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Kuzak, Booth Stepping Down at Ford but Mulally Says “No Plans to Retire.”

Shake-up to have no impact on One Ford strategy.

by on Feb.09, 2012

Ford's Derrick Kuzak oversaw the unusual step of announcing a joint venture with Toyota -- whose Takeshi Uchiyamada is shown here.

Two of the most senior and respected members of the Ford Motor Co. management team will retire, the maker announced this morning, but CEO Alan Mulally stressed that he himself has “no plans to retire,” and insisted the executive shake-up will have no measurable impact on the way the Detroit maker operates.

Nonetheless, the 65-year-old Mulally made it clear that he is quietly grooming the next generation of Ford managers, including the executive who will eventually succeed him.

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This morning’s announcements involve a number of senior members of Ford’s management – but also sees a new name join the group, the company’s Board of Directors electing former Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman to their ranks.


First Look: Lincoln MKZ Concept

The eagle spreads its wings.

by on Jan.10, 2012

A concept version of the new Lincoln MKZ debuts in Detroit prior to its official launch mid-year.

Can this eagle spread its wings for Lincoln?

Once one of the dominant brands in the huge U.S. luxury market, Lincoln is little more than an after-thought for most of today’s buyers, trailing far behind dominant marques like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus – never mind its long-time domestic rival, Cadillac.

But Ford Motor Co. is hoping to put its high-line brand back on the radar screen with the upcoming launch of an all-new MKZ sedan – which debuted in concept form at the 2012 North American International Auto Show this week.

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Like the production version, which will be revealed in a couple months, the MKZ prototype is a dramatic and transformational vehicle that abandons many of the familiar Lincoln cues, starting with the marque’s familiar waterfall grille. Instead, it offers a distinctive shape literally topped by an industry-first convertible glass roof. The overall look, suggests designer Max Woolf, was inspired by an eagle spreading its wings.


Senior Auto Execs See EV Spending on the Rise, Despite Slow Sales

But fuel cells remain on the radar, too.

by on Jan.06, 2012

The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

Despite clear concerns, even outright misgivings, auto industry leaders expect to see a steady ramp-up in spending on automotive electrification in the years ahead, that money going to everything from motors to battery packs and other technologies.

But the survey by consulting firm KPMG expects a relatively slow rise in the actual sales of electric vehicles, the various technologies such as hybrids, plug-ins and full battery-electric vehicles (or BEVs) expected to account for barely 15% of the overall market by 2025.

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And the survey finds industry leaders plan to hedge their bets by exploring alternatives to electrification.  Fuel cell technology, for one, is expected to see increased investment according to 65% of those who participated in the study.  But, significantly, the executives still believe that the greatest potential will come from optimizing the time-tested internal combustion engine.

“What’s interesting is that automakers are placing bets across the board, and large bets at that, because no one knows which technology will ultimately win the day with consumers,” added Gary Silberg, KPMG’s national automotive industry leader.


First Look: Ford EcoSport

Will Ford eventually bring mini-crossover to U.S.?

by on Jan.04, 2012

The Ford EcoSport crossover shares platforms with the subcompact Fiesta model.

Ford is offering a first glimpse of a new mini-crossover that will share platforms with the maker’s global subcompact, the Fiesta.

Dubbed the Ford EcoSport, the new model made its formal debut this week at Auto Expo 2012, the big Indian motor show in New Delhi.  Underscoring the significance of the new model was the fact that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was personally on hand to lift the covers.

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“The all-new Ford EcoSport reflects our commitment to serve our customers with the cars and trucks they truly want and value,” said the 66-year-old executive.

The latest example of the so-called One Ford strategy – which calls for using common platforms and body “top hats” for markets around the world – the EcoSport is primarily aimed at what Ford describes as “major worldwide growth markets,” notably including India, China and Brazil.


Ford Insists its Battery Cars Will be Safe

Maker has taken added steps to prevent post-crash fires.

by on Dec.14, 2011

A Ford Focus Electric using a high-speed charger.

Clearly concerned by the controversy that’s erupted over fires involving the Chevrolet Volt’s lithium-ion batteries, Ford Motor Co. officials pointedly stressed that they have gone to extremes to ensure there won’t be problems when they launch an array of lithium-powered products in the coming year.

Ford provided an inside look at their “electrified” line-up today, a mix of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that the maker hopes will position it as one of the leaders in the growing green automotive niche.

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“The goal is to focus on affordable, sustainable technologies, not for 100s of customers or thousands, but for millions,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development chief, who added that the maker “will triple the production capacity for electrified vehicles to 100,000 by 2013.”


Updated MKS, MKT Only Begin Lincoln Makeover

Real change comes in January with next-gen Lincoln MKZ.

by on Nov.18, 2011

The transformation of Lincoln design gets underway with the LA unveiling of the 2013 MKS.

Hoping to turn its long-lagging Lincoln brand into a serious luxury contender, the upscale Ford division brought two important updates to the L.A. Auto Show that mark what officials call “truly the beginning” of Lincoln’s transformation.

The updates to the 2013 Lincoln MKS and MKT are relatively modest, with the sedan and crossover getting updates fascias and grilles, new wheels and modest improvements in performance and fuel economy. They’re also getting the updated versions of the MyLincolnTouch systems designed to address criticism of the infotainment technology.

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But company officials confirmed that the big news for Lincoln won’t be revealed until January at the North American International Auto Show. has learned that the centerpiece will be an all-new version of the Lincoln MKZ. The brand’s entry-luxury sedan will get an all-new look showcasing Lincoln’s new design language.  And, among other things, Lincoln will abandon its well-known “waterfall” grille.  The maker is also working on an all-glass roof that can operate like a convertible top, as well.

“This is truly marking the beginning” for Lincoln’s design renaissance, said Max Wolff, the brand’s chief designer, following the debut of the new MKS and MKT models.


All-New Ranger Debuting – But Not In U.S.

Ford’s Kuzak sees V6 F-150 as American alternative.

by on Sep.20, 2010

A first teaser shot of the Ford Ranger grille. The pickup debuts in Australia next month.

Ford is rolling out an all-new Ranger but if you want one in the U.S. or Canada, you’re out of luck.

“There are no plans for that at this time,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of global product development.

The redesigned Ranger, which has only been seen hidden by camouflage, will debut October 15 at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The small hauler will be sold in 180 countries.


“The new Ranger is our global compact pickup truck that serves the world,” Kuzak said. “It’s an all-new truck with new powertrains that promise truck leadership in markets outside of North America.”