Archive for May, 2011

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car adds Ford F-150 EcoBoost models to Canadian fleet

May 30, 2011

The Dearborn, Mich., company says it plans to introduce eight new models in India by 2015.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has announced the addition of the fuel-efficient 2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost pickup trucks to its Canadian fleet, which already includes thousands of hybrids, in an effort to offer the largest fuel-efficient fleet in the industry.
Starting now, consumers can rent the truck at more than 450 locations across the country and enjoy terrific hauling and towing capabilities without having to spend too much at the pump.

The F-150 EcoBoost uses a 3.5-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It delivers the performance of a V8 with the enhanced fuel efficiency of a regular V6.

(from auto123.com)

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U.S. unveils new fuel economy labels

May 26, 2011

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. government has unveiled new fuel economy labels that provide more comprehensive information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, and information on the vehicle’s environmental impact. The labels are the most dramatic overhaul to the label program since it began more than 30 years ago.

The new labels were unveiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Starting with model-year 2013, the improved labels will be required on all new passenger cars and trucks, both conventional gasoline models and “next generation” cars such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

The labels are the result of a 2010 fuel economy rule, developed with input from major automakers, environmental groups and individual states, intended to dramatically increase the energy efficiency of cars and trucks built in model years 2012 through 2016. Over the life of the program, the new ruling is expected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and the average consumer US$3,000 in fuel costs.

In July, the government plans to finalize the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 to 2018. It is also developing the next generation of joint fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger vehicles 2017 through 2025, and is expected to announce the proposal in September 2011.

The new labels are mandated for 2013 models but automakers may voluntarily adopt them for 2012 vehicles. For the first time, the labels will provide:

– New ways to compare energy use and cost between conventional and electric cars.

– Useful estimates on how much consumers will spend or save on fuel over the next five years compared to the average new vehicle.

– Easy-to-read ratings of how a model compares to all others for smog emissions and pollution that contributes to climate change.

– An estimate of how much fuel or electricity it takes to drive 100 miles (160 km).

– Information on the driving range and charging time of an electric vehicle.

(from autos.ca)

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Could Your Vehicle Seat Predict a Heart Attack?

May 25, 2011

When it comes to dangers on the road, we’re going to guess you immediately think of people who aren’t paying attention because they are texting while driving, distracted by who knows what or the like. What probably doesn’t come to mind at first is that the driver next to you could suddenly suffer a heart attack. You’re welcome for that ray of sunshine today.

But there is indeed a bright spot: Engineers at Ford have developed a prototype car seat that uses electrocardiograph (ECG) technology to monitor the heart’s electrical impulses and detect signs of irregularity, resulting in an early warning that a driver should seek medical assistance, such as for a heart attack, high blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances or other cardiovascular issue.

Now, don’t imagine having to add 15 minutes to your commute in order to attach metal electrodes all over your skin before you can start the engine. Rather, this ECG seat has six built-in sensors that can detect heart activity through clothing. The sensors pick up the electrical impulses generated by the heart, turning them into signals that can be analyzed by medical experts or computer software.

Engineers from the Ford European Research Center in Aachen, Germany, working closely since 2009 with Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen University, which developed contactless ECG technology, embarked on the project to address this often overlooked traffic safety issue – accidents triggered by drivers who experience heart problems.

Research by the Impaired Motorists, Methods of Roadside Testing and Assessment for Licensing project, a three-year European Union research program, found that drivers suffering from cardiovascular disease were, on average, 23 percent more likely to be involved in an accident. For drivers who suffered from angina, this figure grew to 52 percent.

Yet you’re probably thinking, when you’ve seen people in a movie having a heart episode, they’re not exactly calm, cool or collected, so you figure in the real world, a driver wouldn’t put on a turn signal, check for traffic and maneuver gracefully to the side of the road. Here’s where things get even more interesting: Ford is also testing the prototype seat to understand how it could work with other advanced systems within Ford vehicles to warn a driver to pull over and seek medical attention, possibly mitigating the consequences of a driver losing control, or even send out an alert to emergency medical workers if necessary. Connected to a system such as Ford SYNC® with MyFord Touch™, the seat potentially could use the driver’s mobile phone to send a message to medical centers, alerting doctors to irregular heart activity. The seat also could be linked through SYNC to inform emergency response teams of the driver’s heart condition before, during and after an accident.

Engineers also are studying how the seat might be used to observe heart patients and allow doctors to maintain a record of heart activity that could be transmitted to medical professionals and reduce the need for visits to the hospital.

In early tests, the heart-monitoring seat has recorded accurate readings during 98 percent of driving time for 95 percent of drivers. Ford research engineers are continuing to study how sensors can be made to record signals through a greater number of materials including those that interrupt readings with their own electrical activity. The technology could initially be of most benefit to drivers known to have heart conditions, primarily those in more mature age groups.

(from thefordstory.com)

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Changan Ford Launches 2011 Ford Fiesta in China

May 24, 2011

CHONGQING, China, May, 2011Changan Ford has introduced the 2011 Fiesta to strengthen its product line-up in China, with prices ranging from 79,900 RMB (12,198 USD) to 112,900 RMB (17,236 USD).
“The Ford Fiesta has won the hearts and minds of Chinese consumers since the introduction of the car in March 2009. It is fashionable and exciting to look at, and great to drive. Moreover, it is equipped with innovative technologies that deliver great fuel efficiency with class-leading 5-star C-NCAP safety,” said Marin Burela, president of Changan Ford Mazda Automobile.
Featuring a series of upgrades and quality improvements, Ford’s hot-selling Fiesta will deliver more than just great looks and good fuel economy to better meet the needs of young Chinese consumers and solidify its reputation as a trend-setter in the small car segment.
The Fiesta’s design has been further enhanced with a choice of two vivid new colours: Blush and Colorado Red. The new Fiesta Sport+ hatchback, with a 1.5L engine and automatic transmission, has been added to the 2011 Ford Fiesta line, with an exclusive coffee-coloured interior. The new Sport+ features redesigned 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels and a leather-covered steering wheel for a sporty, high-quality feel.
The 2011 Fiesta offers world-class safety in a small car by leveraging Ford’s global engineering tools and advanced safety technologies. More than 50 percent of the body structure is constructed with high-strength steel. These components add rigidity and save weight, increasing structural efficiency while also helping to maximise fuel efficiency. Safety is also enhanced by an array of features including six airbags, ABS and a rear parking sensor.
as Ford’s first global car, the Fiesta has achieved brilliant results across all major markets with global sales of 1.35 million units since its introduction in October 2008. In China, sales of the Ford Fiesta have already reached 140,000 units since its launch in March 2009.
Accompanying the launch of the 2011 Ford Fiesta was the unveiling of the “Fiesta Zone” website on May 18, http://www.ford-fiesta.com.cn. It is designed as a social network based on Fiesta’s bold and stylish product positioning, and a clearinghouse that provides entertainment updates and product-related information. Netizens can use the site to access information and exciting videos about Fiesta products and participate in exciting Fiesta games. It is a virtual Fiesta world for young Chinese drivers!

(from blueovalnews.com)

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Motoring Memories: Ford Cortina, 1963-1973

May 20, 2011

The Ford Motor Company of England’s first “captive imports” that came to North America shortly after the Second World War were pretty primitive machines. Upright styling, leaf spring front suspension, mechanical brakes and tiny long stroke, side-valve engines that gave very modest performance made those little late 1940s Anglias and Prefects only marginally suitable for our driving conditions.

But new post-war designs soon appeared, and cars like the 1951 Ford Consul, six-cylinder Zephyr and more powerful Zodiac were thoroughly modern cars that kept up with normal traffic and carried five/six passengers. They also brought us a couple of engineering breakthroughs: MacPherson strut front suspension and suspended pedals, both of which would eventually sweep the industry. They were also the first Fords with overhead valves and 12-volt electrics.

The smaller Anglia and Prefect were also modernized with new styling and a short stroke, overhead valve four that would prove robust and almost infinitely expandable. It would establish an enviable reputation in sedan and open wheel racing and in various displacements powered a variety of Ford cars, including the Cortina.

The original Cortina, originally the Consul Cortina, arrived in the fall of 1962 as a 1963 model. It drew some components from the Anglia such as the four-cylinder engine with its stroke increased from 48.3 mm (1.90 in.) to 58.2 mm (2.29 in.), which enlarged displacement from 1.0 to 1.2 litres. But even with the longer stroke, a bore and stroke of 81 X 58.2 mm (3.19 X 2.29 in.) was still very oversquare. The Anglia also contributed its four-speed, floor-shifted transmission.

The Cortina came initially as a 4/5 passenger two-door sedan and was soon expanded to four doors and a station wagon. Styling was pleasant and straightforward, with generous windows providing good visibility.

Performance was modest, though comparable with other small cars of the day. Its 53 horsepower could accelerate the 805 kg (1,775 lb) two-door to 96 km/h (60 mph) in 24.4 seconds (Road & Track 2/’63). The most popular small car of that period, the Volkswagen (Beetle), took 27.7 seconds (R&T 12/’60). The Cortina’s top speed was 121 km/h (75 mph), the VW’s, 115 km/h (71.4 mph).

While R&T was favourably impressed by the Cortina, they noted the shortcoming that plagued most small cars of that era: low gearing. At a normal 96 km/h (60 mph) cruise the Cortina’s four was buzzing at 3,800 rpm, while at a not unusual 113 km/h (70 mph) it was straining at more than 4,400.

(from autos.ca)

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New Ford Focus ST on Track: Prototype Testing Underway from California Freeways to German Nürburgring

May 19, 2011
  • Development of Ford’s sporty new Focus ST is on track as engineers put prototypes through punishing regime to hone performance and driving dynamics
  • New 2.0-litre EcoBoost-powered Focus ST targets both 250 PS (246 hp) and impressive fuel economy
  • Focus ST, Ford’s first global performance car, goes on sale next year

COLOGNE, Germany, May, 2011 – If a new Ford Focus with an eye-catching paint job, ground-hugging suspension, big wheels and tyres and a tell-tale central rear double exhaust passes you on the autobahn or freeway, chances are you have seen one of the development prototypes for the all-new high-performance Focus ST launching next year.

In Europe and North America, Ford’s Team RS and SVT engineering teams are putting a fleet of around 60 pre-production prototypes through a punishing regime of testing and development to fine-tune the car’s driving dynamics and performance. The prototypes are based on standard new Focus vehicles and, in some cases, prior-generation Focus ST models.

“The new Focus ST is eagerly awaited around the world, which is appropriate as this is our first global performance model,” said Jost Capito, Ford’s director of Global Performance Vehicles. “It must live up to Ford’s reputation for producing affordable yet exciting and sporty versions of its smaller cars that reward and delight enthusiast drivers, but can also be used every day.

“We’ve done all the engineering groundwork, and now we’re using some of the most demanding roads we can find in Europe and North America to validate and fine tune the performance and driving dynamics.”

The new Focus ST will be powered by a high-performance version of Ford’s new 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, targeting an exhilarating 250 PS (246 hp), while still delivering significantly better fuel economy than the previous generation Focus ST sold in Europe.

“Fuel efficiency is a key leadership target for Ford Motor Company globally. We want to be class-leading even with a performance vehicle, so we’re working on getting the best possible blend of high performance and fuel economy from the new ST,” said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer, Global Performance Products, Ford of Europe.

Recently, the development team completed demanding cold weather testing in northern Europe, as well as exacting tests and exercises to refine steering performance.

“We’re sweating all the details – fine-tuning, testing, and fine tuning again many of the small but critical details to make sure it is worthy of the ST badge,” Tonn said. “We will build upon and improve the ride, steering and handling strengths that defined the current European Focus ST.”

With the new Focus ST, a key focal point for the Ford development team is to deliver an even more engaging driver experience, from its highly tuned Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system to uniq ue, driver-orientated seats.

“The seats and seating position were very good in the previous Focus ST, but the new model is sleeker and the driver will sit lower. The new seats which will provide even more support,” Tonn said.

The all-new Focus ST is Ford’s first global performance car, conceived under the One Ford strategy. It brings the ST performance badge to North American and Asian customers for the first time.

“For enthusiasts in North America and Asia who have asked why our compact performance models were not available to them, well, the wait is almost over,” Capito said. “The new Focus ST will offer exactly the same exciting driving experience wherever it’s on sale.

“Like the Focus ST and RS models before it, the new Focus ST’s final set-up will be achieved after painstaking tuning on some of the most demanding roads we can find from California to the Nürburgring, and from high-speed German autobahns to classic British B-roads,” Capito added. “Keep your eyes open for our prototypes as we work on delivering a Focus ST driving experience that will delight performance car fans around the world.”

(from blueovalnews.com)

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Ford invests in its India plant

May 18, 2011

Chennai, India – Ford is investing US$72 million to expand its powertrain facility in India. The engine plant’s production capacity will increase from 250,000 diesel engines per year to 330,000 per year, with a third production shift added.

The expansion program will be completed in mid-2012 and will bring Ford’s total investment in India to more than $1 billion.

“This investment reinforces the importance of our Chennai plant and Ford’s continued expansion in India,” said Michael Boneham, president and managing director of Ford India. “This expansion will allow us to provide more technologically advanced and fuel-efficient engines to our customers in India and in markets around the world where we export Chennai-built vehicles.”

Ford plans to introduce eight new global vehicles in India by 2015. The plant built its 100,000th engine in March 2011, just 14 months after it opened for operations in January 2010. It is the first Ford facility to feature a single flexible production line manufacturing both gasoline and diesel engines, and the first to run a flexible crankshaft production line producing parts for both types of engines.

The plant currently produces five gasoline engines and one diesel engine and is gearing up to produce powertrains for the Fiesta sedan when it launches in India later this year.

(from autos.ca)