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Ford May Cut Production as Chinese Car Market Falters

Domestic Chinese makers gaining ground on foreign rivals.

by on May.26, 2015

Ford recently unveiled its Focus ST in China.

With the economy faltering, the Chinese car market is growing at its slowest rate in 15 years – and Ford Motor Co. says it may respond by trimming production in the once-booming China.

That would be a sudden shift in direction for Ford which, only two months ago, announced the opening of a major new plant in Hangzhou, part of its plan to double production capacity in the populous Asian market to 1.2 million vehicles annually.

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“If there is softness in the market, I won’t let stocks build and we’ll cut production,” said David Schoch, president of Ford Asia Pacific. So far, he added, “We have had some production cuts, but it’s nothing material.”

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Twist of a Knob to Make Towing a Trailer Easier with 2016 Ford F-150

New technology modeled on parking assist system.

by on May.21, 2015

Ford is introducing its ProTrailer Assist technology that makes it easier for drivers to back up with a trailer hitched to the truck.

With Memorial Day ushering in the official start of the summer season, expect to see more and more people towing boats and trailers – and to hear more motorists cussing as they struggle to hitch up and move those trailers.

The process can be a frustrating chore, especially for novices, but Ford Motor Co. promises to make it a bit easier with the addition of its new “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” system which will make its debut on the 2016 version of the full-size F-150 pickup. And all it will take is the twist of a knob.

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“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers,” said Doug Scott, marketing manager, Ford Truck Group. “Instead of struggling to back up their trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.” (more…)

Spy Shots: Ford Super Duty Goes Aluminum, Too

But wait – there’s more.

by on May.13, 2015

Ford's 2016 F-Series Super Duty in full disguise, although some changes can be seen on this version.

Almost lost in the fanfare surrounding the debut of the all-new, “aluminum-intensive” 2015 Ford F-150 has been the fate of the Super Duty models to follow. While the light-duty F-150 may make up the majority of the sales, the heftier F-250, F-350 and even bigger trucks have a significant following, as well, and appeal to buyers who make some tough demands.

No surprise, then, that Ford is taking a little longer to roll out their replacements. But if anyone is still wondering, they, too, will migrate from steel to aluminum when they make it to market for the 2016 model-year.

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A closer look at these photos of the 2016 F-250 prototypes shows some major (how major can you get in a pickup’s design?) changes are coming in the big boys from Ford. For one, the grille is more detailed in appearance with multiple horizontal bars above and below the centered Blue Oval icon. At the bottom is a redesigned – flattop – bumper and square corner air deflector. (more…)

Spy Shots: 2016 Ford Fusion

by on May.11, 2015

Ford doesn't plan to tinker too much with the success of its current Fusion design for 2016.

Few cars have scored such a big hit with an all-new design as the 2013 Ford Fusion. With its coupe-like silhouette and Aston-influenced grille, the sedan helped put Ford back on the list of serious midsize contenders. It even forced Toyota, long proud of its plain vanilla designs, to get serious about styling with the 2015 mid-cycle refresh of its Camry model.

Don’t expect to see anything nearly as radical from Ford next year. In the old days, they called what’s coming for Fusion a mid-cycle “refresh,” but this facelift is modest, at most, and really little more than a nose job.

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What you can see, and what you will get is an almost carryover body for the upcoming midsize Ford, including same-same in roof, doors, hood and other major body panels. Changes to the headlights, taillights and rear bumper might be modest enough to be missed by anyone but an owner of the current Fusion model.

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Ford’s New Shelby 350GT Gets Upgrades

New street-legal, track-ready racer hits new performance level.

by on May.06, 2015

Ford stiffens up the new Mustang's body and gives the GT350 a heavily modified 5.2-liter V-8.

Ford’s Global Performance team has been busy churning out new products, like the Focus RS, as well as upgrading the new Shelby GT350 Mustang making it the best performing version of the street racer yet.

“When we started working on this car, we wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive – challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes, and at the track on weekends,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development.

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“Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant – nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power.” (more…)

Ford Going Mainstream with CNG Version of F-150

High-mileage, low-cost alternative.

by on May.04, 2015

The 2016 F-150 will offer a gaseous-fuel prep option, making it the only light-duty pickup capable of running on compressed natural gas or propane.

Ford Motor Co. will launch a new compressed natural gas version of its F-150 pickup, the first light-duty full-size truck to offer a CNG option.

The alternative fuel has become increasingly abundant thanks to the growth of fracking in the U.S. For cars and trucks, it typically offers lower operating costs – though there is a significant up-front investment, as much as $10,000 on the Ford truck. CNG also allows a buyer to maintain the towing and payload capacity of the F-150, unlike some other options.

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“We surveyed customers likely to use natural gas or propane, and 72% told us they want to have these alternative-fuel capabilities available on F-150 with the 5.0-liter V8 engine,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager. “We expect the gaseous-fuel prep package will be even more popular than it was on the 2014 F-150 with the 3.7-liter V6 engine, given the capability of the 2016 F-150 5.0-liter V8.” (more…)

Ford Recalls Nearly 600K Vehicles

Problems include fuel pumps, steering gears and lights.

by on Apr.29, 2015

The Lincoln MKZ is part of a recall of nearly 520,000 Ford-produced vehicles for steering gear problems.

Ford announced recalls for nearly 600,000 vehicles for a variety problems involving steering gears, fuel pumps and parking lamps.

The automaker is recalling 520,000 2013-15 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles and 2015 Ford Edge vehicles in North America for a steering gear motor attachment issue. The problem is centralized in certain regions where corrosion is a problem. The steering gear motor attachment bolts may fracture due to corrosion. If that occurs, the steering system can default to manual steering mode from power steering making steering very difficult.

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Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this condition. In addition to the problem being regional, it only impacts vehicles built at plants and at certain times. Dealers will replace steering gear motor attachment bolts on customer vehicles with new bolts, seal them, and replace damaged steering gears at no cost to the customer. (more…)

Ford Planning Limited Run of Shelby GT350s

Only 37 track-ready GT350R models to be sold.

by on Apr.29, 2015

Get 'em while you can! Ford's producing just 37 Shelby GT350Rs for 2015.

They’ll be fast on the track, but the 2015 Shelby GT350R could be even faster launching out of the showroom.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Shelby, the maker plans to produce just 37 of the track-ready models in what it calls a tribute to legendary racer and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby.

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Ford also plans a relatively limited run of Shelby GT350s wearing a 2015 badge, commemorating the first model to roll out in January 1965. That original helped transform the image of the first Mustang, and Ford is looking at the latest GT350 as a way to maintain that halo with the all-new pony car that debuted last year. (more…)

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.

(This story has been updated with additional details on Ford’s Q1 earnings and full-year forecast.)

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…)