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Ford Patent Shows How Autonomous Car’s Steering Wheel, Pedals Could Fold Away

Design would allow manual driving or completely driverless operation.

by on Aug.18, 2017

A patent application illustration shows how Ford would hide the controls in driverless mode.

Autonomous vehicles, we’re regularly told, are just around the corner, and fully driverless vehicles will soon follow. Ford, for one, has said it hopes to remove the driver from the picture entirely by 2021.

Now, a patent granted Ford this month reveals that the self-driving cars Ford is working on could give an owner the option to choose which mode it will operate in. Push a button and the steering wheel and pedals fold up and out of sight. Push again and they reappear, allowing manual driving.

Stay in the Loop!

That option may be essential, at least initially, as autonomous vehicle experts warn that coming up with a vehicle that can operate without a driver on all roads and under all conditions, may take years to develop, despite the optimistic prognostications of automakers like Ford, Daimler, Nissan and tech companies such as Google spin-off Waymo.

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Ford Readying Wave of New Products, Says CEO Hackett

Automaker agrees to pay $10 mil to settle harassment claims.

by on Aug.17, 2017

Prior to joining Ford, Jim Hackett was Steelcase CEO and served as Interim U-Michigan Athletic Director.

While Ford has won praise for its push into autonomous vehicles, car-sharing and other futuristic mobility programs, it has also been criticized for a lack of new products today, something CEO Jim Hackett said the Detroit carmaker is addressing.

In an interview with the Associated Press, the former Steelcase chief executive – who took over at Ford following a management shake-up in May – say there is plenty “in the hopper,” though he declined to offer details on what new products are coming. Ford has revealed plans to revive its Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup nameplates, but critics say the carmaker also needs to revitalize its mainstream passenger car and luxury line-ups.

Industry News!

Separately, Ford confirmed Thursday that it will pay up to $10.1 million to settle sexual and racial harassment allegations linked to its two Chicago-area factories. It also will add new training programs for workers at those plants.

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Trump Disbands Economic Councils – Could Impact Auto Industry at Critical Time

GM CEO Barra faced growing pressure to resign in wake of president’s Charlottesville comments.

by on Aug.16, 2017

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier with Pres. Trump before he resigned from the council and found himself rebuked in a presidential tweet.

(This story has been updated to include comments from GM CEO Mary Barra on the closing of the economic councils and the controversy over Charlottesville.)

Turning again to Twitter, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he is disbanding two economic advisory groups formed as he entered the White House last January and originally consisting of some of the nation’s top business leaders.

The move came shortly after the well-publicized resignation of an eighth council member, 3M CEO Inge Thulin. While some of the business leaders had resigned earlier in the year, the exodus had ramped up in recent days following a series of controversial remarks the president made regarding the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia as neo-Nazis, KKK members and other White Supremacists marched through the city.

The Inside Story!

Other members of the council faced increasing pressure to resign, as well, including Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors. But several industry insiders said Barra, in particular, faced a perplexing situation. The Trump Administration is considering several measures – including a possible rollback of mileage standards, and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement – that could have substantial impact on GM. As part of the two councils, Barra had unusually good access to the president.

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Pushing the Limits in the 2018 Ford F-150 Limited

Review: We put Ford's work and luxury truck through its paces.

by on Aug.14, 2017

It can be a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

It’s confession time: few things scare me more than having to back up a trailer – like the one carrying the big boat I was to drive down the ramp and load into Portage Lake last Friday.

It takes confidence, patience and skill to avoid doing some serious damage, or at least embarrassingly yourself in front of the folks watching as you slip into reverse. Alternatively, it helps to have a Ford F-150 pickup equipped with the maker’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist system, something that makes the process about as simple as playing a videogame.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Pro Trailer Assist was one of a handful of features I got to try this past week while checking out the newly updated 2018 Ford F-150. My mule for the day: a fully loaded 4×4 version of the 3.5-liter Limited Crew Cab edition, at $64,440 – plus $1,295 in destination fees – one of the most lavishly equipped and expensive half-ton pickups on the market.

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More Power, Better Mileage, More Features – Ford Wants to Expand F-Series’ Lead

Add some subtle design tweaks for 2018.

by on Aug.14, 2017

The 2018 Ford F-150 gets a slew up updates under the hood and on the outside.

If you’re a fan of Ford’s F-150 you’ll quickly spot some changes for 2018, starting with the new “C-Clamp” headlights and updated grille and taillamps.

But that’s just where things start for the upcoming model-year, according to the Detroit automaker. The new F-Series line-up will get a big boost in power on two of its five powertrain options, while increasing fuel economy across the board. There are also an array of new and updated features that, Ford is betting, will help keep momentum building as it gains market share at the expense of key competitors Chevrolet and Ram.

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“The 2018 F-Series is even tougher, even smart, even more capable,” boasted Todd Eckert, Ford’s truck marketing manager, during a background media briefing on the updates to what has been, for four decades, the best-selling pickup on the U.S. market. (more…)

Ford Hopes to Stealthily Boost Mustang Sales in 2018

Mustang engineer wanted to make the pony car a better neighbor.

by on Aug.02, 2017

Steve von Foerster's neighbors convinced him his Mustang GT needed to be quieter.

Ford has already announced some big news for the 2018 Mustang update, including the fastest-ever V-8 GT and a more throaty, tech-enhanced exhaust note for the turbo-four version of the pony car. But it’s also giving drivers a way to go, “Shh!”

It might seem like an oxymoron, but the 2018 Ford Mustang is adding two features intended to make it a good – read “quiet” – neighbor, allowing you to start the car up quietly and then drive it home later without the usual exhaust growl.

Performance News!

Credit the time a neighbor called the cops on Steve von Foerster, until recently the Mustang’s chief vehicle engineer as he was getting ready to leave for work in his Mustang one quiet morning. He got out of a ticket but it got him to think about ways to make his car a bit more neighbor-friendly.

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Ford to Repair Police Interceptor Versions of the Explorer SUV

Feds upgrade probe of 1.33 mil civilian Ford Explorers - carbon monoxide leaks could be problem.

by on Jul.31, 2017

K9 officer Keegan helped pull the covers off the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor.

Ford Motor Co. says it will repair police versions of the company’s popular Ford Explorer SUVs because of a problem that could make it possible for deadly carbon monoxide to leak into the cabin.

The announcement comes as the city of Austin, Texas decided to pull 400 Explorers from its police fleet because of the problem. Separately, federal regulators have upgraded a probe into 1.33 million civilian versions of the Ford Explorer because of reports of exhaust odors entering the cabin. There have been at least three reported crashes involving carbon monoxide exposure.

Safety Talk!

“This is my family,” Austin’s interim police chief Brian Manley said when announcing the decision to idle the city’s police Explorer models. “I stand here confident that we’re making the right decision today based on what we know with the carbon monoxide exposure issue that we’ve had and the impacts that it has had on our workforce.”

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Ford Posts Better-Than-Expected Second Quarter

Officials predict lower 2017 pre-tax profits.

by on Jul.26, 2017

Ford's second-quarter profits beat forecasted results. However, officials predict lower full-year pre-tax profits.

Ford Motor Co. beat expectations with help from a lower tax rate and increased U.S. sales of more-profitable pickup trucks, but forecast a slightly lower 2017 pre-tax profit.

Automaker reported second-quarter net income of $2.04 billion, or 51 cents per share, up from just under $2 billion, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the No. 2 U.S. automaker reported earnings per share of 56 cents.

News You Can Trust!

“This quarter shows the underlying health of our company with strong products like F-Series and commercial vehicles around the world, but we have opportunity to deliver even more,” Jim Hackett, Ford’s new chief executive officer said in a statement. (more…)

Fastest-Ever Factory Mustang Coming in 2018

New GT will blast through 60 in under 4 seconds – but still not the fastest Detroit muscle car.

by on Jul.25, 2017

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT is the fastest base V-8 version ever, at under 4-sec 0-60.

The pony car race is heating up, Ford Motor Co. the latest to give its sporty coupe a big performance boost.

Ford says the 2018 Mustang GT will be faster than ever, blasting from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, with its big V-8 jumping to 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The 2018 Ford Mustang will also get a new drag-strip mode to ensure that all its power goes to the pavement when needed.

Performance News!

“Typically, when you shift gears, you give up time,” said Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmann. “In Drag Strip mode, the engine torque doesn’t drop when you’re shifting. You get peak engine torque and horsepower straight through thanks to our new Ford-built 10-speed transmission.”

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Ford Gives Police a High-Performance Pursuit Machine

Automaker’s new offering lets cops go anywhere to get their man.

by on Jul.20, 2017

Ford unveiled its new F-150 Police Responder giving police officers the ability to nab bad guys no matter where they go.

Just a few months after giving police officers the ability to go farther in their interceptor units with the new Ford Fusion Hybrid Interceptor, the automaker is giving them the ability to go anywhere to track down those running from the long arm of the law.

Ford unveiled its new F-150 Police Responder model today. The newest addition to the line-up is designed to give law enforcement officers the ability to pursue criminals anywhere.

Safety News!

More Raptor Interceptor than Police Responder, the truck features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost putting out 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque allowing for speeds up to 100 mph and plenty of off-road performance in the event pursuits go off tarmac. (more…)