Archive for April, 2011

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Despite availability of vibrant colors, most customers choose classic car colors

April 27, 2011

DEARBORN, Mich., April, 2011 – Despite an array of bright, vibrant car colors, U.S. customers on the coasts and customers in most European countries prefer the classic core colors – white, black, silver and gray.

Gray and silver are most popular in New York and Los Angeles. San Franciscans like white and Bostonians like black.

Only one country in Europe has a top color other than white, black or silver: The Czech Republic chooses blue.

“The trend continues to be toward core colors – the classics,” said Susan Swek, Ford’s group chief designer for Color and Materials. “We strive within Ford to achieve the best black, silver, white and gray. We’re always working to make them even more appealing.”

Paint, she said, is no different from clothing when it comes to color and style.  

“The classics are continually upgraded – and always with a modern twist,” Swek said. “In Europe, we’ve added tri-coat pearl technology to give gray-scale colors a glimmer. And in North America we are creating more tinted clear coats for a rich, luscious effect.”

A new core color, Silver Diamond PC (for premium colorant), takes silver to a whole new dimension with an “elegant, liquidy look,” explained Color Designer Jon Hall.

“We’re generally paying more attention to fundamental colors,” Hall said. “They are 60 percent of the global market. Cars and trucks are a major purchase, and customers think of things like resale value and the fact that they want to be seen in the vehicle for the next few years.”

Meanwhile, in other parts of the U.S., customers have different preferences. Red is popular in the Midwest. Drivers in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh like green. And Phoenix and Miami customers like warm colors – orange and gold.

Across the ocean, tastes tend to be equally as diverse: French and Italian motorists like cream-colored vehicles, not a surprise given their café cultures. The Irish like silver. Customers in Denmark prefer black, while those in Belgium like gray.

Vehicle owners everywhere use color choice to convey messages about themselves, says Julie Francis, of the European Color and Materials team.

“There is something very personal to buyers about the color of their cars,” said Francis. “When you look at the culture, you can see how fashion and other tastes influence the colors customers choose.”

Nearly 50 percent of all vehicles sold in Turkey are white. Black is the color of choice for most drivers in Norway, Portugal, Germany and Russia. And, besides Ireland, Romania, Finland, Poland and Sweden chose silver more times than not.

“Red used to be, far and away, the most popular color,” said Vince Show, Marketing and Product Strategy manager for Ford of Europe. “White is in the ascendancy now. Dark grays, blacks and blues are popular, as they are in men or women’s clothing.”

“It’s important to get the right color into the market at the right time,” Swek said. “Too early, and it won’t have registered on customers’ radar. Too late, and the popularity of a particular color may have already reached its peak.” 

These findings are from Ford’s annual look at U.S. car buying preferences as well as an international color study by Du Pont.

(from blueovalnews.com)

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Ford Edge is a Top Safety Pick

April 26, 2011

Raise your hand if you were a kid whose parents let you ride in the very back of the family station wagon on road trips, rolling from side to side during left and right turns. Anyone? All of us? It would have been difficult to imagine back then that there would come a day in which we would be driving vehicles so advanced in safety technology, our days as human cargo would become merely an eye-rolling memory. Times have sure changed – now, driver and occupant safety are a priority for buyers when considering a vehicle purchase.

Those are a priority for Ford too, from bumper to bumper. Ford now has 10 vehicles on the road in the U.S. that have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick rating. Among them is the 2011 Edge (for models built after February 2011).

But a vehicle is not named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS solely for being outfitted with innovative safety equipment. It must receive a rating of “good” from the IIHS in offset frontal-, side- and rear-impact crash tests and roof strength evaluations, as well as offer electronic stability control.

That’s not to say that safety offerings aren’t an important part of the overall package. The cutting-edge driver-aid and safety technologies available for the Edge are striking a chord with buyers. Of the first 101,908 vehicles sold, 80 percent included a rear view camera, while 32 percent included BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System).

Additional safety options for the Edge include Adaptive Cruise Control, which slows the vehicle to adapt for traffic conditions and maintain a preset distance between vehicles. There’s also Collision Warning with brake support, which helps reduce speed, automatically pre-charges brakes, provides a red warning light on the windshield as well as an audible beep to help drivers stop more quickly when the system detects a collision is imminent.

BLIS with cross-traffic alert, helps detect vehicles in blind spots during normal driving, as well as traffic approaching from the sides when reversing out of parking spots. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System alerts drivers when it senses tire pressure is low, while MyKey allows parents to limit speed and audio volume in their vehicles and is designed to help parents encourage safe driving habits in their teens.

The Edge also features a solid unibody construction, which provides an energy-absorbing structure to help protect occupants. Bumper-to-bumper flow-through side rails, structural design and A-pillars are designed to move crash energy away from occupants. Nearly half of the stiff shell is composed of high-strength steels, such as boron, for both increased strength and reduced weight.

When a crash becomes unavoidable, the Edge relies on an array of airbags. Two front dual-stage and two side airbags are joined by a Safety Canopy® consisting of side-curtain airbags for front and rear outboard passengers. Personal Safety System™ safety belts feature pretensioners and an energy management system with adjustable D-ring height in the first row.

The other Ford vehicles that have earned the Top Safety Pick rating are the 2011 models of the Explorer, Taurus, Fusion, Fiesta (when built after July 2010) and Flex as well as the 2011 models of the Lincoln MKS, MKT, MKX and MKZ.

(from thefordstory.com)

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Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX named Top Safety Picks

April 21, 2011

Arlington, Virginia – The 2011 Ford Edge and sister vehicle Lincoln MKX have both been named Top Safety Picks by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The two models earned the award after they improved from “Acceptable” to “Good” for roof strength in rollover crashes.

The award recognizes vehicles that earn the top rating of “Good” for front, side, rollover and rear crash protection, and that have electronic stability control.

In the Institute’s roof evaluation, the Edge’s roof withstood a force equal to 4.7 times its weight. The test assesses how well the occupant compartment would hold up in a rollover crash, with vehicles earning the top rating with a strength-to-weight ratio of four or higher. The current federal standard is 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight.

Previously, Edge and MKX models only supported 3.5 times their weight, and Ford made changes to the roof structures of both vehicles. The Top Safety Pick applies to models built after February 2011.

(from autos.ca)

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New Taurus SHO Inspired by Club Enthusiasts and Customers

April 21, 2011

When it came time to design the 2013 Taurus SHO, Ford asked SHO enthusiasts what they would change from the current model. What those enthusiasts had to say made a difference in the car that was revealed recently at the New York International Auto Show.

“Listening to SHO buyers and enthusiasts encouraged us to strengthen the design and the driving quality for the new 2013 model,” said Gordon Platto, Chief Designer. “For us, this was a clear indication that SHO customers have passionate feelings about aesthetics and design as well as performance.”

Do you have an idea that you’d like to see in the next Taurus SHO or another Ford vehicle? You can submit your idea at theFordStory.com/your-ideas.

SHO dynamics have been enhanced with larger brakes, torque vectoring control – using slight braking to provide the effect of a limited-slip differential – and unique sport-tuned suspension.

Specially calibrated electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) has been further optimized for enthusiast-pleasing road feel and direct, communicative response. In addition to helping Taurus SHO deliver up to 25 mpg highway, EPAS enables the car to park itself with active park assist.

Taurus SHO brake system upgrades include a larger master cylinder, revised booster tuning for improved pedal feel, larger front rotors with 19 percent more thermal mass and 67 percent more swept area to help brakes run cooler. Now vented, the rear disc brakes offer 53 percent more thermal mass.

As with the previous edition, all Taurus SHO models come standard with the award-winning and fuel-efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, delivering 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed high-capacity 6F55 SelectShift Automatic™ transmission. They also feature a standard advanced torque-sensing all-wheel-drive system to help deliver optimum traction in all weather conditions and to enable the vehicle to efficiently deliver ample torque through all four driven wheels when driving in a sporty, enthusiastic manner.

For the new Ford Taurus SHO, subtle differentiation from the other members of the Taurus family starts up front, with a performance-inspired grille in black mesh – unique to the SHO – flanked by series-specific high-intensity discharge headlamps. Behind the front wheel openings, a fender-mounted scallop contains a subtle SHO badge.

Unique 19-inch premium painted wheels wearing standard P255/45VR-19 all-season tires fill out the openings, giving SHO a muscular, athletic look. Buyers can choose 20-inch machined and painted wheels.

SHO-specific sideview mirrors – also in contrasting black – are heated, have memory functionality and contain downward-facing puddle lamps; the driver’s side features auto-dimming. In the rear, Taurus SHO features a unique decklid-mounted spoiler.

Inside, the new Taurus SHO communicates its sporty characteristics with a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-trimmed sport seats with embroidered SHO graphics, unique woven aluminum trim and adjustable aluminum pedals with memory.

Signature Ford technology is also a key attribute of the new Taurus SHO, with the addition of standard MyFord Touch™ powered by SYNC® driver connect technology and the replacement of several traditional knobs and controls with clear, colorful LCD screens and five-way buttons. These screens can be personalized to display information relevant to each individual driver using voice command, a simple button click or touch-screen tap.

Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters enable the Taurus SHO to match revs for smooth, quick, manually selected downshifts. For the new model, these have been reconfigured for more intuitive operation, with one paddle for upshifts and the other for making smooth, matched-rev downshifts.

For the ultimate in driving dynamics, there is also a SHO Performance Package available on the 2013 Taurus SHO. The package includes:

  • Package-specific sport-tuned suspension with unique dampers and springs
  • Performance brake pads and unique track-tuned calipers
  • Recalibrated EPAS
  • Electronic Stability Control track mode with true off
  • 3.16 to 1 final drive ratio for enhanced off-the-line acceleration
  • Enhanced extreme-duty cooling system
  • 20-inch machined and painted wheels
  • 245/YR20 performance summer-compound tires

(from thefordstory.com)

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First Look at the 2013 Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO

April 20, 2011

It’s difficult to pick the most noteworthy feature of the 2013 Ford Taurus, but let’s start with how the flagship sedan manages to make a bit of automotive history: It is the first car in the Ford North America lineup to offer the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost™ engine. Beyond that, the new Taurus also touts improved fuel economy, more smart technology, a fresh look and additional safety features. And did we mention the Taurus SHO is the sportiest model yet to wear the performance badge? But more on that one in a minute.

The 2.0-liter EcoBoost combines a turbocharger with gasoline direct injection, and is expected to deliver best-in-class highway fuel economy of at least 31 mpg, as well as an estimated 237 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. Meanwhile, the standard 3.5-liter V6 is projected to deliver unsurpassed fuel efficiency among V6 segment competitors while still delivering increased performance, with an anticipated 290 horsepower. Both engines are mated to unique six-speed automatic transmissions that offer optimized gear selection for off-the-line power delivery in lower gears, while benefiting fuel economy with higher gears that keep the engine turning efficiently at lower revolutions while cruising.

On the technology front, class-leading offerings include SYNC® with MyFord Touch™, which replaces many traditional buttons, knobs and gauges with clear, colorful LCD screens and steering wheel-mounted five-way toggles. The Taurus is available with a wide variety of audio and navigation connectivity alternatives as well as comfort and convenience options. For example, you might dig the new heated steering wheel, a nice companion to heated and cooled leather-trimmed seats.

For driving performance, the new Taurus utilizes torque vectoring control, which uses a slight – virtually imperceptible to the driver – amount of braking force on the outside front wheel when accelerating through a corner. This minimal brake force provides an effect similar to a limited-slip differential, and the vehicle feels smaller and more maneuverable. The Taurus also adds curve control, a unique Ford braking innovation aimed at slowing the vehicle if it senses that a driver inadvertently enters a curve too quickly. The electric power-assisted steering improves response and feel as well as helps to conserve fuel.

Improving safety of the new Taurus brought enhanced airbag restraints with optimized tethering and venting to specifically tailor deployment force to occupant size, position and seat belt status.

Now, from the see-your-voice-matters department comes the new Taurus SHO. Ford absolutely listened to SHO buyers and enthusiasts to strengthen the design and driving quality of the 2013 model. Fun fact: Roughly half of 2010 SHO customers had not previously considered nor shopped Ford, and frequently it’s high-end sedans – think 3- and 5-Series BMWs and Acura TLs – that are trade-ins.

Giving the SHO a unique look is a performance-inspired grille in black mesh, flanked by series-specific high-intensity discharge headlamps. Behind the front wheel openings, a fender-mounted scallop contains a subtle SHO badge. Unique 19-inch premium painted wheels wearing standard P255/45VR-19 all-season tires fill out the openings; buyers can opt for 20-inch machined and painted wheels. SHO-specific sideview mirrors – also in contrasting black – are heated, have memory functionality and contain downward-facing puddle lamps; the driver’s side features auto-dimming. In the rear, Taurus SHO has a decklid-mounted spoiler.

Performance attributes include the award-winning and fuel-efficient 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, delivering 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed high-capacity 6F55 SelectShift Automatic™ transmission, for up to 25 EPA-rated mpg on the highway.

Steering wheel–mounted paddle shifters enable the Taurus SHO to match revs for smooth, quick, manually selected downshifts. For the new model, these have been reconfigured for more intuitive operation, with one paddle for upshifts and the other for making smooth, matched-rev downshifts. As with the Taurus, the SHO models also feature torque vectoring control. And the new Performance Package includes Electronic Stability Control track mode with true off, performance brakes and track-tuned calipers and a sport-tuned suspension.

When it came to the 2013 Taurus and Taurus SHO, Ford approached the cars’ upgrades with “obsessive attention to detail,” explained Mark Fields, the Ford President of The Americas. “The new Taurus builds on the transformation we achieved in the 2010 model. Delivering so many upgrades so soon further underscores Ford’s leadership and commitment to delivering high-quality, fuel-efficient cars for our customers.”

(from thefordstory.com)

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Ford plans major expansion in China

April 18, 2011

Shanghai, China – Ford will introduce 15 new vehicles in China by 2015 and double its workforce there, as part of its expansion into Asia. The company made the announcement on the eve of the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show.

“Together with our partners, we are leveraging the strength of the One Ford plan and our global platforms to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, reinforcing our commitment to offer a full portfolio of vehicles for our Chinese customers,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. “Our new lineup will significantly strengthen Ford’s penetration in existing segments and drive new growth in others. The 15 new vehicles are part of Ford’s plans to introduce 50 new products and powertrains to the Asia Pacific region by 2015.”

Ford will also more than double the number of dealerships by 2015 from the 340 it has today, and will double the size of its professional workforce by adding 1,200 new jobs.

The first of the 15 new vehicles will be the Ford Focus, which goes into production in China in 2012. A new assembly plant in Chongqing, with an initial capacity of 150,000 units, will be completed next year.

Ford expects 70 per cent of its growth in the next ten years to come from its Asia Pacific and Africa region. In the first quarter of 2011 it sold 140,566 vehicles in China, up 19 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2010.

(from autos.ca)

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Is Your City Ready for Electric Vehicles?

April 15, 2011

Be prepared: It’s the motto of the Boy Scouts, but it seems fairly apropos for metropolitan areas when it comes to accommodating the volume of new electric vehicles on the horizon. And that is exactly why Ford is working with cities around the country to identify ways to prepare for the plug-in vehicles, such as the Focus Electric later this year.

“As more and more electric vehicles come to market, it’s incredibly important that cities develop action plans, including infrastructure development and permitting solutions, to ensure these vehicles are a viable solution for citizens,” said Mike Tinskey, the Ford Manager of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure.

While the existing electric grid has plenty of capacity to support electric vehicles, the key for local utilities will be to offer incentives so customers will charge at night or off-peak times to minimize demand on the grid. There also will need to be an urban planning approach to optimize public/commercial electric vehicle charge locations, meaning they would be used often and be an efficient use of investment dollars. Ford has been encouraged by specialized approaches some cities are taking to support electric vehicles. For example, Boston, New York City and Philadelphia are looking into opportunities to promote travel between the cities by electric vehicle. Additionally, each city is hiring an electric vehicle policy coordinator to help improve efficiency of the permitting processes.

Other proactive steps Ford has identified with cities and utility partners are a streamlined permitting and inspection process to support customer and commercial electric vehicle infrastructure installation, and integrated advisory committees with participation from electric utilities, vehicle manufacturers and dealers, municipalities, electric vehicle customers and local coalitions.

Other metropolitan areas working with Ford in electric vehicle preparation are Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, as well as Sacramento, CA; Hartford, CT; Charlotte and Raleigh, NC; and Richmond, VA. “Ford continues outreach with cities across the country to spread best practices and work with multiple partners including local utilities, auto manufacturers, technology companies and others to support a successful integration of electric vehicles,” Mike added.

Offering a range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs; electrification is also an important element in the overall product sustainability strategy. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will follow that with five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013, including the C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

(from thefordstory.com)