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Ford Focus Gains Traction in China, But 191K Recalled Due Fire Risk

Cracked fuel lines lead to second action on vehicles.

by on Sep.05, 2014

Ford is recalling more than 191,000 Focuses in China due to a fuel line leak that could lead to a fire.

Despite being late to the sales party in China, Ford has been making up for lost time, especially this year as the company – led by the Focus – is expected to sell more than 1 million vehicles.

The automaker, which earlier this year claimed the Focus was the best-selling nameplate in the world, saw its August sales rise 9% with the Focus being the catalyst for that.

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However, the good times may have come to a screeching halt today – one day after it announced its strong sales last month – with the news it is recalling more than 190,000 Ford Focus sedans built from 2009 until now due to fuel leak problems. (more…)

Overseas Markets Clamoring for New Mustang, Ford Officials Claim

Strong demand could see addition of third shift at Flat Rock plant.

by on Aug.29, 2014

Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs poses with the first of the 2015 Mustangs off the line.

The first of the new 2015 Ford Mustangs rolled off the assembly line this week, and though the new pony car won’t go on sale in Europe or Asia until next year, overseas dealers have already snapped up their allocation of the sixth-generation Mustangs, according to Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of The Americas.

The Mustang has traditionally been a car for North America, but it has nonetheless developed a loyal following in markets around the world, with a number of dealers trading in so-called “gray market” exports. That strong following convinced Ford it could start marketing the newly redesigned coupe and convertible pony cars globally.

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“We’re not yet (officially) taking orders in other parts of the world yet because we’re going to start here in North America filling up the pipeline. But we’re seeing very strong demand” in Asia and Europe, Hinrichs told reporters after the ceremony marking the official launch of production of the sixth-generation Mustang, which is being prepared for sales in 120 countries.

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Ford Plant Readies to Meet Global Demand for Mustang

Maker gives nod to original pony car in 2015 model.

by on Aug.28, 2014

Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan, plant is ready to start churning out the 2015 Mustang. The company is celebrating 50 years of Mustang production.

One of the biggest launches in Ford Motor Co.’s recent history is getting underway as the all-new, sixth generation Ford Mustang rolls off the line for the first time at the company’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, this week.

“Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience – one unlike any other.”

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In April, Ford celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang. To commemorate the event, each 2015 model will be adorned with a badge on the instrument panel that includes the galloping pony logo and the words “Mustang – Since 1964.” (more…)

Use of Aluminum to Triple, Says Top Supplier

But soaring demand could also drive up costs.

by on Aug.26, 2014

Ford's new F-150 will be up to 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing pickup truck. Photo credit: Len Katz.

When Ford Motor Co.’s new “aluminum-intensive” F-150 pickup launches production in the coming months it will mark a critical next step in a revolution quite literally reshaping the auto industry, as a growing number of automakers switch from traditional steel to lightweight aluminum.

Most analysts now anticipate a massive shift in materials, and the world’s largest producer of aluminum sheets used for vehicle bodies expects to see demand soar in the near-term – depending on how you measure it, anywhere from 300 to 500%. While that could play out well for consumers, since lighter cars typically use less fuel, it also threatens to push the price of aluminum up, which could translate into higher vehicle costs.

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By 2020, aluminum is expected to make up 25% of total sales for Novelis, Inc., the Atlanta-based manufacturer that is the world’s largest source of aluminum sheets to the auto industry. The auto industry currently uses only 9% of that supply from Novelis which is owned by Hindalco, the world’s largest aluminum sheet supplier, based in Mumbai, India.

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Designers Unleash Love for Mustang

Pony car-inspired shirts give mavens an outlet for affection.

by on Aug.25, 2014

Detroit native Anna Sui created an airbrushed Mustang as one of 15 designs for Mustang Unleashed, a collection of t-shirts.

Buying a 2015 Ford Mustang to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its introduction may be a little unrealistic for most folks, but there is a way to show your ’Stang love for a lot less money: t-shirts.

Ford invited five fashion designers to create Mustang Unleashed, a series of 15 Mustang-inspired t-shirts featuring the legendary pony car in some way or form.

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Anna Sui; Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay-Hahn of Rogan; Paula Cademartori; Tomaso Anfossi and Francesco Ferrari of CO|TE; and Pamela Love are coordinating with Loomstate, an organic and sustainable apparel maker, to design and produce the shirts. (more…)

End of an Era – Ford’s Last Steel-Bodied F-150 Rolls off the Line in Detroit

Ford warning some customers may have to wait for new pickup.

by on Aug.25, 2014

A line worker at the Dearborn Truck Plant polishes paint on the old F-150 pickup.

Ford has crossed the point of no return. But it will be months before it knows if one of the biggest risks in the company’s history will pay off.

Over the weekend, the maker produced the last of its steel-bodied F-150 pickups at its historic Dearborn Truck Plant, crews quickly moving to tear up the line. When they’re done with the costly conversion, the factory will begin producing an all-new aluminum-bodied version of the F-150 that analysts say will either become an industry benchmark or one of the biggest disasters in Ford history.

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The changeover will take about a month, and cost $359 million. Ford is making a similar investment at its truck plant in Kansas City, Missouri, which also will produce the new 2015 F-150. The Kansas City plant will continue producing the old 2014 model through year-end, Ford telling dealers and potential customers it plans to take its time with the changeover to ensure it meets tough quality expectations for the new truck.

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The Green Zone: Ford System Knows When to Switch From Battery to Gas and Back Again

Map-based system also could control transmission, lights and other vehicle functions.

by on Aug.22, 2014

With Ford's Green Zone technology, this hybrid Fusion could run alternately on its battery or its internal combustion engine without any driver input to meet the requirements of the area the car is traveling.

As the Ford plug-in hybrid travels down Village Road, a short distance from the maker’s corporate headquarters, the driver notices a subtle shudder from under the hood. A quick glance down at the instrument panel reveals that the car’s four-cylinder gas engine has shut off, leaving the sedan to run solely on battery power.

A few miles later, the process reverses itself, the car’s engine automatically firing up again as it exits out of an area marked in green on the Fusion’s video navigation screen.

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Though still in the development stage, Ford’s Green Zone system promises to improve the energy efficiency of its battery-based vehicles. It could also help motorists avoid tolls and penalties as a growing number of cities enact restrictions on driving conventionally powered automobiles in inner cities, such as London. The technology also could be used, Ford researchers say, to improve the functionality of other vehicle functions, including headlights and transmissions. (more…)

Ford Plans to Take on Toyota Prius with New Hybrid Line

New “dedicated” hybrid line expected to debut in 2019.

by on Aug.22, 2014

Ford will take dead aim at the segment leader, the Toyota Prius, with its new "dedicated" hybrid.

Already one of the most ambitious players in the battery-based vehicle market, Ford Motor Co. wants to take a run at hybrid market leader Toyota with a new gasoline-electric model it will launch in 2018, according to a new report.

The as yet-unnamed model will be directly targeted at the Toyota Prius, the world’s most popular hybrid-electric vehicle, and will use a dedicated design, unlike other Ford hybrids that are pitched as optional alternatives in conventional vehicles.

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A report by the Reuters news service says the new model will be produced in a plant near Detroit, likely the factory in Wayne, Michigan that currently produces a mix of other Ford battery-cars, including the Focus EV, and the C-Max, which is offered in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations in the U.S.

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Lincoln Adds Sizzle with New Pitchman: Matthew McConaughey

Texan gets multi-year deal to extol virtues of luxury brand.

by on Aug.21, 2014

Lincoln is hoping a new series of ads featuring actor Matthew McConaughey will raise the company's profile and boost sales.

That easy-going twang Americans have heard telling us that beef is what’s for dinner is now hitting the road with Lincoln. Actor Matthew McConaughey inked a multi-year deal to lead a new ad campaign for the struggling luxury brand.

The Texas-born actor known for his good looks and physique leads a new style of advertising for Ford’s luxury unit that focuses on his folksy storytelling style about Lincoln’s attributes. The first set of ads features the new 2015 Lincoln MKC small crossover.

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“Authenticity is a word that kept coming up in our initial meetings. It was clear from the start they appreciated me as an individual first and foremost, and I would be able to be myself in this collaboration,” said McConaughey in a statement. (more…)

Porsche, GMC – and the Chevrolet Corvette – Top 2014 Ideal Vehicle List

GM and Ford score most segment wins.

by on Aug.21, 2014

The new Chevrolet Corvette was the single most "Ideal Vehicle" according to owners.

For the second consecutive year, Porsche has been named the “Ideal Vehicle” brand by American consumers, though the individual vehicle that tops the list is the all-new Chevrolet Corvette.

General Motors, in fact, had more top-ranked models in the 2014 Ideal Vehicle Awards, or IVA, than any other manufacturer but Ford Motor Co. this year. And despite the Detroit maker’s ongoing recall issues, its GMC truck marque was named the “Most Ideal Popular Brand” in a survey conducted by California consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.

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Significantly, a quarter of the top-ranked models in the 2014 IVA are all-new or, like the ‘Vette, have been completely redesigned for 2014.

“Winning an IVA in their first year of release shows that these newly redesigned vehicles have hit the mark with their owners, but it also shows that the designers did their research to know how to best meet the needs and expectations of their core group of buyers,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

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