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Ford Cuts Production of C-Max, Focus to Offset Oversupply

Maker introducing new Transit Connect Taxi to Hong Kong.

by on Oct.22, 2013

Ford is cutting production on the C-Max. It has a 122-day supply of the car: double the ideal number.

Ford Motor Co. continues working to balance its global business by implementing its first significant production cuts in more than a year while pushing plans to open a new market for Ford-made taxi cabs in southern China.

Ford officials said the automaker will temporarily stop producing the Focus and C-Max at the Michigan Assembly plant for two weeks this fall to reduce growing inventories. The assembly plant will be idle for the weeks of Oct. 28 and Dec. 16.

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Inventory of the C-Max, which has been hurt by challenges to its fuel-economy rating, has crept up to a 122-day supply, which is double what most automakers consider as a desirable. With the government shutdown unfolding, Focus started October with a 71-day supply. (more…)

First Look: Mini Clubvan Concept

It’s a Mini van, but not a minivan.

by on Feb.20, 2012

Mini's Clubvan concept echoes the design of the original 1960 Morris Mini Van.

The newest offering from Mini might properly be described as a van, but it is decidedly not a minivan.

The British maker is offering a sneak peek at the Mini Clubvan, a concept due to debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show based on the British marque’s current Clubman model.

The show car is based on a body style that has become extremely popular in Europe, here featuring two seats up front separated by a steel honeycomb partition from a reasonably roomy cargo compartment.  The Ford Transit Connect is one of the first versions of this approach to reach U.S. shores.

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The Clubvan, declares the maker, has the potential to significantly expand the brand’s appeal by resolving one of its biggest drawbacks, “with increased load-carrying capability.”

“The Mini experience,” it continues, “will therefore find its way into new areas of life, the brand’s distinctive character gaining new popularity among target groups not previously on the Mini radar.”

(more…)

Orders Roll in for Ford Transit Connect Electric

Battery van gaining fans.

by on Aug.30, 2011

Initial demand for the Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric van is exceeding expectations.

What was supposed to be a niche vehicle appears to be gaining some unexpected momentum.    Demand for the battery version of Ford’s Transit Connect van is pushing past initial expectations.

The Transit Connect Electric is a joint venture of Ford and the Canadian Azure Dynamics.  The Vancouver-based firm’s lithium-ion-powered driveline gives the compact commercial van a roughly 80 mile range, which the partners are betting hits the sweet spot for delivery services and other urban users.

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While that market is modest, so were Ford and Azure’s initial expectations, with first year sales targets of no more than around 700.  But early demand suggests that demand could push past that goal.

Azure Dynamics has announced its Norwegian Ford dealership, RøhneSelmer, has ordered an additional 100 all electric Transit Connect Electric vans. Its original March order was for just 58 of the vans, which were sold to a variety of clients, among them Norway Post.

(more…)

Sleeper of the Year – Ford Transit Connect?

With some bold moves, TC could be bigger than Ford envisions.

by on Jun.08, 2010

Automotive press have largely ignored, or been ignorant of, this relatively little-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside vehicle’s potential.

Since last winter, when the imported Ford Transit Connect small delivery van was proclaimed as the 2010 North American Truck of the Year, little has been heard about it as a mainstream product.

Yes, Ford announced Natural Gas and Electric versions of the TC, which got attention as part of the “Green movement.” Announcements of a TC taxicab version have, unfortunately, generated ho-hum, who cares media responses.

The American world and its automotive press have largely ignored, or been ignorant of, this relatively little-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside vehicle’s potential to sweep the country as tomorrow’s commercial vehicle. In plain language, the TC is a city delivery van, a replacement for yesteryear’s panel delivery trucks and, eventually, today’s big box vans like the Ford Econoline and Chevy Express.

Ford and its dealers will reap a bonanza with the TC. None of the competition, domestic or import, appears to have anything like it up their sleeves for the near future, although Chrysler through its Fiat product pipeline could present a formidable challenge with the Fiat Fiorino Qubo. (See First Look: Renault Kangoo TomTom) Whether Fiat can out market Ford given its U.S. history is debatable, and for once Jeep, Dodge and/or Chrysler badges could help.

Furthermore, Ford marketing folks don’t think the TC will cut into sales anytime soon of the Ford Econoline E-150 vans, long the king of such vehicles on North American roads. E-series U.S. van sales so far this year (through May) totaled 32,376 plus another 13,140 E-series Club Wagons, compared to a combined total of Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana sales of 27,114.  Many E-series, mostly the higher capacity E-250 and E-350 versions, power airport shuttle buses and motor homes. Ford’s E-series have long been a big money-maker, though mostly ignored by the motor media.

(more…)

First Look: Renault Kangoo TomTom

A car and truck like this could save Chrysler or smart.

by on Jan.15, 2010

These mini-minivans have huge sales potential as the next "small" thing in my view. And makers are once again missing an opportunity.

Renault has just introduced a new TomTom Edition in Europe of its wildly popular Kangoo. It is the fifth special edition of the 2010 Kangoo range, which includes existing Access, Authentique, Expression and Privilège versions.

In France, Kangoo is the best-selling vehicle in its class in both the private car and light commercial segments.

Like the original Chrysler minivan, or the original four-door Jeep Cherokee, (both of which went unanswered for years as Chrysler printed money from their sales) these mini-minivans have huge sales potential as the next small thing in my view. And makers are once again missing an opportunity.

Here, there is an opportunity with far great sales potential for Chrysler than the cute — but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500 model.

Here's a minivan with far greater sales potential for Chrysler than a cute -- but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500.

The Citroen Berlingo – shut out of the U.S. market — and the Fiat Fiorino, which is derived from it, are other variants of the type.

Here, there is an opportunity with far greater sales potential for Chrysler than the cute — but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500 model that is coming next year.

How about a Fiorino derived camper version from the Jeep brand, as well as Chrysler luxury models and Dodge truck derivatives?

If Chrysler is to be a comeback company, it needs to gamble on such new things in the U.S. market. New decals,  which debuted on Jeep Wrangler models at the NAIAS, will only go so far.

A Kangoo could also easily be successful here as a Smart or Mercedes-Benz model – one personal, the other commercial. During 2008, Smart sold 24,622 copies of its pint-sized fortwo, a figure that plunged 38% in 2009. (more…)

Ford Planning EV Version of Transit Connect

Electric-powered van one of four new battery vehicles coming.

by on Feb.09, 2009

Ford's urban Transit Connect van

Ford's urban Transit Connect van

Ford Motor Co. will charge into the Chicago Auto Show, this week, with the production version of its new Transit Connect commercial van. That includes a battery-powered version set to debut in 2010.

Based on a popular, downsized van now sold in Europe, Ford is betting it can expand its appeal to the urban business market with Transit Connect, which will go on sale in the U.S., mid-year. Equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine, which Ford expects to get “at least” 20 mpg City, 24 Highway, a base model will go for $21,475. No price has yet been set on the EV version.

If the five different models rolling onto the floor at Chicago’s McCormick Place are any indication, however, buyers will be picking and choosing from an extensive array of options, including interior shelving, rear doors and more.

“You may think we’re getting carried away with customization,” says Derrick Kuzak, head of global product development, at Ford, “but that’s exactly the point – to be able to match the needs of a business or fleet owner.”

(more…)