receive the Buy.
Start your (small) engines — it’s sports car time.
Somehow, while I wasn’t looking, the box office has become dominated by movies featuring superheroes. Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and the like have used various superpowers to make tons of cash for stale popcorn purveyors worldwide. Avengers: Endgame is raking it in as I type.
I won’t pretend to drop any movie references here – I’ve never really been into the genre. Nothing against the various costumed fantasy characters and those who love them, but my heroes typically wear Nomex. Jerry Titus, Dan Gurney, Ronnie Bucknum, and Parnelli Jones are some of the legendary drivers who drove heroic machines to glory.
The machine is important in this movie, too. Loud, brash, and most importantly fast, a noble steed for motorsports triumph is critical. Ford has drawn upon an incredible back catalog to refine the Mustang into this, the spectacular 2019 Shelby GT350. Built for track duties, but with enough refinement to make it livable on the street, the GT350 is the All-American Superhero. Captain Blue Oval, perhaps.
And the only spoiler alert I need here comes with a Gurney flap.
You know you’re getting old when you start using phrases like “back in my day” on the regular. Indeed, as I’m rounding my fortieth lap of the sun, I find myself reminiscing entirely too much. And, considering this tidy second career I’ve picked out, it’s not surprising that my daydreams revert all too often to vehicles of my youth.
Back in my day (there it is) compact pickup trucks were everywhere. Every mainstream automaker had one – occasionally, it was a rebadged import, but it was an important segment in which to compete. The Ranger was just another player in a crowded marketplace.
These days, the compact pickup doesn’t exist in North America. The midsize truck is the new hotness, but even this segment is relatively immature. Ford looked at its overseas portfolio and saw a model that could readily be adapted – thus, the 2019 Ford Ranger seen here. Is the Ranger competitive with the stalwarts, or is it a matter of too midsize, too late?
My first installment centered around the neglected, beancounted “heart and soul of an American hero,” with a sense of pride in bespoke platforms and powertrains. But the re-killing of the Ford Taurus lacks nationalistic sorrow: the hometown hero was a name looking for a globally-engineered sedan, in a declining market, foolishly butted up against another Ford sedan with cooler stuff (a la hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and a SHO-worthy Sport with 325 turbocharged horses).
Ouch. RIP Ford Taurus.
After the first-generation Mustang went from frisky lightweight to bloated monstrosity, Ford transferred the name over to an economy car based on the Pinto. This proved to be a wise move, in light of certain geopolitical events that took place right around the time the first Mustang IIs began rolling into showrooms, but most of the old Mustang magic was lost during the Pinto-ization process.
Ford created a bunch of flashy trim packages for the car, and I spotted one of the more unusual ones in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks back: the Stallion.
Ford unveiled the all-new 2020 Escape in dramatic fashion by turning the fabulous Henry Ford Museum’s Greenfield Village into “Escapeville.” The automaker seated members of the media on bleachers, but in a moment of trickery, it turned out said bleachers were mobile (insert Jim Hackett “mobility” joke here), and as they moved rearward, the Escape moved out from under sheets (Ed. note — This sentence has been changed to provide clarification. The original wording incorrectly implied that the Escape drove out from under the bleachers). Quite the effort, but it shows how important the Escape is, especially to Ford’s sedan-free future.
Initial press reaction to the Escape’s frontal appearance was, “huh … unexpectedly nice.” Following the moving bleacher introduction was a trip down a fictitious “Main St., USA,” with groups of actors playing out scenes of 2019 Americana, doing things that Americans do. Playing basketball. Unloading suitcases. Dancing, singing, and playing instruments. A man in camo returning home from war, presumably, with a dog that was being fed many treats to comply with his military master’s directions.
As we passed over an intersection, the first car left and three more entered our field of view. The whole town joined in celebration around the new Escapes as the music ended.
As we sat in the middle of a transformed Greenfield Village, I couldn’t help but wonder … is Ford trying to convey that the new Escape might be to today’s market what the Model T was to America a century ago?
Welcome to the least hip car segment – the minivan. It’s what our parents drove, right? Nobody wants to be as tragically uncool as their parents, even as they themselves become parents.
Might I, an experienced parent, suggest something to the millennials and hipsters who are starting to reproduce? Consider getting back to the minivan genre before it becomes cool again. Be the parent who values utility and comfort over the overstyled, overstuffed crossover that every other new parent rushes out to buy. The moment you ease a rear sliding door open with one hand while swinging the bucket-style baby carrier right into the seat with the other is a revelation, especially after dealing with narrow-opening traditional doors found on sedans and SUVs.
In other words, it’s van time. Be the envy of the other new parents. Be different. And take a good look at all your options, because beyond the usual suspects lies this 2019 Ford Transit Connect Wagon. It has some surprising features that make it stand out.
Once upon a time in the early 2000s, a special convergence of factors created three very special cars. The most important element in the cars’ creation was the motoring public’s desire for things that appeared “retro” in the early part of the millennium. This retro desire occurred around the same time as some meetings in Michigan, where executives at the Big Three surely conducted consumer clinics with retired old men.
Remember, you can only burn one of these.
I hinted at today’s QOTD last week, when the original post for this line of questioning got the ball rolling. Last time we asked which non-luxury vehicles of 2019 were the most overpriced. The subsequent comments reflected a wide variety of nuanced opinions, ranging from “Everything over $25,000 is overpriced” to “Cars should come used from the factory.” Just kidding (maybe).
Today we step back over a decade and talk about everyone’s favorite rounded and cheap plastic era: the 2000s.
Part of the appeal of pickup trucks is that they can be many things to many people.
Tow machine to haul your boat? Check. Home-improvement aid? Sure, throw those 2x4s in the back. Guarantee that your friends will call you when they need help moving, even if they never call you any other time? Sure. Cowboy Cadillac? If you like cruising the streets of Texas in comfort, pardner.
Ford’s F-150 is already at least perceived as doing all those things well – Ford doesn’t sell approximately a zillionity billion for no reason – and adding a diesel powertrain to the mix doesn’t hurt.
On Monday, Matthew Guy asked all of you to nominate vehicles that were ahead of their time. Those rare occasions where vehicles anticipated the desires of consumers, even before said desires were fully formed. Today, we flip it around and talk about [s]Hall and Oates lyrics[/s] vehicles which were out of touch or behind the times, even when new.
Stop the presses. Ford’s Fusion sedan, a member of the passenger car crowd Ford sentenced to death last year, will at least outlive its non-Mustang stablemates.
While American-market Focus and C-Max production has already dried up, followed soon by the Taurus and Fiesta, Ford was never clear on when exactly the Fusion midsizer would bite the dust. The exact date of its impending death remains a mystery, but there’s now assurances from Ford that Fusions will continue rolling into dealers until at least the 2020 model year.
As it prepares to launch a battery electric crossover, likely named Mach E, in 2020, Ford’s product boss told Blue Oval fans — and nervous investors — that the company isn’t in the habit of losing money with its products. As such, the upcoming Mustang-inspired crossover, like Ford’s other planned EVs, won’t be Fiat 500e-like money drain.
That’s one of the company’s promises, and here’s another: an electric F-150 and Transit.
Count me among the dismayed that Ford’s new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
I speculated that Ford made that choice because no human can shift gears faster than the DCT, and because Ford maybe couldn’t find a manual that can handle the estimated torque of the GT500, which is sure to be a high number.
Turns out, I was right.
Months of speculation and rumors came to an end in Detroit Tuesday, as auto giants Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group officially announced they will take their relationship to the next level.
After signing a Memorandum of Understanding last year, initially to explore joint commercial vehicle production, the two automakers now say their pact will birth a midsize pickup truck for global markets. Volkswagen Ranger, anyone?
The #savethemanuals crowd may weep, but the Ford fanboys will still rejoice. The 2020 Ford Mustang GT500 is here. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it looks cool, and it has no clutch pedal.
That’s right. The more than 700 horsepower expected from the 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 will funnel through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission from Tremec. Drivers will take back manual control via paddles.
At the North American International Auto Show Monday, Ford today revealed a pair of extensions to the venerable Explorer line, bolstering the standard trim revealed last week. As expected, the new midsize SUV will be offered in a hybrid version, as well as a high-performance ST flavor.
Over the decades since the 1960s, the Detroit car companies have tried their best to make dollars selling their Euro-market cars in North America, with varying degrees of success. Ford did tolerably well with the Capri and Fiesta over here, then raked in little American-market income with the Merkur XR4Ti and got bombed, Dresden-style, with Merkur Scorpio sales.
Dearborn optimism climbed to new heights for a high-performance version of the Americanized Mondeo, the Contour SVT, prior to its 1998-model-year debut. Here’s a fiery red ’99 in a Denver wrecking yard.
Ford’s 2018 introduction of the EcoSport is one of the most cynical attempts to quickly capture sales in a suddenly hot category in the long history of automakers trying to do just that..
Challenged to quickly find a way into the fast-growing subcompact crossover class, Ford simply moved the EcoSport – already available in other markets – to the North American market. While that move looks logical on paper, it ignores the reality that the product just isn’t very good.
Wednesday night, Ford pulled the wraps off its all-new 2020 Explorer at an event held, quite appropriately, at Detroit’s Ford Field. The model is a complete redesign of America’s all-time best-selling SUV.
Since the introduction of the original, Ranger-based Explorer, over eight million units have found American homes. With that heritage in mind, the 2020 Explorer adopts a rear-wheel drive platform for the first time in a decade, with more attention paid to power, space, and capability. At the same time, Ford added new technology to assist owners who’ve managed to escape the daily grind.
Ford and Volkswagen, two auto giants who spent much of 2018 making eyes at each other and playfully batting away rumors (and sparking a few of their own), might lay their relationship bare in Detroit next week.
The two automakers have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding, partnering initially with the aim of developing joint light commercial vehicles. But that was just the start. Over the course of the past year, this partnership grew to include pickup swaps, electric vehicle platform sharing, joint U.S. plants, and God knows what else — at least according to rumors. Both companies made it clear something big was brewing, but always fell back to a “we’re just talking” line.
Now, it looks like we have a time and place for the announcement.
You hear it time and time again on the internet. “There are no bad cars today.” It’s proclaimed by those who lived through the Malaise Era and have personally experienced the build quality and reliability of an new Renault Le Car or Chevy Monza. And while things are most definitely better than they were, nothing’s perfect. Bring out your critical fingertips.
Once the Fiesta drains from North American Ford lots following its May 2019 discontinuation, it’s up to the company’s subcompact EcoSport crossover to draw entry-level buyers into the Blue Oval fold.
Imported from India, the second-generation EcoSport, which first arrived on these shores at the dawn of 2018, kicked off for the 2013 model year overseas, making the EcoSport anything but all-new. Luckily, there’s a replacement in the works.
A group of Ford owners hoping to cash in on bad nuts did not get their day in court. Instead, their proposed class-action lawsuit was tossed out.
We told you about the 120-count complaint against Ford back in 2017, when the well-known firm Hagens Berman — a veteran of auto litigation — announced the lawsuit. Owners complained about swollen, delaminating lug nuts, stating that this led to out-of-pocket costs, safety concerns, and a reduction in their vehicle’s value. After looking at the case, the judge saw no reason to proceed.
If you’re holding off on purchasing a new Ford Ranger based on what you read here last Thursday, consider this a green light for your trip to the dealership. The new-for-2019 Ranger does not — repeat, does not — require the removal of the left front wheel in order to access the oil filter.
After rocking the same design with only minor alterations since 2011, Ford will soon debut an all-new Explorer. Arriving this year as a 2020 model, the model adopts the modular CD6 platform shared with Lincoln’s Aviator, making the new version of the venerable SUV rear-drive biased once again. New powerplants are also on the way.
Before we lay eyes on the new ute, however, Ford wants to show us, once again, the Explorer’s law enforcement brother: the Police Interceptor Utility, which the company first revealed under the cloak of darkness last June. We now have light. A wildly common sight on North American roads, the new version of the copped-up Explorer is all about nabbing bad guys … and saving departments money. The vehicle you see here arrives with a standard hybrid drivetrain.
Ever swapped out the battery in a cloud-car Chrysler, or maybe an old Sebring or PT Cruiser? You’ll be reminded of that when the time comes to change your new-generation Ford Ranger’s oil, assuming you’re a proud member of the DIY crowd.
Job One for those looking to freshen the Ranger’s internal lubricant, besides heading to the store for a couple of jugs of synthetic and a filter, is to break out the jack. You’ll need to remove a wheel.
(Editor’s Note: Ford has reached out to us to inform us that the service procedure we referenced below is incorrect, and that the wheel does not need to be removed. We regret the error, and we have further addressed it here.)
Are there fits of childlike, fists-clenched glee occurring in the Glass House right now? Quite possibly, and not just because someone brought a scooter into the building.
Don’t say we didn’t predict it. Ford, following in the footsteps of rival General Motors, says it plans to switch to quarterly sales reporting in 2019. While this move would even out the monthly spikes and troughs caused by fleet timing, it ends up meaning less data available to journos and the public.
While I had hoped to do this a bit sooner, other work got in the way. So Steph and I decided it would be a good way to close out the year.
Harnessing the magic of electricity to keep your engine block toasty is a better option than crossing your fingers and saying a silent prayer before turning the key (or pressing the button) on cold mornings. Unfortunately for Ford F-150 owners living in northern climes, the block heater residing beneath their truck’s hood might pose a danger to their vehicle — and perhaps their house.
Hoping to remedy a fire risk, Ford Motor Company has issued a recall on roughly 874,000 late-model F-150s in North America.
Relaunching the Bronco is a no-brainer for North America. With credits like Longmire and the O.J. Simpson police chase under its belt, there is just too much buzz around the model not to bring it back. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t have the same rich history with the vehicle — leaving them in the lurch.
The 2020 Ford Bronco will be left-hand drive only, not a global sensation, according to Ford Australia.
With all the light-truck product buzz surrounding Ford, one thing that’s gone relatively unmentioned is the impending debut of a new F-150. Yes, the world’s best-selling vehicle since the dawn of time, or at least it seems that way.
The 2019 Ranger midsize pickup garnered plenty of page space this week, and oceans of digital ink keep the upcoming Bronco afloat in speculative press, but it’s looking like we’ll see a new F-150 before any of us get a chance to lay a finger on Ford’s retro off-roader.
If you’ve paid attention to any of Ford’s marketing lately, you’ll know the company has been making vehicles for 115 years. When it comes to F-Series, the best-selling pickup truck line in the country, they’ve been ahead of the pack for 41 years. It should shock nobody that the company knows how to build a pickup truck.
There’s more to the success of the 2019 Ford Ranger than just whether or not the company can build a good pickup truck. The Ranger is a good truck. But will it be able to draw new customers to the growing midsize truck segment, and will it be able to attract people from Colorado and Tacoma?
Plenty of digital ink and hurt fingers and bums occurred over the past few days, after Lincoln announced its limited run of Coach Door Edition Continentals (don’t call the doors by their common lexicon name).
But I’m here today to ask you whether any of it matters.
The decision to ditch all passenger cars save for the Mustang didn’t lead to immediate pain among Ford’s American workforce, but it soon will. As the automaker’s restructuring plan has only just begun, Ford found itself spared from the kind of vitriol flung at rival General Motors, which recently outlined a workforce reduction of up to 15,000 employees.
But pain is coming — to Ford’s Van Dyke transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Unlike the Midwestern workforce switcheroo that followed shift cuts at two plants last month, it doesn’t look like every worker will find a new home this time.
We’ve heard rumblings about Ford’s plan to bestow a small, unibody pickup on North American customers before, but now there’s photographic evidence.
Images published by Ford Authority show what appears to be a van tooling around the automaker’s Dearborn campus, but is actually a compact pickup wearing an entire tent of camouflage. A telltale trademark filing and reports over the summer are now starting to bear fruit.
Russia, a large country covered mostly in taiga forest and tundra, still loves the Lada 4×4 (née Niva) four decades after its launch, but Ford’s EcoSport isn’t getting the same kind of affection four years after its launch.
Ford’s EcoSport, which burst onto the North American subcompact crossover scene at the beginning of the year, began production at a joint facility in Russia in 2014 but, as that country’s car buying climbs in the wake of a recession, buyers aren’t springing for the EcoSport like they once were. Ford’s throttling back production while claiming regular downtime. Critics blame the model’s price, as well as its diminutive size.
Surely no such critics exist on this side of the Atlantic.
Matthew Guy’s going to be mighty disappointed if this is all the big Ford truck news we receive this week. On the same week Ford rolled out its first drive event for the upcoming Ranger pickup, the Blue Oval revealed official fuel economy numbers for the four-cylinder-only midsizer — though specs already leaked last month.
Yes, it’s true. As you might have anticipated, the 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-banger and 10-speed automatic combo beneath the Ranger’s hood returns class-leading combined fuel economy. For a gasoline engine, that is.
Ford announced some HR news today, saying that Trevor Worthington has been appointed vice president, Global Product Development Operations & Vehicle Programs. Worthington has served as veep of Product Development for Asia Pacific since 2013. You may recognize that part of the Ford empire as the area which just got the Ranger Raptor.
Also today, Ford product guru and prolific tweeter Mike Levine promised “Some cool Ford Truck news coming later this week.”
Coincidence? We think not!
Ford Europe announced it had shuffled its leadership on Friday as part of a larger restructuring plan, appointing executives in Germany and the United Kingdom to oversee “ Sprint to 6 Reset and Redesign.” The strategy seeks to achieve a 6 percent EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margin, investing only in products and services that it believes best support long-term, sustainably and profitable business.
“Ford is implementing key leadership and organizational changes to improve the fitness and agility of its European operations as it undergoes a fundamental reset and redesign of its business,” the company said in an announcement that emphasized creating operational agility.
While the full scope of the plan has yet to be announced, layoffs and factory closings seem highly probable. Ford said announcements concerning the details of the restructuring are expected between now and the beginning of 2020. Europe is expected to be the primary focus during the initial months, however. Ford Europe lost nearly $250 million in the third quarter of 2018, significantly worse than it managed in 2017. The company now expects to see a net loss for the region this year.