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Ford Sales, Earnings Fall Short for First Quarter

Detroit maker hurt by problems in Europe, slow U.S. rollout of F-150.

by on Apr.28, 2015

Ford CEO Mark Fields remains optimistic about the maker's expectations for all of 2015.

Hurt by weak sales in Europe, the slow ramp-up of its new F-150 pickup at home, as well as the strong dollars, Ford Motor Co. delivered a weaker-than-expected showing for the first quarter of 2015, earnings off 6.5%, to $924 million.

That worked out to just 23 cents a share, the Detroit maker reported, down from 25 cents a year ago. The consensus estimate on Wall Street was 26 cents per share, according to both Fact Set and Thomson Reuters. Revenues also fell short, at $31.8 billion, down from $33.9 billion a year ago.

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Nonetheless, CEO Mark Fields declared that 2015 will be a “breakthrough year,” adding in a statement that the first quarter, a good start to a year in which our results will grow progressively stronger as the new products we have been launching start to pay off.”

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Ford Recalls 390K Vehicles for Door Latch Problem

Latest action puts number at 1.4 million with latch issues.

by on Apr.27, 2015

Ford is recalling 2012-2104 Fiestas for door latch problems. The maker has recalled 1.4 million vehicles due to latch issues.

Ford continues to battle problems with door latches recalling 390,000 late model Fiestas, Fusions and MKZs.

Door latch problems have been a running dilemma for the automaker and the latest action raises the total number of vehicles recalled for them to 1.4 million.

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Ford’s latest recall covers 389,585 2012-14 Ford Fiesta and 2013-14 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars with 337,000 of those vehicles in the U.S., 30,000 in Canada and the remainder in Mexico. (more…)

Chinese Turn Car Clones into High Art

Copycat makers often outsell the originals.

by on Apr.24, 2015

No, that's not a $475,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

That may look, at first glance, like a vanity license plate on a Rolls-Royce Phantom, but take another glance and you might be in for a surprise. You’re actually looking at a Geely GE, a Chinese knock-off that has closely copied the classic Rolls grille and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament – but which goes for a fraction of the original’s $475,000 price.

Automakers from around the world put their latest wares on display at this month’s Shanghai Motor Show. But a walk down the hall revealed that local Chinese automakers already had fresh copies of a number of the hottest products from the U.S., Europe, Japan and Korea.

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While some picked up subtle styling cues and features, others blended attributes from several different models to create weird Franken-cars, like the Suzhou Eagle EV that was one part Porsche Cayman, with a face lifted from a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and a battery-electric drivetrain to make things even weirder.

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Ford Cuts Shift, 700 Jobs, at Key Michigan Plant

Cutbacks spread as American motorists shift from small cars to SUVs.

by on Apr.24, 2015

The Ford Focus has been losing momentum despite receiving some updates for 2015.

Weak passenger car sales have prompted Ford Motor Co. to eliminate a shift at a Michigan assembly line that builds compact and battery vehicles, including the Focus and Focus EV.

With gasoline prices dropping to their lowest level in years, demand for SUVs has been rising while prompting a sharp slide in sales of smaller and alternative-fuel vehicles, like this built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. The announcement, which will impact 700 Ford workers, comes on top of General Motors’ decision to temporarily idle production of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid at a plant nearby.

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“Ford will be working to redeploy affected hourly employees (affected by the cuts) and they will be considered first for southeast Michigan opportunities as they become available,” the automaker said in a statement.

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Ford Plants to Boost Use of Carbon Fiber

Lightweight material could play major role in tomorrow’s cars.

by on Apr.20, 2015

The new Ford GT makes extensive us of carbon fiber.

When Ford’s new GT supercar makes its way into production next year it will make extensive use of super-light carbon fiber.

Until now, advanced composites have had only limited application in the auto industry because of their cost and the manufacturing challenges they pose. But as part of a new joint venture, Ford says it hopes to find ways to put carbon fiber into more mainstream applications going forward.

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“Automotive manufacturers’ use of carbon fiber composites has been hindered by the absence of both high-volume manufacturing methods and affordable material formats,” said Mehmet Ali Berkman, vice chairman of DowAska, which is itself a partnership of Dow Chemical and the Turkish firm Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii.

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Ford Unveils New Taurus at Shanghai Motor Show

But no plans to bring “premium business sedan” to the U.S.

by on Apr.20, 2015

Ford debuted a new Taurus for sale in China only. The larger Taurus is designed to accommodate Chinese buyers who sit in the back while using a driver.

Ford has lifted the covers on a new version of its big Taurus. But in a significant move, it is describing the model on display at this week’s Shanghai Motor Show as a “new premium business sedan for China.”

That translates from Mandarin to mean that American buyers almost certainly will not see the new Taurus design come to the U.S. – at least not any time soon considering the weak market here for full-size vehicles. The Ford sedan is one of several large new models debuting in Shanghai – a list including the Volkswagen C Coupe – that will not make it the States.

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But while the maker stressed in a release that the new Taurus is “designed especially to meet the needs of the Chinese market,” John Lawler, the chairman and CEO of Ford China insists the big sedan “shows the amazing strength and flexibility of our One Ford plan.” (more…)

Ford Confirms $2.5 Bil Investment in Mexico

Michigan maker to build engines, transmissions at new facilities.

by on Apr.17, 2015

Ford announced today it will be investing $2.5 billion in Mexico on two plants to increase its engine and transmission production.

After a couple of days of declining to comment about the possibility, Ford officials today announced they are spending $2.5 billion to build two new plants in Mexico to build engines and transmissions.

“Ford is making a significant commitment to our business in Mexico with investment in two new facilities, while aiming to make our vehicles even more fuel-efficient with a new generation of engines and transmissions our team in Mexico will build,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas.

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“These new engines and transmissions will help deliver even better driving experiences and fuel economy gains for customers around the world.” (more…)

Ford, Toyota to Invest Combined $3.5 Bil in Mexico

Makers join growing list of makers expanding ops South of the Border.

by on Apr.15, 2015

Toyota confirms it will build the next-generation Corolla model at a new plant in Mexico.

Following announcements of major investments in both Mexico and India, Ford Motor Co. is set to make a $2.5 billion bet closer to home. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Co. has confirmed recent reports that it will invest $1 billion in a new Central Mexican plant to produce its compact Corolla model.

Toyota and Ford will join a growing list of manufacturers either entering or expanding operations in Mexico which is now one of the world’s largest producers of automobiles. That includes carmakers from Europe, Asia and Detroit, as well.

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While Ford is not officially confirming the announcement — stating it “cannot comment on future product or manufacturing plans” – Toyota North American CEO Jim Lentz said the new Corolla plant is part of a “strategic re-thinking of how and where we build our products will create new opportunities for our company, our business partners and our team members across the region.”

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Car as Art: Automakers Redesign the Bicycle, Sofa – Even the Sandwich

Makers show their artistic side at Italian fashion event.

by on Apr.14, 2015

Ford's design team created non-automotive products based on the GT. The best designs, including this guitar, are on display at the Salone del Mobile in Italy.

It’s not unusual for car aficionados to claim that cars are art. In fact, top auto designers usually attend the world’s best design schools before they are scooped up by auto companies.

While most of the time, their creativity shows up atop four wheels, this week artists from Ford, Mazda and Mini are displaying their artistic creations at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy.

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Ford designers were challenged by the maker’s creative chief, Moray Callum, to produce non-automotive projects for the show. (more…)

Ford Patents 11-Speed Automatic

How many gears are too many?

by on Apr.13, 2015

Cheryl Simpson, an employee at Ford's Van Dyke Transmission Plant, builds a six-speed transmission. Ford filed a patent for an 11-speed transmission.

You can never be too thin, too rich…or have too many gears, it seems.

Even as it moves ahead on a joint venture developing a 10-speed automatic transmission, Ford has been granted a patent for a new design that would use 11 gears.

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That might come as a shock to older motorists who remember the long-running debate over the need to upgrade to four- or five-speed gearboxes. But carmakers are racing to add ever more gears to their transmissions as they struggle to meet tough new fuel economy and emissions standards. (more…)