By on April 3, 2020

With social distancing measures throwing automotive sales straight into the dumpster, Ford is reportedly getting ready to float some interesting ideas by the U.S. government. It’s vying for a stimulus deal aimed at giving the industry a jump start after the health crisis posed by the novel coronavirus subsides.

One of the models Ford’s pushing is unsettlingly familiar.  (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2020

Despite Ford’s rejiggering of the Mach 1 name for use in the Mustang-inspired Mach-E crossover, the original will not be superseded by the new EV. Based upon leaked dealer VIN decoder guides, it appears the storied pony car trim could be returning for the 2021 model year.

We haven’t seen the Mach 1 since 2004, when it briefly appeared as the high-performance alternative to the Mustang GT. While not as brutal on paper as the SVT Cobra, it was loaded with the best parts the manufacturer could source from other Ford models reliant on the 4.6-liter V8. Having driven both vehicles when they were new, your author can attest to the supercharged snake being the superior performance coupe. Its independent rear suspension was unique within the Mustang lineup at the time, and it offered 390 horsepower against the Mach 1’s naturally aspirated 305 hp — though both vehicles seem to have been underrated by the manufacturer. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2020

With the United States on pause for the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve been left scratching our heads as to how it might impact the timetable of numerous vehicles slated to debut later this year. Apparently, working remotely isn’t as big a hassle for engineers as one might assume — provided the car is nearing completion. Ford is reportedly continuing development of the all-electric Mustang Mach-E by allowing staff to tweak and test prototypes from their homes.

Ideally, the crossover would be spending more time on factory proving grounds while being fussed over by a full complement of engineers. Yet Ford faces a situation where that’s not possible and doesn’t want it stalling the model’s launch. This is the automaker’s first real attempt at a purpose-built EV and the timing is important. A bad impression could send investors running for the hills; meanwhile, any delay would bring the Mach-E that much closer to obsolescence in the minds of customers.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2020

News arose yesterday that General Motors’ and Ford Motor Company’s battle plans rely heavily on SUV and pickup sales, rather than electric vehicles. Details of the corporate strategies, first shared by Reuters, soon circulated through the media, with many outlets upset that the pair seem to have oversold the role electrification will play in their respective lineups through 2026. One wonders how they could possibly be this surprised.

Using data issued to parts suppliers from the two automakers, AutoForecast Solutions predicted North American production of SUV models from GM and Ford will outpace the assembly of traditional cars by more than eight to one in 2026. Roughly 93 percent of those models are expected to be dependent upon gasoline. Meanwhile, Reuters compared the manufacturers’ strategy against Tesla — a company that only exists for the explicit purpose of selling EVs and has never assembled a gas-powered automobile — as if all manufacturers are equal in scope and cater to the same type of customers.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2020

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While Ford Motor Co. plans to reopen several factories by early April, it’s not doing much of anything at present. That’s a standard problem among domestic brands with the coronavirus afoot, and two of them — Ford and General Motors — are coming off sizable restructuring efforts that included staffing reductions in the thousands. Additional cutbacks aren’t desirable; not with everyone watching how these companies handle the outbreak.

As it secures extra spending power from credit lines, Ford knows the steep financial cost of having the majority of its workforce stuck at home (to say nothing of its customers) will be steep. A plan is now afoot to keep jobs secure. (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2020

Eager to make a good impression with its first serious inductee in the wild world of electrification, Ford has released winter testing footage of the Mach-E crossover. While primarily an opportunity for the Blue Oval to show its pre-production prototypes drifting through a white background, Ford also wanted to take the opportunity to explain that the all-wheel drive variant has proven particularly popular among those placing preorders.

According to the manufacturer, reservations were strongest in California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and Washington. The Midwest also had elevated take rates, with snowier states opting for all-wheel drive three-quarters of the time. Ford said that ratio jumped to 9 in 10 pre-orders for areas like New England, proudly announced that reservations have finally been made in all 50 states. However, it stopped short of giving up the total number of orders placed, encouraging us to do some digging.  (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2020

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Adhering to the latest industry trends, Ford has made a deal with insurer Allstate to share customer driving data and plans to issue a loyalty credit card tied into its rewards program. While the latter is in the service of retaining customers (with the help of Visa) in the second quarter of this year, the insurance partnership is technically already active. The Blue Oval is by no means the only automaker involved in such programs.

Like other automakers, Ford has already partnered with insurance companies in regional programs aimed at assessing how customers drive, using the collected information to adjust policies. Originally, this involved devices installed with the customer’s consent that transmitted telemetric data back to home base. Later versions were able to use on-board systems in conjunction with a downloadable app. Now, with connected cars becoming the norm, Allstate says it can just get the information directly from vehicles via manufacturer data centers.  (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2020

The United States Department of Justice has ended its investigation into Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW over a presumed antitrust violation stemming from a deal they made with California to adhere to regional emission rules. Their agreement technically circumvents the current administration’s plan to freeze national emissions and fuel economy standards — established while President Obama was still in office — at 2021 levels through 2026. Under the California deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and gas mileage requirements that are more stringent than the federal standards suggested in the rollback proposal.

But the probe also looked like retaliation from the Trump administration against automakers publicly siding with the state causing the most trouble in the gas war. Under the deal, the automakers promised to comply with pollution and economy requirements that are tougher than proposed federal standards. Despite the corporate promise being as empty as an Oscar speech, it was still an affront to the current administration’s efforts to tamp down lofty efficiency targets put in place just days before it came into power.

While the Justice Department hasn’t explicitly said why it closed the investigation, it’s presumed that it simply didn’t find anything that it felt violated antitrust laws. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, stating that the “trumped-up charges were always a sham, a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards.” (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2020

Ford Motor Co. may have accidentally given away the launch date of the next-generation Mustang. Last month, the company issued a job posting in Flat Rock, Michigan for a “Wind/Road Noise and Air Leakage Plant Vehicle Team Engineer” who would see off the current model before becoming “the final sign off on the Ford 2023 Mustang S650 vehicle program.”

The current ‘Stang uses the internal code S550 for factory identification, so the S650 designation make a lot of sense for its successor. No one had to break out the Enigma machines and put in weeks of hard work to crack that code. The listing makes it clear as day that the position will involve shoring up the next Mustang until it’s airtight and ready for customers in a couple of years.  (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2020

Emojis have taken on a bizarre level of importance within the automotive industry. Last October, Jeep complained about how the symbol used for its name on iOS devices didn’t accurately represent the brand — and it was only a few months earlier that Ford was busy teasing the pickup emoji it had pending with the Unicode Consortium. There’s marketing potential here, and everyone wants to see it work to their benefit.

While Jeep convinced Apple to disassociate the Jeep name from the generic crossover emoji, Ford’s progress has been harder to measure. The automaker’s product communications lead, Mike Levine, tweeted the symbol’s arrival late last week, but it didn’t much resemble the emoji Ford submitted. People noticed. Instead of a simplified F-Series in blue, the Unicode Consortium opted for a red truck straight out of a children’s book.

It also didn’t escape the notice of General Motors, which quickly decided to use the opportunity to kick Ford while it was down.  (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2020

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Ford Motor Co. has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with almost 2 million owners and former owners of Focus and Fiesta models equipped with the now infamous six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift transmission. Internally referenced as the DSP6, the unit was a known problem prior to installation. Last year’s scathing report in the Detroit Free Press showed its dark history in gory detail, indicating the automaker had painted itself into a corner and ignored warnings from both engineers and legal advisors not to use the DSP6.

Complaints of vehicles shuddering and stalling, bizarre delays between gear changes, and even full-blown failures to go into gear began streaming in — leaving Ford to pick up the pieces and attempt to downplay the failure as much as possible. Unfortunately, more engineers came forward to bash the transmission over its development and implementation. Johnny-on-the-spot for the topic, the Detroit Free Press recently reported that Ford agreed to settle — with one of the lawyers brokering the deal saying the payout could exceed $100 million.

We’ve also learned how much money Ford spent repurchasing defective vehicles through a voluntary arbitration program conducted during the legal appeal. Court documents state the company bought back 2,666 vehicles for around $47,500,000 between October 2017 and December 2019.  (Read More…)

By on January 14, 2020

Image: Ford Europe

Ford covertly patented the Stormtrak name in Europe at the tail end of 2019, potentially foreshadowing a new model that will undoubtedly bring all-wheel drive and some unnecessary body cladding. Our extended family over at AutoGuide noticed that the filing coincided with U.S. spy shots of a new midsize wagon with an abundance of ground clearance.

Could this be the aggressively-named lifestyle and activity vehicle Ford devotees have been waiting for? (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2020

Ford has struggled to improve market share in China for years now, as decades of economic growth made the region’s overwhelmingly large population too tempting for global manufacturers to pass up. But it hasn’t been an easy road for foreign automakers. Many entered the region saddled with a lack of brand awareness and were required to enter into joint ventures with Chinese firms to gain access (Ford has three). U.S. products have since faced additional scrutiny as American-Sino relations soured; at the same time, the whole of the market appears to be heading in the wrong direction.

While this hurt plenty of automakers that aren’t Ford, the Blue Oval has really taken it on the chin. The company reported a 26.1 percent sales decline for 2019, marking its third straight year of negative growth in China. At first blush, that may not appear relevant to what’s happening in the West. But Ford hasn’t seen its market share in the People’s Republic rise above 5 percent since 2008 (it’s about half that now), despite putting plenty of resources behind the project.  (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2019

2017 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback, Image: Ford

In July, we covered a scathing report that criticized Ford Motor Co’s usage of the DSP6 dual-clutch transmission found in the third-gen Focus and sixth-gen Fiesta. The hardware was surrounded by controversy, with company insiders highly critical of its implementation. Claims arose that the unit wasn’t performing as intended throughout its development, with corporate lawyers expressing serious doubts as to whether DTC technologies (which were relatively new at the time) were the automaker’s best choice.

Hindsight seems to have proven them right. The PowerShift DSP6 turned out to be a turd the company polished to the best of its ability and then put on sale, leading to more headaches. Officially, the manufacturer has said the vehicles were safe when introduced and have remained so. Still, Ford is well aware of the tranny’s issues; since the problems came to light, the automaker has extended warranties and encouraged service centers to repair their problematic transmissions.

While a kind gesture, some remain concerned that Ford appears to be sweeping the whole issue under the rug. Customers are angry, claiming the automaker should have never put the unit into production — a move that resulted in civil litigation. But that doesn’t appear to have ever been a real possibility. Those who tried to stop the DSP6 claim they were doomed to failure from the start.  (Read More…)

By on December 5, 2019

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Despite the average transaction price of your typical automobile climbing higher than ever before, there’s a lot of disagreement as to whether this actually amounts to more spending once inflation has been taken into account. Studies frequently show inflation-adjusted valuations climbing gradually over the years, resulting in MSRPs a few grand higher than what you might have spent in decades prior. Still, newer vehicles tend to have a much greater level of content and the ability to outlast something from 1970, helping to rationalize the difference. Data taken from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) actually suggests the average expenditure per vehicle actually peaked in the late 1990s before creeping back down.

Meanwhile, we keep hearing reports about the average transaction price of passenger vehicles settling above $37,000 for 2019. Cross referenced against the BEA data, that’s about $5,000 dearer than in 1999 — once you’ve shifted everything to present-day dollars. Blame people’s inability to say “no” to options, crossover popularity, or anything else you want. It won’t change the problem, especially as the wealth gap continues to widen between the haves and have nots.

Automakers know that sales are stagnating and Ford CEO Jim Hackett thinks he’s come up with a solution — and it’s a familiar one. It’s decontenting time.  (Read More…)

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