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Ford Reveals $1.2B Investment in 3 Michigan Plants

Project in the works for some time, but automaker hails pro-growth environment.

by on Mar.28, 2017

A worker on the line at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant. It will soon be building trucks.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, the automaker announced Tuesday, a move signaled overnight through a tweet from Pres. Donald Trump.

The three projects the package covers will help save and, in some cases add, thousands of jobs in the suburban Detroit region, in line with one of the president’s priorities. But a senior executive from Ford told TheDetroitBureau.com that all three projects were in the works well before Trump took office – the largest, involving an $850 million assembly plant investment, approved as part of a deal with the United Auto Workers Union in 2015.

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The announcement is “consistent with what we announced previously,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, though he quickly stressed that Ford is “encouraged by the pro-growth approach the administration is trying to follow. We continue to be encouraged by the dialogue.”

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Trump Tweets About $1B Ford Plant Plan

Project actually in the works since 2015.

by on Mar.28, 2017

Ford finally confirmed in January it will bring back the Bronco (a concept version shown here).

Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce today that it will spend over $1 billion to expand and upgrade three plants in Michigan, an expansive program highlighted overnight in a tweet from President Donald Trump and detailed in a story in a local Detroit paper.

According to the Detroit News, however, the largest portion of that project involves an investment at the Michigan Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, Michigan and was in the works well before the businessman-turned politician was elected president last year. The other investments are expected to support work at that plant.

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As a candidate, Trump frequently criticized Ford over its decision to move small car production to Mexico, warning that he would take steps, as president, to penalize the automaker, including an import tax on Mexican-made vehicles. In January, however, Trump hailed Ford’s announcement that it was canceling a second Mexican plant – even though it was still going ahead with plans to move the compact Focus model to Mexico.

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Ford Confirms Return of Bronco, Ranger

Ranger returns 2019, Bronco back in 2020.

by on Jan.09, 2017

Could this Ford Bronco concept shown a decade ago could serve as a template for a new SUV.

They’re baaaack!!!

After plenty of hints, rumors, innuendos and leaked production plans, Ford officials confirmed today in Detroit that its bringing back the Ford Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger truck. Both will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.

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“We’ve heard our customers loud and clear. They want a new generation of vehicles that are incredibly capable yet fun to drive,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas. (more…)

UAW Official Confirms Return of Bronco, Ranger

New trucks to replace small car production at Michigan plant.

by on Oct.05, 2016

Could this Ford Bronco concept shown a decade ago could serve as a template for a new SUV.

Ford will bring back two old light truck nameplates sometime in 2018, according to a union official representing the Michigan plant where the Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup will be produced.

The two models will go into a suburban Detroit plant that has been producing some of Ford’s smaller passenger car lines. The Focus sedan and C-Max people-mover will move to Mexico, a plan that triggered a tirade by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. His campaign has not responded to a request for comment on the latest development.

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Ford has repeatedly said it would find new work for the Michigan Assembly Plant in the suburb of Wayne, but not what would go there. It turns out union leaders have known about the replacement products for some time. (more…)

Ram Boss Says Room for Two in Midsize Truck Line-Up

Jeep Wrangler-based option already in the works.

by on Mar.31, 2016

Are Fiat Chrysler officials considering adding a second midsize pickup to its line-up for the Ram brand?

Fiat Chrysler wouldn’t be the first automaker ever to change course.

After months of denying it has any interest in returning to the midsize truck segment that is expanding like wildfire an FCA official hinted at the possibility of not one offering but two.

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“I think there’s opportunity there in the US if you look at what’s happened in the mid-size segment here – significant growth last year,” Jeep and Ram boss Mike Manley told the Detroit News. (more…)

New UAW Contract Means Return of Ranger, Bronco

Maker investing $9 billion in U.S. operations as part of agreement.

by on Nov.10, 2015

A Ford Bronco concept shown a decade back could serve as a template for a new SUV.

New contract, new products. As part of its agreement with the United Auto Workers Union, Ford Motor Co. will invest $9 billion in its U.S. operations and, among other things, that will mean the return of two old nameplates: the Ranger and the Bronco.

It also means that the big Michigan Assembly Plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne will remain fully operational – something that was far from certain after Ford’s prior announcement that it would be moving several models out of that plant and down to Mexico.

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Ford’s four-year contract has yet to win ratification, and UAW members have shown a testiness this year that led to the defeat of an initial contract from Fiat Chrysler. Skilled trades workers also rejected their tentative contract at General Motors. But the Ford offer appears to be the most lucrative of any from Detroit’s Big Three and, with the thumbs-up of plant leaders, it could win strong rank-and-file approval. (more…)

Ford Goes Wild(track) With Updated Ranger

Could move signal return of the midsize pickup to US?

by on Sep.14, 2015

The Ford Ranger Wildtrack bumps the midsize pickup into a higher level of refinement.

Ford is going wild as it prepares to launch an updated version of its midsize Ranger pickup in Europe. Make that Wildtrack, a new version of the truck making its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.

The unveiling in Europe further bolsters hopes that the Detroit maker will finally move ahead on long-rumored plans to bring the Ranger back to the American market, filling a yawning gap left wide open when it killed off the old, U.S.-made Ranger a few years back.

Trailblazing!

“With the stunning new Wildtrak at the pinnacle of the line-up, the new Ford Ranger provides customers with an unbeatable combination of four-wheel drive capability, stand-out styling and premium features like SYNC 2 connectivity,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe. “Ranger is ready for any challenge – offering optimised fuel efficiency, towing and payload capacity, and class-leading wading capability.”

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Blast From the Past: Detroit Automakers Looking to Revive More Old Nameplates

Barracuda, Bronco, Ranger among models that could return from rust heap.

by on Aug.27, 2015

An original Plymouth Barracuda.

Coming up with an all-new name has become a major headache for automakers around the world. It can be difficult to find a name that hasn’t already been taken, and it then can be extremely costly to build consumer awareness.

So, it seems, a number of carmakers are looking back into their past to see if there are once-popular nameplates that can be revived. And with the successful revival of the Chevrolet Camaro, a few years back, it seems that even more manufacturers are going to take this route.

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Among the once-popular names we may soon see back in showrooms are the Grand Wagoneer, Barracuda, Ranger and Bronco, it seems. And still others may follow – though looking for a blast from the past does carry some risks, industry analysts warn.

As TheDetroitBureau.com reported this week, Ford Motor Co. is expected to bring back the Ranger pickup, a nameplate it abandoned in the U.S. in 2011, though it continued offering an all-new model overseas. The Ranger would fill a gap in Ford’s line-up now that there are signs American motorists are returning to the once-huge midsize truck segment.

(Click Here for more on the return of the Ford Ranger.)

Ford is now expected to offer a U.S. version of the midsize Ranger pickup, a model it dropped in 2010.

The revival of the Ranger would follow the return of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models that briefly went out of production while General Motors worked up a more modern and competitive redesign of the compact trucks.

Ford also is said to be toying with the return of another once-popular model, the Bronco SUV. It was once a leader in the sport-utility segment but was replaced by more car-like models, such as the Ford Explorer. A new Bronco, sources suggest, would be roughly the size of the latest Explorer, but instead of riding on a car-like crossover platform it would share the chassis of the new Ranger pickup.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has brought back a number of model names in recent years, including muscle car mainstays like the Dodge Charger and Challenger. And it may add one more old-is-now offering to that high-powered segment, a revived Barracuda. In its heyday, the ‘Cuda was marketed through the now-abandoned Plymouth brand. Going forward it also would be sold through Dodge.

The sibling Jeep brand is also expected to bring back an old model, this one the big Grand Wagoneer. Though often credited with creating the modern SUV boom, Jeep hasn’t kept up with some key rivals in filling every possible model niche. The revived Grand Wagoneer would be a full-size model to take on the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GL, among others.

(Chevy, GMC hope to expand appeal of Colorado, Canyon twins with new diesel drivetrains. Click Herefor the latest.)

The return of the Chevy Camaro was one of the industry's most successful relaunches.

FCA reportedly is filling in dealers on its future product plans during a meeting in Las Vegas. Ford, meanwhile, has reportedly clued in the United Auto Workers Union on some of its plans as part of its ongoing contract negotiations. Formal public announcements could follow in the weeks or months ahead.

There are several reasons why manufacturers reach into their histories to revive old nameplates. For one thing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with good names that aren’t already in use or at least registered by a competitor. That’s one reason many makers have gone the alphanumeric route. But they also know that it’s hard to get worked up about something called an ABC123.

Launching an all-new nameplate, meanwhile, is extremely expensive, a mainstream model often requiring a marketing investment of $100 million or more to establish in the market, notes analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting.

But when it comes to these blasts from the past, some of those old model names still carry a lot of positive heritage that automatically tell a story in the collective public mind. That was the case when General Motors brought back the Chevrolet Camaro in 2009. The muscle car went on to dominate the so-called pony car segment for the next five years.

The retro-styled Ford Thunderbird didn't deliver on the maker's high hopes.

On the other hand, GM’s effort to bring back the once-revered Pontiac GTO name flopped a decade ago. Unlike the retro-styled Camaro, the new “Goat” had a bland and largely forgettable design that failed to connect with consumers.

The same was the case with the Thunderbird, the two-seat roadster Ford tried to launch a decade ago. Over the decades, the T’bird went through a variety of incarnations, from the original 2-seater to a bloated coupe and then into a quirky but less-than-compelling 2-seater again. A variety of product weaknesses resulted in mixed reviews and weak sales, and the Thunderbird was again pulled from the market.

So, while a grand old name can give a new product a head start, it’s not enough to fix a bad vehicle design.

(New Jeeps, including next Grand Cherokee, Grand Wagoneer, delayed. Click Here for more.)

Toyota Set to Debut New Tacoma at Detroit Auto Show

Adding energy to a resurgent midsize pickup market?

by on Dec.05, 2014

The current Toyota Tacoma.

Adding fuel to a simmering midsize truck market, Toyota confirms it will unveil an all-new version of its aging Tacoma pickup at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

The next-gen 2016 Toyota Tacoma will be unveiled along with two new models from the maker’s upscale Lexus division, said Bon Carter, the maker’s senior vice president pf automotive operations in North America. Toyota has been racing to get the new Tacoma ready for battle with a new line of offerings from General Motors, including the Chevrolet Colorado.

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Thinly disguised versions of the next Tacoma have been spotted undergoing testing in North America in recent months. As with the bigger Toyota Tundra, designers and engineers in the U.S. had a significant role in the development of the midsize truck, although it is being geared for sale in markets around the world, while Tundra is primarily focused on a State-side audience.

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Ford May Return to Small Pickup Market

But Detroit maker likely won’t use new Global Ranger for American market.

by on Oct.09, 2014

Ford still sells the Ranger around the world, but is reconsidering its decision to discontinue it in the U.S.

Ford Motor Co. may be ready to reverse its long-standing decision to abandon the compact American pickup market. But the maker is struggling to find a design that will offer a true alternative to the best-selling Ford F-150 full-size truck.

Ford walked away from the small pickup segment in December 2011, when it abandoned the long-in-the-tooth Ranger. And it wasn’t alone. With small truck sales withering over the decades, Chrysler and General Motors also pulled the plug on their old models.

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But GM is back for 2015 with two new midsize pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, and if initial reviews and early orders are any indication, they could be major hits, challenging the aged trucks offered by Toyota and Nissan. (more…)