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Ford Planning to Launch 1st Driverless Car by 2021

Initial focus: ride-sharing services like Uber, and delivery companies.

by on Aug.17, 2016

Ford recently began testing autonomous vehicle prototypes on public roads in Silicon Valley.

It has become conventional wisdom within the transportation industry that the introduction of autonomous vehicles will be a step-by-step process, starting with so-called “driver assistance” systems and only eventually reaching the point where cars and trucks will be capable of driving entirely on their own.

Ford Motor Co. says it is heading in a very different direction, however, the Detroit automaker revealing plans to put its first completely driverless vehicle into production by 2021. The model it is working on, global product development chief Raj Nair tells TheDetroitBureau.com, won’t even have a steering wheel or pedals.

We'll Do the Driving!

“We don’t think the path to true autonomy is through a step-by-step, incremental process,” Nair said during a telephone interview. Having a driver sit behind the wheel, waiting to take over in an emergency is actually a dangerous solution, he explained because, over time, “You lose driver awareness. You lose the ability for a human to respond in a timely manner.”


Are You Qualified to Buy a Ford GT?

Even if you have the cash, Ford is being picky about buyers.

by on Feb.02, 2016

A Ford GT coming out of the Daytona pits.

So, you’ve saved your pennies and have a big enough bank account to write a check for a new Ford GT when it goes on sale this year. But you still may be out of luck. Ford has set up a rigorous, online application process to find deserving homes for the new supercar.

An assortment of affluent aficionados have already let Ford know they’d like one of the limited-edition GTs – which are expected to cost somewhere north of $400,000. Lifting a page from the Ferrari playbook, Ford has decided that simply having the cash won’t be enough to get a GT.

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“We want to prioritize people who are going to care about the car, keep the car and drive the car,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development director, told The Detroit News.


Victory, Defeat – and Plenty of Surprises – at the Rolex 24 at Daytona

Another tequila sunrise to start the 2016 racing season.

by on Feb.01, 2016

Luis Filipe Derani celebrates after driving the last leg in the ESM team's Honda at the Rolex 24.

It wasn’t champagne flowing in Florida Sunday afternoon — nor milk, the beverage of choice for Indianapolis 500 winners. After 22-year-old Luis Filipe Derani shot across the finish line to wrap up the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the drink of choice was tequila.

No surprise, for Derani and his four co-drivers claimed an unprecedented victory behind the wheel of the Honda-powered Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports prototype, a full 26 seconds ahead of their nearest competitors.

Racing News!

It was the first time ever that a P2-class race car had claimed victory in what is generally seen as America’s most grueling endurance race – and a prelude to the summer’s main event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Words can’t describe it,” said ESM co-driver Scott Sharp, a previous Daytona winner. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’s amazing.”


Ford to Invest $4.5 Bil in New Electrified Products

By 2020, 40% of its nameplates will be offered with battery-based options.

by on Dec.10, 2015

"More than 40% of our nameplates will be electrified," announced Ford CEO Mark Fields.

Ford Motor plans to invest $4.5 billion to add an array of new hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles to its line-up by the end of the decade, CEO Mark Fields announced on Thursday.

The maker plans not only to add more battery-based vehicles but also to expand where it will offer those models, with two new produced, the plug-in C-Max Energi and the Mondeo Hybrid, entering the Chinese market in the coming months.

Plug In!

By the end of the decade, said Fields, “More than 40% of our nameplates will be electrified,” up from 13% today, and the list will include “a full range” of the maker’s products, not just a limited selection like today. Where there are six battery-based products today, Ford will add 13 more by 2020.


Is Ford Ready to Race New GT at Le Mans?

Maker set to announce “significant performance news.”

by on Jun.12, 2015

Ford Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Mark Fields unveiling the new Ford GT supercar at the Detroit Auto Show.

Ford Motor Co. is only promising some “significant performance news” will be announced in Cologne, Germany today. But based on a variety of hints the maker has been dropping, the betting is that it will announce plans to return to Le Mans in the near future, all but certainly to race the reborn Ford GT.

Rumors of a new Le Mans program began to surface even before Ford revealed the latest take on the ultracar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January. Company officials then suggested they might have additional plans for the GT.

Performance News!

The announcement will come just a day before the 2015 Le Mans race gets the green flag. If Ford were to put the GT back on the track in 2016 it would be more than just a coincidence. That would mark the 50th anniversary of the maker’s stunning victory at Le Mans with its original GT40 Mk II


Ford Designers Want to Mine Your Mind

Biometric sensors help Detroit maker develop better interior designs.

by on Mar.23, 2015

Ford used the new biometric technologies to assist in the development of the tight GT cockpit.

Automotive interiors have come a long way in recent years. Even the most Spartan vehicles are likely to use materials and offer features that were found in only the most up-market models a decade ago. And that’s become a critical factor when motorists go to buy a new car, truck or crossover, says Moray Callum, the head of design at Ford Motor Co.

So, how to differentiate your product from the competition has become an increasingly critical challenge for a company like Ford. And the maker is turning to some interesting science to help it get a leg up. That includes the use of brain wave scanners that can tell when an interior design turns on a potential buyer or leaves them cold.

Top of Mind!

“Customers no longer just look at a vehicle as a conveyance,” contends Raj Nair, Ford’s director of product development, “but as an extension of their home or office.” So, they want the same level of design – and technology, he says.


Ford Bringing New Focus RS to US for 1st Time

Performance hatchback will adopt new AWD system with dynamic torque vectoring.

by on Feb.03, 2015

The new Ford Focus RS will make "in excess of" 315 hp, possibly quite in excess.

Ford will be giving compact performance fans a new option, the maker today rolling out an all-new version of its hot hatch Focus RS – and confirming will come to the U.S. market for the first time.

Part of an ambitious plan to significantly expand its presence in the performance market, the new RS will be one of the fastest and best-handling models in the Ford line-up, company officials promised during a preview staged in both Cologne, Germany and at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

Auto Insight!

“The RS is the next extension of our plan to bring out 12 (performance) vehicles,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, from the suburban Detroit end of the unveiling.


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.


On Track and Under the Hood of the 2015 Ford Mustang

Ford offers hot laps – and some secrets about the ’15 pony car.

by on Jul.18, 2014

The 2015 Ford Mustang celebrates 50 years of the legendary pony car with improvements in almost every aspect of the car.

“We’re still tweaking,” concedes Tom Barnes, the head of the vehicle dynamics team bringing the new 2015 Ford Mustang to life.

But with the all-new pony car set to roll into showrooms in just a matter of months, most of the work is completed, giving Ford the chance to show off the new Mustang by taking a handful of journalists under the hood – and for some hot laps around its Dearborn, Michigan, proving grounds.

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While far from a hands-on driving experience, the event revealed that the 50th anniversary Mustang is likely to live up to the promise laid out by Ford’s global product development chief Raj Nair, who boasted to the media group that “This is the greatest, best-performing Mustang we have ever had.”


Former GM Exec Butler Heads Ford’s Connectivity Efforts

Improving customer experience tops list of new duties.

by on Jan.03, 2014

Don Butler, former Cadillac executive, has joined Ford as executive director of connective vehicles and services.

As quickly and quietly as former Cadillac executive Don Butler departed General Motors, he has resurfaced at Ford as executive director of connected vehicles and services.

In his newly created role, Butler, 50, will lead Ford’s development of a near-, mid- and long-term plan, with the goal of delivering a best-in-class customer experience both inside and outside of the vehicle, according to the company.

Your Auto News Source!

“Not only does Don understand the connected car landscape, but probably just as important, he understands customer expectations,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, in a statement. “Having a leader with technology experience both inside and outside the industry is a rare combination – we’re excited to have Don join our team.” (more…)