Archive for October, 2010

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Canada Post first with electric Ford Transit Connect

October 28, 2010

Oak Park, Michigan – Canada Post will be the first Canadian recipient of an electric Ford Transit Connect delivery van. Azure Dynamics, which converts the Transit Connect to electric power, will deliver one of the first vehicles to Canada Post under a special customer program.

Canada Post will receive the first vehicle by the end of this year, and has committed to the purchase of nine more by the end of 2011.

“Canada Post is the first Canadian company to sign on to this exclusive and innovative program aimed at providing environmental solutions to the commercial delivery market,” said Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics. “The transformative technology of the Transit Connect Electric reduces gasoline fuel costs to zero, produces no tailpipe emissions and is virtually silent as it travels through urban and suburban delivery routes. The progressive attitude of companies like Canada Post will contribute to making an important environmental impact.”

The Transit Connect Electric uses an advanced lithium-ion battery and achieves a range of up to 130 kilometres on a single charge. It is rechargeable using either a 120- or 240-volt outlet. Commercial vans generally return to a central location at the end of each driving cycle, making for easy overnight recharging, the company said.

(from Canadian Driver)

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Ford plans major investment in Michigan

October 26, 2010

Detroit, Michigan – Ford will invest US$850 million in Michigan between 2011 and 2013 as part of its commitment to grow its engineering and manufacturing employee base, upgrade its facilities in the state and further improve its vehicle fuel economy.

The investment will generate up to 1,200 new full-time positions in manufacturing and engineering operations in Michigan by 2013. The company expects that approximately 900 will be hourly positions in manufacturing facilities, with the remaining 300 as salaried positions within engineering and manufacturing operations.

Ford is making the commitment after working with officials on a new Michigan Economic Growth Authority package that replaces several existing state incentives and makes the state a more competitive place for investing in technologies and facilities. The Michigan Economic Development Council will consider the package this week. Once approved, Ford will allocate the investment across a variety of plants, including Van Dyke Transmission, Sterling Axle, Livonia Transmission and Dearborn Truck Plant.

The new investment commitment builds on $950 million the company previously announced to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant from a large SUV factory to a car plant that will build the new Focus, battery-electric Focus, and next-generation hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, all planned for production at the facility by 2012.

 

(from Canadian Driver)

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Ford May Post Record Third-Quarter Profit on `Virtuous Circle’

October 25, 2010

Ford Motor Co. may report the biggest third-quarter profit in its 107-year history tomorrow as Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally’s overhaul of the model lineup boosts the company’s share of the U.S. auto market.

Net income was $1.37 billion, based on the average projection of five analysts, up from $997 million and adjusted per-share earnings of 26 cents a year earlier. Estimates for adjusted quarterly profit have risen to 38 cents a share, the average of 12 analysts, from about 34 cents a month ago.

The second-largest U.S. automaker won 15.1 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales in the quarter, versus 13 percent two years earlier, according to Autodata Corp. Buyers are paying more on average for Ford vehicles as the company introduces new models like the Fiesta subcompact and features such as voice-activated phone and stereo controls.

“It’s a virtuous circle of the right products, targeted at the right customers with the right options,” said Brian Johnson, a Barclays Capital analyst, who rates the shares “overweight.”

Ford’s previous record for third-quarter net income was $1.13 billion in 1997.

The three-month period through September was Ford’s sixth straight profitable quarter. From 2006 through 2008, its losses totaled $30.1 billion as a collapse in sport-utility vehicle sales was followed by the most severe recession since the Great Depression.

Mulally, who arrived from Boeing Co. in September 2006, has revived Ford by boosting quality and fuel economy in its namesake brand.

Market Share Gains

Ford was the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy in 2009 and is headed toward a second straight year of share gains in its home market amid the worst auto sales since 1982. The company hasn’t increased market share in consecutive years since 1992 and 1993. Ford said it gained ground among young buyers and consumers on the West Coast and in the Northeast, areas that typically favor Asian and European brands.

“We’re not buying share at the bottom of the food chain,” George Pipas, Ford’s sales analyst, said in an interview. “People buying Fords today are generally more educated and affluent and they want and are willing to pay for nicer Fords.”

This year, Ford had 10.8 percent of the West Coast market for individual buyers, excluding fleet customers, up 0.9 point, and its share rose the same amount in the Northeast to 10.4 percent, Pipas said. In the Great Lakes region, which includes Detroit, Ford has a market share of 19.2 percent, up 2.3 percentage points this year, Pipas said. In the Central region, including Texas, Ford has 18.1 percent of the market, up 1.7 points.

Young Consumers

Ford has made the biggest gains among the youngest and oldest buyers, Pipas said. Through August, Ford had 12 percent of the market for 18- to 24-year-olds, up 1.4 points and scored the same gain to 17.7 percent of the market for buyers over age 75, its largest cohort, Pipas said. Ford’s lowest share is with 25- to 34-year-olds at 11 percent, up 1 point, Pipas said, citing data from researcher R.L. Polk & Co.

Ford boosted profit by cutting costs by $10 billion since 2005 and limiting factory output so it doesn’t have to discount its cars, Barclays’s Johnson said.

It also boosted revenue per-model by cutting discounts by 23 percent since 2008, according to Autodata, a researcher based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Buyers paid an average of $30,636 per model in September, up 10 percent from five years ago, Edmunds.com, a Santa Monica, California-based auto-pricing website, estimates.

“Ford was among the first to recognize that making money is more important than moving the metal,” Johnson said. “There’s now a general level of pricing discipline across Detroit, which is leading to higher average transaction prices.”

Fiesta Prices

The Fiesta subcompact, which went on sale in the U.S. in June, is fetching $3,000 to $4,000 above its $13,995 base price because buyers are ordering options such as leather seats, Pipas said. The Fiesta is commanding a higher average price than Honda Motor Co.’s Civic and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla, Ford said.

“They’ve had a series of successful new products,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of pricing and industry analysis for Santa Monica, California-based Edmunds. “When you consistently come out with good products, then people start to believe you’ve really changed.”

Redesigned versions of the Focus compact car and Explorer SUV coming next year should also generate higher prices, Johnson said. That could offset discounts Ford may have to put on its F- series pickups while General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC try to sell down bloated truck inventories, he said.

In the second quarter, higher net prices added $1.1 billion to Ford’s pretax automotive income.

‘Revenue Story’

“At this stage, we see Ford as a revenue story much more than a cost story,” Adam Jonas, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, wrote in an Oct. 4 note. He rates Ford “overweight” and said the stock may reach $20 in the next 12 months. “We believe the shares do not properly discount a top-line set to grow 42 percent by 2015.”

Ford shares had their highest close this year at $14.46 on April 26, the day before the company reported a $2.1 billion first-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates. Ford rose 14 cents, or 1 percent, to $13.95 on Oct. 22 and has gained 40 percent this year.

Of 17 analysts covering Ford, 11 recommend buying the shares, 5 advise holding and 1 recommends selling, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In January 2009, 1 analyst had a buy rating while 8 said hold and 3 said sell.

Investors see its time to get back in because everybody recognizes they’ve done a great job,” said Mirko Mikelic, senior portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who owns Ford debt and is considering purchasing shares. “We’re definitely more positive on Ford than in the past. We’d like to see two more solid quarters.”

 

(from Bloomberg.com)

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Ford Focus electric convenience cord gives owners easy handle on recharging

October 21, 2010

When Ford debuts its all-new Focus Electric in late 2011, customers will learn a new way of “refueling”, plugging in instead of gassing up.

While most owners are expected to recharge the zero-emissions, gas-free Focus Electric at home with an optional wall-mounted 240V charging station, they also will have the ability to recharge at remote locations with a standard 120V convenience cord.

Owners of Focus Electric will recharge the car’s onboard lithium-ion battery pack by plugging the convenience plug or charge station plug into the vehicle’s charge port.

When plugged in, the vehicle’s onboard charger converts the AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the liquid-cooled battery pack.

A full recharge is expected to take six to eight hours with a 240V charge station or more than 12 hours with a 120V convenience cord set. When fully charged, Focus Electric is expected to deliver up to 100 miles of gas-free driving – more than enough for most commuters, who average 40 miles per day.

Since Focus Electric owners are likely to recharge their vehicles two to four times each day (nearly 1,500 times a year) compared to once a week for gassing up (52 times a year), Ford conducted an ergonomic study to help determine plug handle design, as well as charge port height and insertion angle.

 

(from Hamilton Spectator)

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Inside Scoop: Pre-Paid Maintenance and Extended Warranty Packages

October 19, 2010

These days when we go to buy a new vehicle it seems there are always “add-ons” that we get offered once we get in to see the Finance or Business Manager.  It can sometimes be an overwhelming situation: you are completely focused on the details of your new vehicle and then you have to switch your focus to something else which will undoubtedly cost you more money.  This article will explore two of these “extras”: pre-paid maintenance packages and extended warranty packages.

The pre-paid maintenance package is something that most of us have either not heard of at all, or have heard very little about, unless we have purchased a new vehicle recently.  The idea behind this kind of package is that you can pre-pay for the scheduled maintenance for your vehicle.  Typically, this package can even be included in the financing of your vehicle.

So, is it worth buying?  The answer is a resounding “YES”.  Ask any service technician and they will tell you that a great deal of the work they perform in their shops could have been avoided if the vehicle had been maintained on a regular basis.  I’m sure we have all been in the situation where we know our vehicle needs the recommended maintenance, but we find ourselves a bit short on cash at the time and we end up putting it off.  Many times the amount we “saved” by not getting the maintenance done ends up costing us much more in the long run.  Having the scheduled maintenance included in the purchase of your vehicle will go a long way to protect your investment and will do a lot to increase your peace-of-mind.

As an example, at Ford we have the “Ford Maintenance Protection Plan” or “FMPP”.  This particular program has several options within it so that it can be tailored to the amount of driving you typically do in your vehicle.  And, if you sell your vehicle, the FMPP may be transferred to the new owner, which can add to the resale value of your vehicle.  And with the “FMPP Plus!” package, you get the added protection of Ford’s Premium Care Extended Service Plan (ESP) coverage, or extended warranty.  Let’s look at the benefits of extended warranties.

When buying a new vehicle, many people don’t think of purchasing an extended warranty.  Why?  Because it comes with a factory warranty!  However, most factory warranties are for 3 to 5 years.  While this might seem like a long time, the average car buyer will typically own their vehicle for longer than 5 years.  So, what happens after the factory warranty period ends?  Hopefully, nothing!  But in the event that something does happen, it would be nice to know that you are still covered and that you won’t be paying a lot of money out of your pocket to get your vehicle fixed.

With Ford’s Premium Care Component Coverage, there are 500+ components that are covered.  Just like Ford’s FMPP program, the Premium Care Extended Service Plan can be tailored to the individual.  It may also be transferred if you sell your vehicle, once again adding resale value to your vehicle.

So, the next time you are looking to purchase a new vehicle, think about these options which will help protect the investment you are about to make.

Please contact me if you have any questions about these programs:

dale@hallmarkford.ca

 

 

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The Boss is Back

October 12, 2010

Ford is manufacturing a new blast from the past that hasn’t seen a comparable model since 1969. The Mustang Boss 302 is being reincarnated once again and it looks promising… very promising.

Ford revealed that the 2012 Boss 302 will still house a 5.0-litre V8 at its heart with a revised intake producing 440hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. The differences continue from other Mustang models with: an upgraded clutch, adjustable suspension, larger brakes, rear exit exhaust with side pipes as well and a race inspired interior with Recaro seats.

The original Boss 302 was a purpose-built road racer that would scream with power in the higher rpm and had immaculate handling. The new Boss 302 has been engineered to run parallel with all of these characteristics.

The car was developed around the 5.0-litre engine. First was the addition of a runners-in-the-box velocity stack intake to drastically improve the breathability and improve the high-rpm power band. Moving from the top of the engine inside, the head received more aggressive cams, enhanced tuning on the variable cam timing and then added the interesting exhaust that sports a rear dual exhaust and some badass side pipes too.

The side pipes aren’t just to gain fan-boy points, they actually serve a great function. During everyday cruising, most of the exhaust flows to the rear of the vehicle and the side pipes dish up a beefy audible note for the driver and anyone in the near vicinity. If the owner wanted to make a day trip to the track however, they could quickly and easily pop in a bypass spacer, redirecting all the exhaust to the side pipes unrestricting the exhaust flow for some more power gains. Of course, any hardcore track goer that is handy with tools can easily just place an electronic bypass valve in the flange of the exhaust and control it with the flip of a switch from inside the car.

With the upgraded power, there needs to be some other reinforcement in the vehicle to counteract the added ponies. There are some refined touches to the weekend warrior like retuned electronic steering, traction control, stability control, an upgraded clutch and a short shifter that allows it to still be a street-able driver through the week. The suspension is also ideal for any style of driving as it has stiffer springs all around, larger diameter anti-roll bars and manually adjustable dampers with five stiffness settings. On the street, or on the track, put a screwdriver to each shock tower and you have total control of the suspension at each corner of the car.

The rear end of the Boss 302 is geared at 3.73 with long-life carbon fiber plates slipped into the limited slip differential putting the power to the rear wheels evenly. There is even a factory optional Torsen torque-sensing LSD available for the ultimate track goers. The Boss also gets a nice set of lightweight 19” racing wheels with Pirelli PZero staggered tires connecting the power to the ground. Behind those shiny wheels are 4 piston 14” Brembo’s bringing the Boss to a complete stop, quickly.

The aggressive chin spoiler and blocked off fog lamps are a direct correlation to the old Boss 302. However, now there are some added features that go along with a Boss from a new era. There are distinct side panels, suede wrapped steering wheel, cue-ball shifter, dark painted dash, and optional Recaro sport seats to wrap you in tight through the corners. Although it seems like the car doesn’t have any limitations, it does in the colour department. It will only be offered in orange, white, blue, yellow and red and with a white or black roof. It is also leaner than its other pony counterparts, being stripped 11 lbs of sound deadening – making the car lighter, and louder. This offers a much more mechanical feeling when in the car by hearing some noises you wouldn’t hear in normal, everyday cars. The little creeks and squeaks all add to the raw driving experience.

Ford will also be celebrating Parnelli Jones’ victory with a Boss 302 at Laguna Seca back in 1970 with a commemorative 302R version. This will be the ultimate race package making it the most vicious street legal Mustang by tossing aside any creature comforts, adding in more body stiffeners and an even more aggressive aero pack.

The Boss 302 is an exceptional step up from a GT pony and will likely be priced quite a few thousand shy of a Shelby GT500.

I’m sure Ford won’t have any trouble moving these off the lots as any Mustang fan would be thrilled to have this horse waiting in their personal stable for a Sunday drive or a day at the track.

 

(from Daniel Ponzini, painkillerz.ca)

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Ford works with New York on electric vehicles

October 7, 2010

New York, New York – Ford is partnering with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to help prepare the state of New York for the operation of electric vehicles. The two will work together to develop consumer outreach and education programs, as well as share information on charging needs and requirements.

“Ford plans on bringing five new electrified vehicles to market over the next two years, including the Transit Connect Electric later this year and the Focus battery electric in late 2011,” said Sherif Marakby, director of electrification programs and engineering for Ford. “We know there is an incredible excitement for electric vehicles in the New York area and across the country. To support the rollout and acceptance of these vehicles, it is crucial to work with utilities like NYPA to make sure the necessary infrastructure is ready.”

Ford and NYPA are also working together to educate fleet owners about options when it comes to electric vehicles, with NYPA holding a ride-and-drive at its administration office building today. Under its electric transportation program, the Power Authority helps to arrange for other government grants in support of the acquisition of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles by public entities, including vans, buses, trucks, passenger cars and work vehicles.

 

(from Canadian Driver)