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New Explorer? Everest Concept Has Tongues Wagging

Seven-passenger SUV designed for global markets.

by on Mar.26, 2014

The Ford Everest Concept has people wondering if it could be a replacement for the Explorer in the U.S.

Is change in the wind for the Ford Explorer? Many are wondering after getting a look at its latest concept, the Everest.

On display at the 35th annual Bangkok International Motor Show, the Everest concept is a large, truck-based, seven-passenger SUV. Adding fuel to the “is it the next Explorer” fire is that it’s been cleared for production outside the U.S. It will be built in Thailand and sold in the maker’s Asian markets as well as Australia.

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“The Everest concept represents out vision of a global Ford vehicle with regional heritage that will allow customers to take on the world,” the maker said in a statement. “(It is a) bold new direction that we envision for a midsize, seven-seat SUV.” (more…)

Ford Focus Set to Topple Toyota Corolla as World’s Best-Seller

But don't count the Japanese small car out yet.

by on Aug.31, 2012

The Ford Focus could topple the current global best-seller, the Toyota Corolla, if it maintains its current sales pace.

The automotive global order could be in for a major shake-up.

Ford Motor Co. reports it sold 489,616 of its Focus sedans and hatchbacks worldwide during the first half of this year.  That’s 27,000 units, or about 5.5%, more than the perennial global sales leader the Toyota Corolla – and it could mark the first time in years that an American maker produced the world’s best-selling passenger car if that pace holds for the second half of 2012.

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Not that Toyota won’t try to cover that gap.  The giant maker has picked up plenty of momentum this year as it recovers from severe product shortages caused by the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.  In July, Toyota’s U.S. sales surged 37%, about twice the overall pace of the rebounding American market.


Further Production Cuts at Toyota and Honda

No clear end in sight in wake of Thai flooding.

by on Nov.07, 2011

The Thai flooding could impact the launch of new Toyota vehicles like the next-gen Lexus GS.

Both Toyota and Honda acknowledge they will have to make further cuts in production in the wake of the disastrous flooding that has savaged Thailand.  The two makers source a number of key components – especially microprocessors and other electronic goods – from the Southeast Asian nation, which has been hammered by some of the worst flooding in decades.

Toyota announced today it will reduce production at its Japanese plants by 30% this month due to parts shortages, with additional cuts being made in the U.S. and other plants around the world.

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The cuts come at a particularly bad time for both Toyota and Honda.  The two makers collectively lost more than a million units of production due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 leading to an earlier shortage of critical parts and components.


What Would It Take To Revive Ford Ranger?

The demise of the chicken tax?

by on Sep.02, 2010

Could Ford bring the new Thai- (or South African-) made Ranger to the U.S. after all?

It was once among the most popular trucks in America, but two recent events suggest the Ford Ranger will soon go away – or will it?

Despite the offer of significant new incentives from the State of Minnesota to keep open the current U.S. Ranger plant, Ford says the factory doesn’t have any use after 2012, when it plans to pull the truck from production.  At the same time, Ford is investing $350 million – along with Japanese partner Mazda – in a Thai plant that will build the new Ranger.  But there are no plans to bring that truck to the U.S.

Ford isn’t the only one fleeing the compact pickup segment at home. Chrysler has said the Dodge Dakota will end production next year, though Dakota may be replaced by a small unibody pickup. Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon production is also expected to end by 2012, leaving only Toyota, Nissan and potentially India’s Mahindra & Mahindra as the remaining players in the U.S. small pickup market.

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The segment has declined steeply over the last decade in the U.S. because buyers have fled compact and midsize trucks as their sizes have increased along with prices to near full-size levels and the platforms have aged in favor of updates for light- and heavy-duty pickups, which have higher profit margins.


Ford, Mazda Invest $350M in Thai Engine Plant – As Plans Move Ahead to Close U.S. Ranger Plant

Maker says slight possibility of importing new pickup to U.S.

by on Aug.26, 2010

A new investment in the Thai Ranger replacement even as plans proceed to end U.S. production.

Ford Motor Co. says it will invest $350 million in a partnership with long-time Asian affiliate Mazda Motors to produce a new compact pickup truck – even as the maker rejects bids by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and other local officials to save an assembly plant producing the current Ford Ranger pickup.

Together, Ford and Mazda have invested $1.85 billion into their AutoAlliance Thailand factory, in the Bangkok suburb of Rayong, since 1995.  The additional $350 million investment will support the launch of an all-new compact truck that is set to go into production in mid-2011.

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AAT will become “a global center of excellence for the production of both brand’s compact pickup trucks,” said Mazda Executive Vice President Masaharu Yamaki.


Ford Planning Massive Asian, African Investments

Like GM, Dearborn maker sees growing global opportunities.

by on Jun.25, 2010

Ford will build a new plant in Thailand to produce the latest version of its Focus.

Hoping to make up for lost time in some of the world’s fastest-growing automotive markets, Ford Motor Co. will be making investments that could total near $1 billion in Asia and Africa.

The investments, which include $450 million for a new plant in Thailand, as well as a yet-to-be-detailed expansion in South Africa, will help Ford not only serve those strong national markets, but expand exports to surrounding markets.

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“Frankly, we’re maxed out,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president for Asia-Pacific and African operations.  “We have more potential than we can build,” he said during an announcement in Bangkok.