Ford Motor Co. is recalling over 660,000 2016-2019 model year Explorer sport utility vehicles over the suspect roof rails the company initially claimed were probably fine. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got involved last year, following a string of complaints of the rail cover loosening and sometimes being jettisoned from the vehicle, and recommended the automaker bring them in for repairs.
But Blue Oval felt that was unnecessary, claiming the odds of one decoupling were extremely low and likely to be battened down before anything happens. Besides, they’re just fiddly little pieces of trim and unlikely to do much damage. Obviously, opinions have changed since then with documentation from the NHTSA confirming Ford is moving ahead with the mostly voluntary recall.
Ford has released the new Police Responder version of its ever-popular F-150 pickup. Intended for government use and timed ahead of the spring bid, the automaker is clearly hoping it’s something law enforcement will be interested in since it should be an ideal pick for rural police departments, government agencies concerned with wildlife/nature, and border control operations.
The manufacturer already sells the F-150 SSV (special service vehicle), making the Police Responder sort of a deluxe version. It comes with upgraded skid plates, Goodyear Wrangler Enforcer all-terrain tires, an electronic rear differential (found in the FX4 Off-Road bundle), and a new torque-on-demand transfer case that automatically swaps between rear- and four-wheel drive depending upon terrain. It also comes standard with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6’s 400 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, 10-speed automatic, and a higher top speed, which Ford says makes the Responder pickup “pursuit rated.” But it’s a term we’ve grown skeptical of ever since the automaker applied it to the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan and F-Series Police Responder from the 2018 model year.
Another day, another automaker making promises about electric vehicles. Today’s company is Ford, which has vowed to make all European automotive sales electric-only by 2030.
This comes with the footnote of having the ability to soften that promise with plug-in hybrids. But, since this is all about corporate virtue signaling, that’s not what automakers tend to lead with. The industry wants to focus upon net-zero carbon emissions, sustainability, and other buzz terms that allow something to sound environmentally friendly without our needing to check if that’s actually the case. By the time 2030 comes around, only a few dozen people are even going to remember these promises if they’re not kept anyway — giving companies another opportunity to move the goalpost.
The Ford Motor Company is asking automakers to join it in supporting Californian vehicle emissions targets aimed at supplanting the rollback that was supposed to become the national standard. General Motors has already abandoned its support of the Trump rollbacks, which offered concessions to appease environmental groups but ultimately targeted more lax fueling regulation while seeking to eliminate California’s ability to self regulate as a way to curb its influence. But industry leaders are under the impression that a President Biden would attempt to swiftly transmission back to Obama-era regulatory targets or simply adopt the California model that’s been at odds with the national standards established by the Trump administration.
Considering how aggressive the Biden-Harris energy/environmentalism platform is, it certainly seems a plausible scenario and certain automotive executives feel that it would be best to go into 2021 aligned and supportive. The matter is even scheduled to be brought forward during Tuesday’s virtual auto trade association meeting.
As part of its planned $740 million campus development project in Detroit’s Corktown, Ford is planning a vehicle testing site behind the once-abandoned Michigan Central Station. The land was already earmarked to serve as home base for the company’s latest mobility projects, so the space will be used for exactly that. However, due to location’s size, it’ll probably be relegated to projects outside the normal automotive scope.
Mary Culler, director of Michigan Central Station’s redevelopment, teased what the site might look like further down the line at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday. The prospective testing ground was clearly shown in a slide during her presentation, located at the site of the station’s old loading area. However, the site isn’t expected to be operational until 2023, as the book depository and station renovations take precedence.
This week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Hackett were among 181 corporate executives claiming their companies need to do more than just deliver value to shareholders. If you just blacked out, we’ll reiterate — chief executives around the country are suggesting businesses need to do more than pad their share price.
We’re wondering why the sudden change of heart.
Ford may be phasing out the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans in the near future, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some the next time you’re visiting the dealership. Last week, the company announced a recall of 103,374 vehicles in the United States, 4,002 in Canada and 1,023 in Mexico due to bunk seatbelt anchor pretensioners.
According to the notice, increased temperatures generated during deployment of the driver or front-passenger pretensioner could degrade the tensile strength of the cable below the level needed to effectively restrain an occupant.
The steep white-collar job cuts that simmered on Ford’s back burner for a year have come into clear focus. In a letter to employees on Monday, CEO Jim Hackett announced the elimination of 7,000 salaried positions — some 10 percent of the automaker’s global workforce.
The move, part of Ford’s $11 billion restructuring plan, also calls for a 20-percent reduction in the company’s upper tier management. In the U.S., much of the pain will start being felt this week.
Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based firm Ford pumped $1 billion into and handed responsibility for educating its self-driving vehicles, just received a go-ahead for testing in the State of California. The company gained a testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday, making its autonomous trials perfectly legal on public roads.
Ford’s current trajectory has its autonomous vehicles entering the commercial market by 2021. That’s two years after General Motors promised to do the same. However, recent events cast doubt over whether GM will be able to meet its self-imposed deadlines (some of which dictate future investments from its partners) and start mass production of computer-controlled cars by the end of this year. It’s not just GM that’s having trouble, either. A critical look into autonomous development shows many companies are struggling with advancing the technology to a point that would make it commercially viable.
The Blue Oval might be better positioned in the autonomous race than initially presumed.
Chariot, Ford’s app-based shuttle service, has announced it will throw in the towel due to the rapidly changing “mobility landscape” of major cities. When the company launched in 2014 with Jim Hackett at the helm, it joined a bundle of “microtransit” firms hoping to undercut brands like Uber while providing a viable alternative to public transportation.
Ford acquired the company in March of 2016 for a reported $65 million, proving that not every mobility firm can be a golden goose. It snagged Hackett and made him Ford CEO roughly a year later, where he continued to oversee Chariot as chairman of the automaker’s Smart Mobility subsidiary. Unfortunately, the service is no longer deemed sustainable.
On the upside of things, this ought to put a few coins in the jar labeled “Restructuring Program” at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters.
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.
Not to be outdone by Toyota’s announcement of an all-wheel drive Prius at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford issued a teaser promoting the most capable variant of one of its own iconic models — the Mustang Shelby GT500.
However, the car isn’t coming to LA. According to Ford’s social media accounts and a new display in California, the vehicle won’t be on display until January 14th of 2019. As you might have guessed, that’s in the midst of the North American International Auto Show.
Have you heard about that other American automaker — the one that doesn’t callously ruin lives? This question, no doubt percolating inside the craniums of U.S. lawmakers and pundits, doesn’t need to be spoken to be heard.
What would normally be a simple announcement of a production increase at one plant and a decrease at two others took on a symbolic nature this week. Ford wants to build more large SUVs but requires fewer cars. Thanks to a quirk of geography, no layoffs are planned — something that can’t be said of GM’s scorched earth plan, right?
China, Europe, and South America all conspired to sink Ford’s profits in the third quarter of 2018, with the automaker posting a 37 percent net income drop compared to the same quarter a year ago.
The earnings report came the same day Ford announced the creation of a standalone Chinese business unit, Ford China. Dismal overseas performance didn’t come as a shock, however, as these headwinds were also felt in previous quarters, albeit not as strongly. That hasn’t stopped a barrage of questions directed at CEO Jim Hackett over how he plans to build a successful operation outside of America’s borders.