Archive for the ‘Ford’ Category

Ford and VW are forming an alliance—here’s why it’s a smart move

January 15th, 2019
Artist's impression of a VW-branded Transit van.

Enlarge / Artist's impression of a VW-branded Transit van. (credit: Aurich / Ford)

We have seen a couple of big news days for two of the world's biggest automakers. On Monday, Ford used the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to announce the Shelby GT500, an uber-Mustang, as well as new Explorer crossovers. The same day, Volkswagen—one of the few German brands to attend Detroit this year—revealed the latest Passat sedan and an $800 million investment in its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The US plant is to become VW's North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles, adding 1,000 new jobs with production of electric vehicles using the new MEB architecture beginning in 2022.

You'd think that either company would be relaxing at this point; after all, both just laid out some pretty strong plans to sell a lot of vehicles here in the US market. But throughout yesterday, automotive Twitter (yes, it's a thing) was a-buzz with news of something else, a joint press conference between the two rivals. On Tuesday morning we got our answer: a global alliance between Ford and Volkswagen, with each contributing one of its strengths in an area where the other has a weakness.

It's not a merger, and no shares are trading hands between the companies. But it will involve plenty of collaboration. First up? New commercial vans and medium-sized pickups for the global (read not-US) market. And that's medium-sized as determined by those markets, so we're talking Ranger-sized, not F-250 monsters. Ford will build pickup trucks to be badged by both automakers, starting in 2022. It will also develop a replacement for the Transit van, with VW taking responsibility for a new city van due in 2023.

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Ford goes all-out with the new supercharged 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500

January 14th, 2019

On Monday morning, the second-worst secret in Detroit finally got its official reveal. I am of course referring to the newest, fastest, and biggest-grilled (that's a word) Ford Mustang ever, the Shelby GT500. (Number one is obviously the mid-engined Corvette C8.) Under its now-bulging hood is a supercharged version of the 5.2L "flat crank" V8 that sounded so good in the Shelby GT350. The addition of some forced air will give the GT500 "more than 700 horsepower" (522kW), according to the spec sheet—full figures will have to wait until closer to the car's showroom arrival later this year. To cope, it gets a new dual-clutch transmission from Tremec; sorry stick shift fans, there is no three-pedal option this time.

The rest of the car takes this same approach: start with the GT350 then turn everything up to 12 (because 11 is passe.) The scoops and vents are bigger, because the more powerful engine and stronger transmission need more cooling. So, too, do the brakes, similarly supersized—the front rotors now measure 16.5in (420mm) which is a hefty increase in thermal mass. It's the front that dominates the GT500's appearance. Ford says it has double the open area of the GT350—a stat we don't doubt—and that cooling airflow is 50 percent higher.

There's revised suspension geometry to cope with all this excess, and like the Mustang GT we tried driving last year, there's a full suite of track-biased electronic trickery on offer from the MagnaRide suspension and the powertrain. If you opt for the Handling Pack you get some additional goodies, including adjustable strut top mounts and a spoiler with a Gurney flap. Or you can go for the Carbon Fiber track package, which includes carbon fiber wheels (slightly wider at the rear), ultra-sticky Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires from Michelin, the adjustable wing and splitter from the GT4 Mustang race car, and no back seats.

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Posted in cars, Ford, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Mustang, Shelby | Comments (0)

Tesla has a problem with racism in its factory—so do many of its rivals

November 30th, 2018
Robotics arms install the front seats to a Model 3 at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

Enlarge / Robotics arms install the front seats to a Model 3 at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. (credit: Mason Trinca for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

At least six black former Tesla employees have told The New York Times that they suffered from racial harassment while working at the company. Three racial discrimination lawsuits have been filed against Tesla since early last year.

One man, DeWitt Lambert, shared a video in which an unidentified man walks around Tesla's factory floor and—addressing Lambert—threatens to "cut you up … so everybody can have a piece of you, n*****."

In a lengthy statement to Ars Technica, Tesla faulted the Times for extrapolating from "a very small number of claims" to paint Tesla in an unflattering light.

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Posted in cars, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, honda, Tesla | Comments (0)

Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot

November 14th, 2018
Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot

Enlarge (credit: Ford)

Ford is working with Postmates and Walmart on a pilot program for self-driving grocery deliveries, the companies announced on Wednesday.

"We are exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items," Ford said in a press release.

The grocery delivery pilot experiment will be based in Miami, where Ford's self-driving car company, Argo, is already testing self-driving vehicles. Ford had been testing self-driving deliveries with Postmates prior to this announcement.

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Posted in Argo, cars, driverless cars, Ford, Miami, postmates, Wal-Mart | Comments (0)

Ford recalls 1.5 million Focuses for faulty fuel tank purge valves

October 25th, 2018
Ford recalls 1.5 million Focuses for faulty fuel tank purge valves

Enlarge (credit: Ford)

On Thursday, Ford announced a recall affecting almost 1.3 million cars in the US. It covers the 2012-2018 model year Ford Focus; specifically those with either a 2.0L GDI engine built before April 13, 2017, or those with a 2.0L GTDI engine built before February 2, 2018. A further 136,272 vehicles are affected in Canada, with 44,521 more in Mexico.

The problem is with the evaporation system fitted to the cars' fuel tanks. The affected cars have canister purge valves that can refuse to close, which in turn could cause enough vacuum within the tank to deform it. Ford says that the concern is that cars could refuse to start or stall while driving refuse, and then refuse to restart. Affected vehicles may display a malfunction indicator light, or maybe just a fluctuating fuel gauge.

The fix sounds relatively simple: a reprogrammed control module that detects if the purge valve is malfunctioning and prevents the above from happening. Ford dealers will also inspect and replace affected fuel systems if necessary.

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The best of the 2017 New York International Auto Show

April 14th, 2017

Jonathan Gitlin

NEW YORK—It seems like barely any time has passed since our last major auto show, but the world’s auto makers are back in Manhattan this week for the 2017 New York International Auto Show. You’ll be able to read (and watch) our take on many of the new vehicles on display in the coming days, but what follows are our picks for the best new models you’ll be able to see at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, starting today when the auto show opens to the public.

Outstanding in the Automotive Technology field: Cadillac Supercruise

Since this is a technology site, we’ll kick things off with the best new automotive technology of this year’s NYIAS. That honor belongs to Cadillac, which is joining the semi-autonomous driving fray with its new “level 2” system, called Supercruise. We have driven some pretty good semi-autonomous systems recently: Audi, Volvo, and Tesla all spring immediately to mind. These use a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assists to keep your car on track on the highway, backing up the human driver to counteract fatigue and provide a little digital helping hand on long drives. Supercruise combines those two driver assists with a few extra neat features that mark the next step on the road to fully self-driving vehicles.

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Posted in alfa romeo, Ars Approved, BMW, cadillac, Cars Technica, Features, Ford, NYIAS, porsche, RAM, volvo | Comments (0)

Ford’s billion-dollar self-driving car AI deal

February 10th, 2017

Enlarge / L-R: Peter Rander, Argo AI COO; Ken Washington, Ford vice president of research and advanced engineering; Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO; Bryan Salesky, Argo AI CEO; Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, product development, and chief technical officer; and Laura Merling, Ford Smart Mobility LLC vice president of autonomous vehicle solutions. Salesky and Rander are alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and former leaders on the self-driving car teams of Google and Uber, respectively. (credit: Ford)

If you had to pick a single buzzword to define the auto industry of late, it would have to be “mobility.” Car companies are coming to grips with demographic and socioeconomic changes and the rise of the sharing economy and are moving beyond the old way of doing business, i.e., just building cars and selling them to customers. Ford has been on the leading edge of this trend, announcing in August last year that it plans to put an SAE level 4 autonomous vehicle into mass production as a ride-sharing service in 2021. Today, it announced that, as part of that plan, it is investing $1 billion over five years in a company called Argo AI, a startup led by the former leads of Google and Uber’s self-driving programs.

“The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” said Ford president and CEO Mark Fields. “As Ford expands to be an auto and a mobility company, we believe that investing in Argo AI will create significant value for our shareholders by strengthening Ford’s leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and by creating technology that could be licensed to others in the future.”

This isn’t the first strategic investment in self-driving technology from the Blue Oval. As part of last August’s reveal, the company announced it was investing in lidar sensor-maker Velodyne and 3D-mapping company Civil Maps. Ford also purchased a machine-vision company called SAIPS and entered into a licensing agreement with another, Nirenberg Neuroscience.

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Posted in Cars Technica, Ford, self-driving vehicle | Comments (0)

The 2018 Mustang will have driver assist tech, 10-speed transmission option

January 18th, 2017

Enlarge

On Tuesday, Ford announced its 2018 Mustang, a refresh from the previous generation that debuted in 2015. Although Ford couldn’t share important details like fuel economy and price, the Mustang refresh seems like a thoughtful one. It has driver assist technology, a more aerodynamic design, and performance upgrades for both the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, as well as its 5.0L V8 engine on the GT.

Ars spoke to Corey Holter, Ford’s Marketing Manager for Car and Cross Vehicle Marketing, about the updates to the car. He emphasized that the EcoBoost has been successful in bringing new customers into Ford’s mix, especially millennials, people of color, and women.

Before we saw the car, a spokesperson for Ford told us that the redesign of the interior and exterior of the 2018 Mustang would attract new female buyers, which admittedly put us on our guard. As a tech publication, we’re all-too-familiar with the old “pink washing” gambit used so often by phone companies—that markets a product to women by slashing its specs and pandering to a perceived “female” aesthetic.

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Posted in Cars Technica, Ford, Mustang | Comments (0)

Video: Find out how technology is changing Ford with its CTO, Raj Nair

January 14th, 2017

DETROIT—One of the home team, Ford had a few things to announce at this year’s North American International Auto Show. Its best-seller, the F-150 truck, got a mid-life refresh, and the company announced that it’s finally reintroducing the smaller Ranger truck to the US in a couple of years. The Bronco SUV will be reborn, too, a year after that.

But some of the more interesting developments at the Blue Oval have been underway for a while now, as the company grows beyond car making into that ever-present buzzword, “mobility.” Ford is working on self-driving technology, a range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, and ride-hailing services. It’s even found time to make a Le Mans-winning supercar. We sat down with Raj Nair, Ford’s Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President, Product Development, to find out a bit more about those different programs and how Ford’s business is changing:

We sit down with Ford’s Raj Nair at NAIAS. (video link)

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Posted in Ars Technica Videos, Cars Technica, Ford, NAIAS 2017 | Comments (0)

Ford: We’re canceling $1.6B Mexico facility, investing in electric and US plant

January 3rd, 2017

Enlarge / Prototype of the upcoming Transit Custom EV, which will be available in Europe by 2019 according to today’s event. (credit: Ford)

Today at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields unveiled a large-scale electric vehicle initiative that will run through the company’s next five years. Ford plans to invest $4.5 billion in electric vehicle production by 2020, and the company said it will produce 13 new electric vehicles, including a Mustang, an F-150, police cars, and a Transit Custom van. Additionally, Fields revealed that Ford would be canceling a previously announced $1.6 billion-production facility in Mexico. Instead, the company wants to invest $700 million in the existing Flat Rock facility, generating 700 new jobs focused on EV and autonomous initiatives at that location, according to Ford.

“Electrified vehicles have driven millions of miles and saved consumers millions on costs in fuels,” Fields said. “Now, imagine electrifying a pick-up truck for more productivity—or a commercial van, a police car. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Ford described seven of the 13 upcoming EVs during its press conference today. The F-150 Hybrid will be available by 2020 in North America and the Middle East, and Fields noted it’ll be powerful enough to stand-in for on-site generators in a pinch. The Mustang Hybrid will deliver “V8 power and even more low-end torque” according to Ford; it too is intended for a 2020 release. Generally, electric motors are well suited to applications where you want a lot of immediate torque, so their presence should work well in a light duty truck like the F-150. (Cars Technica Editor Jonathan Gitlin notes it will also probably make the electric Mustang pretty handy at the drag strip.)

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Posted in Cars Technica, Electric vehicles, Ford | Comments (0)