Archive for the ‘Ford’ Category

Ford builds an affordable, efficient small truck: The new Maverick

June 8th, 2021

America’s love affair with the truck shows no signs of abating. The country buys millions of them each year, providing the bread and butter for domestic automakers. But not everyone is well-served by the products on offer. Some might want a truck but are turned off by their ever-increasing size, particularly hood heights that hide small pedestrians. Others are put off by the poor efficiency. Enter Ford. After blowing everyone’s socks off with its electric F-150 Lightning, the Blue Oval is back with yet another truck, but this one’s small, efficient, and cheap—it’s the new Ford Maverick.

Unlike its bigger siblings, the Maverick uses a monocoque chassis construction rather than a body on frame. At just under 200 inches (5,072 mm) in length, it’s significantly shorter than the (232-inch/5,885-mm) F-150, and smaller even than the Ranger. And that means a shorter and lower hood and, therefore, a smaller forward blind spot, which will be welcome news to pedestrians, cyclists, and road users with small cars.

Under that small hood, you’ll find a hybrid powertrain that combines a 162 hp (120 kW), 155 lb-ft (210 Nm), 2.5 L four-cylinder gasoline engine (that operates on the more efficient Atkinson cycle) with a 126 hp (94 kW), 173 lb-ft (235 Nm) permanent magnet electric motor. Together, they provide 191 hp (142 kW) to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission.

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Posted in cars, Ford, Ford Maverick, hybrid truck, pickup truck | Comments (0)

Ford reveals pricing for the F-150 Lightning Pro work truck

May 24th, 2021

Last week, Ford revealed the F-150 Lightning, its long-awaited electric pickup truck. At the start of the new work week, the automaker offered up some information about the entry-level versions of the F-150 Lighting, which it is targeting at the commercial market. This version will be called the F-150 Lightning Pro.

The standard-range F-150 Lightning Pro can travel approximately 230 miles on a single charge and, as we found out last week, will cost $39,974 before incentives or tax credits.

What we didn’t know was how much of a premium Ford would charge for the extended-range version. This model is capable of about 300 miles on a single charge and will be supplied with a 240 V, 80 A charger (called the Charge Station Pro) that can fill the battery to 100 percent in eight hours. As it turns out, the electric pickup with the bigger battery will go on sale at $49,974 before incentives and tax credits.

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Posted in cars, electric pickup truck, electric truck, F-150, Ford, ford f-150, Ford F-150 Lightning, Ford F-150 Lightning Pro, pickup truck | Comments (0)

Ford’s hands-free answer to GM’s Super Cruise is called BlueCruise

April 14th, 2021

On Wednesday morning, the Ford Motor Company revealed some fresh information about its forthcoming hands-free highway driving assist. Originally known as Active Drive Assist, this new system has been renamed BlueCruise, and it will roll out in Q3 2021 via an over-the-air update to F-150 trucks and Mustang Mach-E crossovers that shipped with pre-installed hardware.

Like General Motors’ highly rated Super Cruise system, BlueCruise only enables hands-free driving on predetermined roads—in this case 110,000 miles (177,027 km) of pre-mapped divided-lane highways.

And, like Super Cruise, it uses an eye-tracking infrared camera to make sure that the driver’s eyes are on the road ahead while engaged. To prevent mode confusion, Ford says that the main instrument display will change unambiguously so drivers know whether BlueCruise is active.

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Posted in ADAS, advanced driver assistance systems, BlueCruise, cars, Ford, ford f-150, Ford Mustang Mach-E, hands-free driving | Comments (0)

3D printer waste can be recycled into truck parts, Ford finds

March 26th, 2021

Slowly but surely, car companies are beginning to make themselves more sustainable. We most often hear about this in the context of using clean energy to power the production lines and assembly plants that put together new electric vehicles, but it shows up in smaller examples, too. Take Ford, for example. Working with HP, it has come up with a use for plastic waste left over from 3D printing, which it’s now using to make truck parts.

Like many automakers, Ford has been getting more comfortable with additive manufacturing. 3D printing lends itself well to producing low-volume parts that would otherwise be too expensive to make due to the cost of creating tooling. But in this case, some of those printed bits will actually end up in production vehicles—sort of.

Ford, working with HP (which supplies the Blue Oval with some of its printers), has started recycling 3D printed parts and powder and is using the plastic to make fuel clips for the F-250 truck. The waste plastic, along with similar waste from the dental company SmileDirectClub (which apparently has 60 3D printers making 40,000 aligners a day), gets sent to a company called Lavergne that turns it into plastic pellets that can then be used in injection molding machines. Those pellets are then used by one of Ford’s suppliers, ARaymond, to make the fuel clips.

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Posted in 3D printing, cars, Ford, HP, plastics, recycling | Comments (0)

Will Ferrell and GM want to prank Norway with pizza, but why?

February 11th, 2021
GM and Will Ferrell took a Cadillac Lyriq EV to Sweden to highlight the fact that Norway buys more electric vehicles per capita than the US.

Enlarge / GM and Will Ferrell took a Cadillac Lyriq EV to Sweden to highlight the fact that Norway buys more electric vehicles per capita than the US. (credit: General Motors)

Although a bunch of automakers chose to sit out 2021, General Motors still saw value in advertising during this year’s Super Bowl. The automaker used the event to promote its electric vehicle aspirations, which include plans to have an all-electric lineup by 2035.

This project will be propelled by a new platform called Ultium and will start with next year’s Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV. But you wouldn’t know that from the ad campaign—at least not at first. Instead, we learn that Will Ferrell is really angry with Norway, and he wants to prank the nation of more than five million by sending them all anchovy pizzas.

The cause of this rage? Norway is doing better at EV adoption than the US. Much better, in fact, as 54 percent of all new vehicles sold in the Scandinavian country in 2020 were electric. Here in the US, plug-in vehicles accounted for a mere 2.2 percent of the 14.6 million new cars and trucks sold last year (although in absolute numbers, the US still bought about three times as many EVs as Norway).

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Posted in Audi, cars, climate change, Electric vehicles, EVs, Ford, General Motors, Norway, plug-ins, Super Bowl | Comments (0)

A silicon chip shortage is causing automakers to idle their factories

February 4th, 2021
A silicon chip shortage is causing automakers to idle their factories

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

You may have noticed that it’s difficult to get a hold of new high-end graphics cards and game consoles these days. In large part, that’s due to an ongoing global shortage affecting semiconductor foundries. As it turns out, the problem is even more pronounced in the auto industry. In fact, it’s getting so bad that a number of OEMs, including Ford and General Motors, have had to go as far as idling shifts and even entire factories.

Ford had to stop production in Kentucky in December of 2020, and in January, it ordered a month-long pause at a German factory. Stellantis (the new company formed by a merger between Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot) reduced output at factories in the US, Mexico, and Canada around the same time. As did Audi, which had to idle 10,000 employees in Germany, CEO Markus Duesmann telling the Financial Times that the problem involved “a very long chain with different supply levels on the components that we are short.” Subaru’s Gunma factory in Japan has been affected. Production of Toyota’s Texas-produced Tundra has, too.

This week, more hits keep coming. Mazda just announced it might have to cut output by 34,000 units this year due to a lack of chips. Nissan’s truck factory in Mississippi has reduced its hours. And on Wednesday, GM said it will halt production at factories in Kansas, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. In many cases, the automakers are trying to prioritize their more in-demand products, but as some of those closures show, that isn’t always possible.

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Posted in Audi, auto industry, BMW, cars, chip shortage, Ford, foundries, General Motors, mazda, semiconductors, Stellantis, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen | Comments (0)

Ford Mustang Mach-E review: The people’s pony goes electric

February 4th, 2021
Yes, I am aware that photographing an electric car in front of an electricity power station is a cliché. Sorry.

Enlarge / Yes, I am aware that photographing an electric car in front of an electricity power station is a cliché. Sorry. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

I wasn’t expecting the Ford Mustang Mach-E to draw quite as much attention as it did. Over the past few months, I’ve driven some wild-looking cars, but more people pulled out their camera phones to capture the Mach-E drive past than they did for the McLaren GT. When stopped in traffic, the Mach-E garnered more curious questions—from other drivers, as well as pedestrians—than did the Polaris Slingshot. Ford’s new battery electric vehicle definitely has mindshare, no doubt helped by the fact that over a year has passed since the production version was first unveiled to the public in November 2019.

I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say the Mach-E might be the most important new car of the year. The ubiquity of Ford dealerships makes the Mach-E accessible to people in parts of the country where brands like Tesla or Polestar have yet to reach (although, like its startup rivals, the Mach-E is configured and ordered online, not bought from a forecourt). The influence of Tesla is evident in more than just the sales process, too; the Mach-E’s minimalist interior is almost button-free and dominated by a large touchscreen. But the vehicle still offers the familiarity of the Mustang name and some of the sports car’s design cues to go with it, like the distinctive triple-barred tail lights.

Not everyone is on board with the Mach-E being called a Mustang. Car people in particular are unhappy that the long and storied name has been attached to a five-door crossover, not a two-door coupe. But Ford wants to sell the Mach-E to the mainstream, and the car-buying public at large wants crossovers, so here we are. Personally, I’m more upset that, over in Europe, Ford chose to resurrect the Puma as a crossover—I offer this anecdote only to show that, to normal people, we sound a bit obsessed when we complain about stuff like this. (Also, the fact is that plenty of Mustangs have been unexciting cars, as anyone who ever rented a V6-powered one in the mid-2000s will attest.)

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Posted in battery electric car, BEV, car review, cars, Crossover, Features, Ford, Ford Mustang, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Mach-E | Comments (0)

Ford is switching to Android OS for infotainment in 2023

February 1st, 2021
Ford is switching to Android OS for infotainment in 2023

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

On Monday, Ford and Google announced a new partnership that will see the automaker work with Google on in-car technology. Perhaps the biggest news is that Ford is switching to Android for its infotainment systems by 2023. That means future Fords will feature Sync systems that use Google Maps and Android’s excellent voice recognition, as well as opening up the platform to third-party developers. Ford will also use Google Cloud for its connected services, and the two companies will collaborate “to create new experiences for customers.”

It has been a few years since we first knew that Google was using its Android OS to build infotainment systems for automakers. Last year, we got our first proper exposure to a production Android Automotive infotainment system, first in the Polestar 2, then a few months later in the closely related Volvo XC40 Recharge. And later this year, General Motors’ various brands also begin a move to Android Automotive-based infotainment systems.

The user experience in both vehicles stood out from the crowd, particularly due to the extremely effective natural language voice recognition. Unlike voice commands in other vehicles, Android Automotive allows the driver to use voice commands to interact with climate functions as well as pure infotainment tasks, which goes a long way toward ameliorating the distraction danger from an all-touchscreen car interior.

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Posted in Android Automotive, cars, cloud services, Ford, google, Google Cloud Services, infotainment | Comments (0)

In face of federal inaction, California gets five automakers to cut CO2

August 19th, 2020
Cars congest I-10 in Los Angeles late October 2006. That year, the state sued several US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming.

Enlarge / Cars congest I-10 in Los Angeles late October 2006. That year, the state sued several US and Japanese automakers for their alleged contribution to global warming. (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, five automakers signed agreements with California’s Air Resources Board to implement cleaner emissions standards over the next few years. BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo will reduce vehicle emissions between model years 2021 and 2026.

Unlike Europe’s rules, which fine automakers if they exceed a blanket fleet average for the amount of CO2 emitted per km, CARB has different targets for cars and light trucks based on their relative footprint. But each of the five OEMs has agreed to cut the amount of CO2 its vehicles produce per mile by about 17 percent by MY2026. The new agreement is broadly similar to one announced last year, although with a revised timeline that now runs through 2026.

Specifically, CO2 emissions from small cars would drop from 157g/mile in 2021 to 130g/mile in 2026, large cars from 215g/mile to 178g/mile, small light trucks from 195g/mile to 162g/mile, and large light trucks from 335g/mile to 278g/mile, with a formula to adjust vehicles that fall in between the small and large footprint areas. For context, the EU’s new fleet-wide average, which came into effect in 2020, heavily fines any automaker whose fleet average exceeds 152g/mile (95g/km).

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Posted in air pollution, BMW, California air resources board, CARb, carbon dioxide, cars, climate change, CO2 emissions, Ford, honda, Volkswagen Group, volvo | Comments (0)

Ford CEO surprises everyone by retiring after just three years

August 4th, 2020
Two men in business casual stand next to an SUV.

Enlarge / Jim Farley, left, and Jim Hackett at a January 2019 Ford event. (credit: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ford has changed CEOs for the third time in six years, the company announced on Tuesday. Current CEO Jim Hackett will step down in October and be succeeded by his handpicked deputy, Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley.

Hackett made some significant changes to try to make Ford more profitable. Most dramatically, Hackett cancelled most of Ford’s car lineup in the US so the company can focus on its more profitable trucks and SUVs. Ford then announced plans for $11 billion in new investments in electric and hybrid vehicles—even as it laid off almost 20 percent of its European workforce.

“We made some significant decisions in the earliest days that were quite controversial,” Hackett said on a Tuesday conference call. “Getting out of the sedan business was a difficult question.”

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Posted in cars, Ford, Jim Farley, Jim Hackett | Comments (0)