Archive for January, 2010

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Ford Fusion Hybrid does 2,326 km on a single tank

January 28, 2010

(from Canadian Driver)

Washington, D.C. – A team of drivers trained in maximum-mileage techniques coaxed 1,445.7 miles (2,326 km) out of a single tank of fuel in a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. The vehicle, a non-modified production model, averaged 81.5 mpgUS (2.8 L/100 km) during the event.

The Fusion Hybrid 1,000-Mile Challenge started on Saturday, April 25 in Mount Vernon, Virginia, and ended April 28 at 5:37 a.m. in Washington, D.C. The Fusion depleted its tank after more than 69 hours of continuous driving, setting a world record for a gasoline-powered midsize sedan. The car’s official estimated range is approximately 700 miles (1,126 km) per tank.

The challenge team, which included NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, high mileage trailblazer Wayne Gerdes, and several Ford Motor Company engineers, raised more than US$8,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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Feature: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

January 28, 2010

(from Canadian Driver)

The first production hybrid vehicle – the 2000 Honda Insight – went on sale in Canada a decade ago. It was a little odd-looking, carried only two passengers and had an MSRP of $26,000. Since then, hybrid technology has improved and vehicles have become much more conventional in appearance and operation.

One hybrid vehicle that’s getting very positive reviews is the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Like some of its competitors (Toyota Camry Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid) it points the way to how hybrid vehicles are becoming part of the mainstream midsize market. But on the road, what are the differences between it and a conventional Fusion?

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid; photo by Chris Chase.

Not a lot, actually. Visually, the Fusion Hybrid is little different than the conventional version; no quirky or strange looks that shout “hybrid,” other than a few logos on the doors and rear trunk lid. And driving it doesn’t require any particular skill or expertise that you wouldn’t have when driving any other midsize family car. The powertrain, of course, is very different. It consists of a 2.5-litre four cylinder gas engine and a 70-kilowatt electric motor mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and producing a net horsepower rating of 191. But still, its operation is not something of which you’re particularly aware.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Click image to enlarge.

Step inside, turn the key and you’re greeted by the first really obvious difference, as the gas engine doesn’t start immediately. Instead, it gathers information from the smart climate controls to determine whether the engine is really necessary, and if not, you just drive away on battery alone. On days when the temperature is cold, the engine will start in order to better warm the cabin and defrost the windows. On warmer days, the engine start is delayed, thus saving fuel.

On the road, the Fusion Hybrid is almost silent, and doesn’t feel underpowered. If you’re running on electric-only, a quick stab at the throttle will kick in the gas engine and all the power you need is available.

The regenerative brakes on hybrid cars still use conventional brake pads to stop the car at high speeds, but at slower speeds the electric motor reverses direction and this reversal counteracts forward momentum to slow the car. The reversal of the electric motor acts as a generator, which produces voltage, and this is used to recharge the batteries. Ford claims improved brake pedal feel from previous generation braking systems with a new simulator brake actuation system, but I think this still needs some tweaking, as the pedal feel is very spongy and brakes tended to grab, especially when cold.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid; photo by Chris Chase.

The dashboard is a busy place with plenty of information to absorb. Gauges show whether the engine or the electric motor is running, state of charge of the battery, and on the far right of the dashboard is an interesting indicator that you don’t see on conventionally powered vehicles. It’s a series of vines, and as you drive, leaves magically appear on the vines. The idea is that the more leaves you have, the more fuel-efficiently you are driving, Ford calls it an EcoGuide, and it’s designed to coach you on optimizing the performance of the hybrid powertrain.

The levels of information displayed can be customized to suit each driver’s needs or situation. A shutdown screen reviews important information from the latest trip, giving fuel economy figures and comparative data from previous days. Also available on the optional navigation system screen is a display of the hybrid drivetrain, showing power flow, fuel economy and battery state of charge.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid; photo by Chris Chase.

The new Fusion Hybrid isn’t Ford’s first attempt at building a hybrid – 2005 saw the introduction of the Ford Escape Hybrid, and Ford engineers have been working to improve the technology since then. Some of the improvements are a smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride battery which produces 20 per cent more power, Intake Variable Cam Timing (iVCT), which changes spark and cam timing allowing a more seamless transition between gas to electric mode and back, as well as smarter climate controls that monitor cabin temperatures and run the engine only when needed to heat the cabin. Also new is the ability of operating in electric-only mode at speeds up to 75 km/h, producing official fuel efficiency figures of 4.6 L/100 km city and 5.4 L/100 km highway.

I found that the only indication of actually driving a hybrid was the occasional burble when the gas engine would kick in, and the strange brake pedal feel mentioned above. On the positive side, I enjoyed the feeling of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic and not burning a single drop of fuel. During my week with the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid I averaged 6.3 L/100 km of mostly city driving.

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Ford Net May Be $2.65 Billion as Mulally Achieves ‘Impossible’

January 27, 2010

(from Bloomberg)

Ford Motor Co. may report 2009 net income of $2.65 billion tomorrow after overcoming the worst U.S. auto market in 27 years and avoiding a federal bailout. An annual profit would be the first for CEO Alan Mulally and ratify his strategy of developing new models such as the Fusion hybrid while slashing the North American workforce by about 47 percent since he joined Ford from Boeing Co. in late 2006. “This is a company that absolutely bled money in the last five years,” said Bernie McGinn, president of McGinn Investment Management of Alexandria, Va., which owns 320,000 Ford shares. “Mulally has done what had been considered impossible in a very short amount of time.” Mulally, 64, reiterated yesterday to reporters in Washington that Ford won’t be “solidly profitable” on an operating basis until 2011, saying he’ll give “updated guidance” once earnings are out.

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Carroll Shelby builds GT350s from 2011 Ford Mustang GTs

January 26, 2010

(from USA Today)

 
Among muscle-car fans, Mustang’s original Shelby GT350 holds a special place in history as the premier powerful, track-hugging, custom Ford pony car of the late 1960s.

Now Carroll Shelby, who just turned 87, is modifying the latest high-powered 2011 Ford Mustang GT, due on sale this spring, to create a new version of the GT350, which was formally unveiled Monday night at the opening gala for the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The new car is being released on the 45th anniversary of the original GT350, and only about 2,200 of them will be produced over the next two years.

The new GT350 plays heavily on nostalgia and is aimed straight at “old Baby Boomers” who remember the original, Shelby says. “They love the performance and they will stick with it.”

Even better, there is a higher likelihood than with younger Shelby fans that Boomers can afford it. To get one, buyers first have to purchase a new, stock 2011 Mustang GT from Ford, which is expected to be priced at $30,000. Then they will need to write a check to Shelby American for an additional $33,995 to pay for morphing the car into a GT350.

About 100 Shelby fans have already lined up to buy one, says Amy Boylan, president of Shelby American car customizing operation headquartered next to a racetrack in Las Vegas. It proves how strongly memories remain about the original.

“The legend lives!” says Tom duPont, publisher of the duPont Registry, a sales guide of classic and collectible cars, and owner of more than dozen cars.

“It is the Holy Grail of all Shelbys,” Boylan says about the original. Never mind that there are plenty of others now modifying Mustangs in the custom-car world. “When you look at a sea of Mustangs, there are only so many people who can build Mustangs that have heritage.”

There’s no mistaking the new GT350’s heritage. While Ford sells its own GT500 with Cobra badges under license from Shelby, the GT350 will be very different. Body modifications to the front and rear of the 2011 version make it appear like the original. And as in 1965, the 2011 GT350 is white with blue “Le Mans stripes.” Carroll Shelby won the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race in France in 1959.

The 412-horsepower Ford 5.0-liter engine for 2011 will be modified for GT350 to give it upwards of 500 horsepower. (The original GT350 had a 289-cubic-inch V-8, producing 350 horsepower.) All will have a six-speed manual transmission, centered rear exhaust, functional scoops and racing brakes.

The suspension gets racing springs, struts, sway bars and camber plates. To finish it off, there are 19-inch wheels and extra-grippy tires.

“This car is our most radically designed,” Boylan says. “We don’t take it apart and slap (new parts) on. We’ve done a complete body change.”

Shelby American, which changed its name in December from Shelby Automobiles, has been modifying Mustangs for years.

“I still have the passion to do it, but sometimes I get discouraged with interference from lawyers and accountants,” says Shelby, who says he plans to keep working as long as he can.

A couple of years ago, the company modified the previous-generation Mustang into a heritage edition for Hertz, the GT-H. Shelby has since produced versions of his Super Snake models.

The company also makes recreations of the Cobra sports car, another model from Shelby’s heyday nearly a half-century ago. “Any opportunity Carroll Shelby has to make a buck on his heritage, he’ll take. But we’re the beneficiaries,” said duPont. He says he thinks the GT350 will succeed mostly because it will be fun to drive, putting aside any value as a collectible.

But Dave Kinney, editor of Hagerty’s Cars That Matter, a pricing guide to collectible cars, says the combination of Mustangs and Carroll Shelby may not be “perceived as significant right away” but could be “significant in the future.”

Indeed, a prototype for the 1965 Shelby GT350, the 10th ever built, is going on the Gooding & Co. auction block in Scottsdale this week, where it could fetch $200,000.

“Those cars were spectacular,” says Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson, about the original. “They are one of the most desirable collector cars in the world.”

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2011 Mustang GT Indy Pace Car sells for $300000 at Barret Jackson!

January 25, 2010

January 23, 2010

Scottsdale, Arizona

The Barrett Jackson auctions are some of the most famous auto auctions in the world.  Every year in Scottsdale thousands of vehicles are sold for millions of dollars.  Additionally, many vehicles are sold at auction for charity, raising millions for worthwhile causes.

2010 was no exception.

This 2011 Mustang GT, which will be the pace car for the Daytona 500, sold for an incredible $300000 USD during the Saturday session of the auction.  Proceeds from the sale of this car will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The winning bidder not only gets the car after the Daytona 500 race, they will also get tons of extras from Ford, including passes into the pit areas, admission to Ford Hospitality at the race, and a hot lap in the car with a professional race car driver.

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2011 Ford Mustang GT will pace Daytona 500

January 21, 2010

(from Canadian Driver)

The 2011 Mustang GT will serve as the Official Pace Car at the 52nd Daytona 500, the first time in 40 years a Ford vehicle has paced the NASCAR race.

The 5.0-litre equipped car, which carries a special Daytona 500 striped paint scheme, will later be auctioned at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector Car Auction in Arizona on January 23, with all proceeds over the car’s MSRP donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“This is the resurgence of Ford, and pacing the field at the Daytona 500 is a great opportunity to showcase all of the technology that the new 2011 Mustang 5.0 brings to deliver 412 horsepower and projected unsurpassed highway mileage of 25 mpg,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas.

Over the past three years, Ford has raised more than US$2 million for JDRF through the sale of vehicles at Barrett-Jackson.

The last time a Ford product paced the Daytona 500 was in 1970, when the Ford Torino GT convertible was used.

 

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Ford hopes “small” is the next big thing; Introduces next-gen Focus in Detroit, but Canadians clamour for soon-to-arrive Fiesta

January 20, 2010

(from the Toronto Star)

 

Ford Motor Co., which has regained some of its lustre in the past year, hopes to add to it and build more momentum in the marketplace after revealing its next-generation Focus compact on Monday, at a time when more buyers are turning to smaller cars.  

Top Ford officials introduced the production version of the popular compact sedan and five-door hatchback at the North American International Auto Show, where numerous automakers are rapidly upgrading their entries in a growing and fiercely competitive segment.  

“Small is growing quite big,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, told more than 2,000 journalists at the show’s media preview.  

Fields and other Ford officials said the company has invested heavily in subcompacts and compacts during the past few years because of soaring worldwide demand – particularly in Asia, where a huge middle class is emerging.  

In Canada, where small cars are already popular, the Focus is the seventh-best selling car, but company president David Mondragon says he expects the latest version to move up when it starts appearing in show rooms early next year.  

Ford is coming off a strong year in Canada, where sales climbed by more than 14,000 vehicles, or almost 7 per cent, to 225,000 while the market tumbled 10.7 per cent.  

Ford has big hopes for the Focus in the U.S., where it is forecasting the market will jump by 25 per cent by 2012 because of volatile fuel costs.  

The company also starts selling the Fiesta subcompact in North America this summer for the first time.  

Ford has sold the Fiesta in Europe for many years and its entry on this continent fills a big hole in a company line-up that has improved significantly in recent years.

“The Ford Fiesta will offer the biggest bang for the buck to the Canadian consumer,” Mondragon said later in an interview.  

He said 40,000 Canadians have registered online with Ford seeking more information about the Fiesta.  

“That’s the highest level of customer awareness of any vehicle we’ve ever had at this stage of a launch,” he said.  

Ford said the Focus should also drive profits because it will use nearly identical parts on the same platform or chassis at assembly plants in Germany, the U.S. and China. That should dramatically improve economies of scale, according to company officials.  

In a presentation that featured a Focus rising from beneath a floor, Ford officials emphasized numerous technological improvements including the “My Ford” system that will allow drivers to use voice commands and controls to connect with entertainment and information sources, mobile phones and other devices while minimizing distractions.  

They also noted updates to suspension and steering, including electric power assistance.  

Ford is introducing a larger, more powerful 2.0-litre engine to the North America market with fuel economy gains of more than 10 per cent.  

Journalists awarded Ford top prize for North America’s best new car, the Ford Fusion hybrid, and truck, the Transit Connect van.