Archive for November, 2010

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Ford to open 100 new dealerships in China

November 29, 2010

Nanning, China – Ford will open 66 new dealerships in China by the end of the year, bringing its total to 100 new dealers in the country in 2010 and its total number of outlets to 340. The newer dealerships are located primarily in fast-growing cities in western and northern China.

“Following the call to ‘go west,’ we are expanding west and in developing cities where most of the future growth will come from,” said Joe Hinrichs, chairman and CEO of Ford China. “By expanding our retail footprint in western China, we are continuing to realize the vision of Henry Ford to make personal transportation more accessible and efficient. We are thankful that with the support of our JV partners in China, we are on track to have a record sales year in China. We will also have a record year for sales in the Asia Pacific and Africa region as a whole.”

Ford and its joint venture Changan Ford Mazda Automotive Limited are also building a new assembly plant in Chongqing and have just signed an agreement to build a new engine plant in that city as well. Ford will introduce the new Edge to China in mid-December.

 

(from Canadian Driver)

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New Technical Features for the Focus

November 26, 2010

These are happy days for Ford – and about to get even happier. Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas says 13 of his company’s cars will lead their segments in fuel economy in 2011 and soon they’ll be the only manufacturer with four vehicles delivering more than 5.88L/100 km.

That will happen when the 2012 Focus goes on sale. And, even happier news, that fuel economy is with the automatic transmission.

Fields says this is “the best driving Focus ever, with lots of technical features” including a navigation system that will display three routes to your destination – including the one that’s most economical.

Focus will come in both four- and five-door form and a hot ST version making 247 hp will go on sale in 2012.

Focus also will have lots of accessories to customize your ride – important to the car’s target group of men and women under 35.

 

(from Autonet.ca)

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New Ford Focus shows off in Los Angeles

November 17, 2010

Los Angeles, California – The all-new 2012 Focus gears up for its North American launch with two models, a four-door hatchback and sedan, on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

“Ford brings a desirable combination of dynamic design, outstanding driver engagement, unmatched levels of technology and impressive fuel economy,” said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. “The new model should expand Focus appeal to a whole new generation of customers.”

Focus is Ford’s most significant global nameplate, with more than ten million units sold since its launch in 1998. Developed in Europe and for sale in more than 120 markets worldwide, the all-new Focus is a key element in Ford’s North American product portfolio. A new high-series Titanium model will please drivers shifting from larger and luxury-class vehicles, the company said.

The Focus uses a completely new 2.0-litre gasoline direct-injection engine, delivering more power than the current 2.0-litre Duratec but with projected fuel economy gains of more than ten per cent. The engine is mated to Ford’s dry-clutch six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.

Available features on the North American Focus include active park assist, SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information, HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, ambient lighting, torque vectoring control, rearview camera and Intelligent Access with pushbutton start.

The new model is built in Wayne, Michigan and will go on sale in early 2011.

 

(from Canadian Driver)

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Next Ford F-150 Could Trade Steel Frame for Magnesium-Alloy

November 16, 2010

With Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 30 miles per gallon for light trucks looming ever closer, Ford is looking at ways to meet these targets without sacrificing performance on its bread winning F-series pickups.

One method, hinted by CEO Alan Mullaly is in shaving weight. The current F-150 uses a fully-boxed steel frame, which is strong, but heavy, so for the next generation truck an option being considered is a chassis made from magnesium alloy.

There’s a good deal of logic to this. Magnesium is currently one of the most abundant elements on earth and is 36 percent lighter than aluminum. It’s also being increasingly adopted by automakers, primarily on suspension components and engine blocks, but also body panels. In fact Ford managed to shave some 22 lbs off the Lincoln MKT crossover utility vehicle by using separate aluminum and magnesium panels for the rear lift gate instead of ordinary stamped steel.

Along with the frame, Ford is also exploring the possibilities of using aluminum body panels on the next F-150, though for strength and durability a steel skin will likely remain. As for powertrain options, there’s no official word on what might be offered down the road, though expect a next generation EcoBoost V6 and possibly an inline-five cylinder engine, maybe a turbo diesel.

 

(from Autoguide.com)

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Ford Turns Focus on the World

November 8, 2010

Early in 2011, Ford will open up the garage doors for its global Focus that will be sold in all world markets in four-door hatchback and wagon (versions we haven’t got in North America since 2007), and four-door sedan.

North American Focus models get a new 2.0-litre direct injected and variable valve timed four-cylinder engine that puts out 160 hp (up 20 from the current engine) and improves economy by 10%.

A five-speed manual transmission is expected to be the standard transmission, with a new six-speed automatic optional. A stop/start system aids in improving fuel economy on European engines (small fours and diesel variants) but it’s not known whether the system will be available on the 2.0L engine.

In keeping with the recent trend at Ford, the new Focus is packed with the latest technologies. Front and centre is the new MyFord system that owners can custom tailor to suit individual preferences. On the high-end series, most of the controls are handled through a touch-screen display. Sync is, of course, part of the deal, with the ability to control sound, ambience, navigation and communication devices by voice.

On the safety front, Focus gets a version of the Volvo City Safety system that uses sensors to determine if a frontal collision (at speeds below 30 km/h) is imminent and stops the car (by reducing throttle input and applying brake force) if the driver doesn’t take action. Other systems available include parking assist, lane departure, adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection.

A product of Ford’s high-performance divisions (including SVT) a new Focus ST will be based on the four-door hatchback version. Power comes from an Eco- Boost (turbocharged) version of the 2.0L “four”. It makes an estimated 250 hp and peak torque of 265 lb.-ft. Control is entrusted to a six-speed manual transmission.

The ST differentiates itself from the regular Focus with unique front and rear looks, more muscular fenderwork, unique alloy wheels and a high mounted spoiler. Inside, Recaro racing style seats, metal pedals and a carbon-fibre look console add to the sporty flavour.

All Focus models get a new Torque Vectoring Control system up front that distributes torque between the front wheels and helps reduce understeer, improve traction and produce better turn-in to enhance handling. The ST gets a lowered chassis and special suspension tuning.

Focus sedans and wagons are due to go into production in fall 2010 in Michigan, with a launch slated toward the end of 2010. The ST model is due for a 2012 launch.

 

(from Joe Duarte, The Expositor)

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Ford prepares North Carolina for electric vehicles

November 5, 2010

Raleigh, North Carolina – Ford and electric utility Progress Energy have announced a joint effort to help prepare North Carolina for the operation of electric vehicles. The companies will focus on the “Research Triangle” area of the state, developing consumer outreach and education programs on electric cars.

The two companies will also share information on charging needs and requirements to ensure the electrical grid can support the demand.

“There is an incredible excitement for electric vehicles in the Raleigh area,” said David Finnegan, Ford’s electric vehicle marketing manager. “To support the roll-out and acceptance of these vehicles in Raleigh and across the country, it is crucial to work with local utilities to make sure the necessary electric infrastructure is ready and to help consumers understand the technology choices they will have available to meet their transportation needs.”

Progress Energy is one of ten utilities partnered with Ford to test 20 plug-in hybrid Ford Escape models to obtain data on durability, reliability and safety of the new battery technology.

 

(from Canadian Driver)

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Ford’s stunning profit turnaround

November 2, 2010

Think about this number: $6.3 billion (all figures in U.S. dollars). That’s how much Ford Motor has earned so far this year and it means the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker is now among the most profitable car companies in the world.

Yes, that’s correct. Ford Motor, which lost $14.8 billion in 2008, now trails only Germany’s Volkswagen Group among the top auto earners in the entire industry. Through three quarters, VW has earned $6.6 billion at current exchange rates.

However, VW has warned in a statement that growth “will not continue as strongly in the fourth quarter.” Ford, on the other hand, plans to boost fourth-quarter vehicle output in North America by 20,000 units, an increase of 3.5 per cent. Ford may yet win the title of world’s most profitable auto maker, depending on what happens in the fourth quarter.

“A few years ago, we were a discount brand in the smaller and medium-sized vehicles,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally said during a conference call to discuss record third quarter earnings of $1.7 billion. “The response we’re getting now in the Mustang, the Taurus and the Fusion is that these are world-class, and people really want them. We’re on a positive and stable path for (pricing) values in vehicles.”

The term “pricing values” is industry-speak for the ability to charge more for vehicles – because buyers really want them. For instance, at an average price of $17,020, the Ford Fiesta subcompact is commanding about the same average price in the U.S. as the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla, but without ladling on the heavy incentives Honda and Toyota are offering. The story is exactly the same in Canada, with the average Fiesta transaction price at more than $19,000.

“We have moved into a new chapter for Ford: building cars and trucks people really want and value, and continuously improving our quality and productivity,” Mulally said in an e-mail to the New York Times.

Here’s what is most interesting of all. No, I’m not talking about Ford eliminating its net debt by the end of the next quarter. In fact, after Ford makes a payment to its U.S. health care trust, Ford’s total debt will be down to $22.8 billion, compared with $33.6 billion at the end of last year. By slashing $10.8 billion in debt this year, Ford will save an estimated $800 million in annual interest payments.

“Eight hundred million — that’s almost the cost of a product program,” said Mr. Booth, the chief financial officer in a call with analysts and reporters.

Honestly, the most interesting part of Ford’s third-quarter earnings report could be found in the details of where Ford is NOT making much money, or none at all. North America is doing fine, with $1.6 billion in pretax profit.

But surely South America can contribute more than $241 million. And Asia-Pacific-Africa simply must toss in more than $30 million. Europe? Europe lost $196 million in the third quarter. What a mess.

If Ford can find a way to spin off earnings from the rest of its global business, then the company’s 68 per cent improvement in year-over-year third quarter earnings will look like a pittance.

“One Ford” is the company’s new slogan. But right now only one of Ford’s four global regions is contributing to the bottom line. It’s time for the rest to put some serious money into the Ford kitty.

 

(from Globe Drive)