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Ford Bringing Back GT Racer for Detroit Auto Show

Automaker expected to race new vehicle at LeMans in 2016.

by on Dec.19, 2014

This GT40 Le Mans winner could get a stablemate as Ford is expected to debut a new version at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

Ford GT fans may be getting a post-holiday Christmas gift in January, as the automaker appears to be ready to unveil a GT-inspired supercar during the Detroit Auto Show next month.

The car will be more than just a showpiece, according to AutoWeek, Ford plans to race it at LeMans in 2016. Chip Ganassi will oversee Ford’s new GT supercar’s entry in the GTE class at Le Mans. Additionally, Ganassi will run two cars in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.

The Last Word!

The details about the car are sketchy, but various reports suggest the powerplant will be a mid-engine V8 from the new Shelby GT350 with some tweaks, while others think an EcoBoost V6 will find its way into the new beast. (more…)

Takata Runs Full-Page Ad Claiming It Will Do More

Supplier declines to join Ford to expand recall nationally.

by on Dec.18, 2014

Ford is the latest automaker to expand its recall of Takata airbags from a regional action to a national one.

Beleaguered auto supplier Takata took out full-page ads in several newspapers today saying more must be done to resolve the problem with its airbags, but a national recall of the faulty devices was not the answer.

And then Ford expanded its recall of the airbags to a national action.

A Real Performer!

The ad, which was an open letter from Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada, was published in The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and three German papers. In the letter, Takada, who is the grandson of the company’s founder, outlined what the company was doing to try and rectify the situation, such as increasing the number of replacement parts being manufactured from 300,000 a month to 450,000, asking other airbag suppliers to produce parts and tripling the amount of testing it’s conducting on airbags. (more…)

Ford Stock Taking Hit over Uncertainty Surrounding F-150

Will customers pay for pricey truck innovations with low gas prices?

by on Dec.16, 2014

The all-new Ford F-150 has some Wall Street analysts worried. Ford's stock is down 7.5% this year.

The launch of the new Ford F-150 pickup truck has been giving the Wall Street a case of the jitters ever since it was unveiled at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.

Ford Motor Co. stock tumbled again after an analyst’s note suggested the recent drop in price of oil, which has cut the price of gasoline to the lowest point in five years, might undercut Ford’s the strategy behind the new truck, which is made of aluminum to reduce weight and improve fuel economy.

Power!

In trading Monday, the value of Ford shares dropped 4.7%, to close at $14.28, the lowest since Nov. 10. By way of comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined than 1% (.58%) on Monday, while the Standard & Poors also declined less than 1% (.63%). Ford’s shares are off 7.5% so far this year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen 7.6%. (more…)

Ford Forms New Global Performance Unit

New Focus RS set for global debut next year.

by on Dec.11, 2014

Mustang Chief Engineer Dave Pericak will be the new head of the Ford Performance organization.

Ford Motor will introduce a high-performance RS version of its next-generation Focus line next year, with the maker expected to pull the wraps off the new model at the upcoming 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

The new model will replace the top-performing version of the Focus line that was last produced in 2010 for the European market. Other than saying the new model will be available worldwide, other details are scarce. But the new Focus RS is all but certain to pump up from the 301-horsepower delivered by the old version.

Your High Performance News Source!

The 2016 Ford Focus RS is part of an expanding portfolio of performance products coming from the Detroit Maker, which recently introduced an all-new version of its popular Mustang pony car. And it will be one of the first products to debut under the new Ford Performance organization.

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Ford Wants “Robust” Review of Fuel Economy Rules

Cheap fuel causing shift in consumer demand, warns Ford CEO Fields.

by on Dec.11, 2014

Ford CEO Fields is looking forward to a "robust" debate over the 54.5 mpg CAFE standard.

With gas prices plunging to a national average of barely $2.60 a gallon, there’s been a an equally sharp shift in the U.S. new car market, with dealers struggling to keep up with demand for pickups, SUVs and muscle cars.

Small cars, as well as battery-electric vehicles and other high-mileage models, have been piling up on showroom lots, however, and that’s worrying automakers who fear the shift will make it difficult to meet the tough new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard set to take effect in 2025. And Ford Motor Co., for one may seek to have the CAFE mandate rolled back or revised, the maker’s CEO said Thursday.

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Fuel for Thought!

While insisting the company is “dedicated to meeting” the 54.5 mile per gallon target, Fields said he is also looking forward to 2017 when the feasibility of the standard will come up during a meeting between industry officials and federal regulators.

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$2 mil from Ford Helps Launch New High-Tech Incubator

Searching for “people with the next new, big idea.”

by on Dec.11, 2014

Crisis brings creativity, says CEO Bill Ford.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $2 million, along with partners Verizon and automotive supplier Magna International, to set up a new high-tech incubator in Detroit in a search for companies “with the next new, big idea.”

To be called Techstars Mobility: Driven by Detroit, the new venture is part of a network of incubators that first launched in Boulder, Colorado and has since expanded to 13 other cities, with Detroit now planned as the next to come on line. The program will create a sort of boot camp for high-tech start-ups, mentoring them on basic business practices while nurturing their ideas and helping access sources of funding.

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In the Know!

“We expect hundreds, perhaps thousands, of applications” for the program which will begin next year,” said Techstar founder and CEO David Brown.

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Ford Aims to Speed Up, Simplify with Launch of Sync 3

Maker hopes to overcome problems, increase appeal of third-gen infotainment system.

by on Dec.11, 2014

Ford introduced Sync 3 today. The new infotainment system is supposed to look and act like a smartphone.

Ford Motor Co. has completely redesigned its popular – if oft-criticized – Sync infotainment system, hoping to resolve ongoing problems while expanding the range of features and improving the system’s usability.

During a demonstration at the maker’s suburban Detroit product development center, Ford officials noted that, among other things, the new version of Sync will directly link up with Apple’s voice-activated Siri assistant, while accessing more than 40 cellphone-based apps. Behind the new capacitive touchscreen display, Sync now uses a faster microprocessor – and software developed in partnership with Panasonic, Ford abandoning its earlier alliance with tech giant Microsoft.

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“We tried to make it look and act more like a smartphone,” explained Ford’s Global Product Development Director Raj Nair. (more…)

The Car Key is Becoming an Endangered Species

Keyless systems quickly taking over.

by on Dec.09, 2014

The red key fob unleashes all 707 horsepower in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The black key limits a driver to "just" 500-hp.

Officially, it isn’t a recall, just a technical service bulletin, but whatever General Motors is calling the announcement, dealers have been advised to replace the keys on 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, as well as several other large pickups and SUVs.

Some owners have complained that when they shift gears they can knock the ignition switch out of position – bringing to mind this year’s earlier recall of GM vehicles equipped with defective ignition switches now linked to 38 deaths and 100s of injuries.

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While that has put the spotlight on GM, the maker is just one of several to order recalls in recent years due to key and ignition switch problems – which is adding more momentum to a broad industry shift away from conventional ignition switches to push-button starters.

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Plunging Fuel Prices Could Create Problems for Ford, Says Product Chief

Maker intends to do “the right thing,” but must balance CAFE and consumer demands.

by on Dec.04, 2014

Ford's 2015 F-150 4x2 with Ford’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine has EPA-estimated ratings of 22 mpg Combined.

With gasoline prices plummeting below $3 a gallon in much of the country – and with further cuts expected – American motorists are shifting gears. November’s booming sales numbers were given strong momentum by the resurgent demand for fuel-hungry pickups, SUVs vans and even muscle cars.

Ironically, that’s not entirely good news for automakers like Ford Motor Co. On the positive side, sales of the new 2015 Mustang nearly doubled over last year’s volume, and Ford has a massive backlog of orders for its new F-150 pickup, the most profitable model in its portfolio.

Gain Traction!

But plunging pump prices also create some serious challenges, cautioned Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief.

“Certainly, low fuel prices make it hard to sell some vehicles like hybrids and electrics,” he said during a lunch at the Ford test track near the maker’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Recalls Aside, Automobiles Becoming Safer than Ever

An era of zero fatalities may be within reach.

by on Dec.03, 2014

Volvo's new AstaZero safety proving grounds. The maker wants to see zero deaths in its vehicles.

With a record 54 million vehicles facing recall — and nearly another month to go before the books are closed on 2014 — it’s no surprise American automakers and auto buyers alike have been focused on safety this year.

But despite all the lapses that have seen dozens of deaths from faulty airbags and flawed ignition switches, there’s another side to the story: cars are safer than ever. U.S. highway fatalities are now about 40 percent down from their 1970s peak, even though there are more cars on the road logging more mileage.

A Safe Bet!

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen vehicle safety reach this level before,” contends Raj Nair, global product development director for Ford Motor Co.

The latest vehicles are not only better-equipped to survive crashes but also to avoid them altogether. That’s led several automakers, including both Nissan and Volvo, to declare that they hope to see no deaths occur in the new vehicles they bring to market by the beginning of the next decade.

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