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    Drew Dowdell

    ...offering a wide network of plugs to their EV customers...

    When the Ford Mustang inspired EV SUV goes on sale sometime next year, one challenge it will have to overcome, no matter how good it looks, is charging anxiety by potential customers. 
    Ford is offering an antidote, a way to take away to charging anxiety.  Ford is developing FordPass Charging Network, an easy way to pay as you drive to charge. The network includes more than 12,000 locations with over 35,000 plugs. The FordPass Charging Network is also in collaboration with Electrify America to provide DC Fast Charging.  On a 150-kW charger, drivers can add 47 miles of range in just 10 minutes, and fully charge their battery in the time it takes to have a sit down meal at Olive Garden. FordPass app will help guide drivers to an available charging station and allow for payments directly from the car's dashboard. Ford is offering two years of complimentary access to the FordPass Charging Network to all new Ford EV buyers.
    For those who prefer to charge at home, Ford is offering Ford Connected Charging Stations, a higher powered charger than the standard 240-volt home charger, the Ford charger uses 48 amp service to recharge at a rate of 32 miles per hour rather than the 22 miles of range per hour the 240-volt home charger would provide.  Ford is partnering with Amazon Home Services to offer installations of either standard home chargers or the Ford Connected Charging Stations. Amazon will provide upfront pricing estimates and will allow customers to schedule a licensed and vetted electrician online. 
    Ford is investing $11.5 billion in EV development through 2022.

    Drew Dowdell

    ...takes multiple 'Best in Class'...

    The 2020 F-Series Super Duty has been updated to take on the most difficult challenges. For 2020 it gets a new available PowerStroke V8 diesel displacing 6.8 liters and producing 475 horsepower and 1,050 lb.-ft of torque. The diesel enables the SuperDuty to tow up to 37,000 lbs on a goodneck trailer, 32,500 lbs. using a 5th wheel trailer, conventional towing of 24,200 lbs., and a payload capacity 7,850 lbs. Power is delivered by an all-new 10-speed automatic. 
    The SuperDuty keeps customers connected with a FordPass Connect embedded 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi access for up to 10 devices to keep crews in communication no matter where the job might take them. Modern touches include the addition of wireless charging for compatible mobile phones and USB-C ports to power your devices.
    Standard features on XLT and above Super Duty trim levels include Lane-Keeping Alert to help you stay in your lane and Blind Spot Information System with Trailer Coverage to monitor for vehicles in blind spots – even with one next to your trailer. Also standard on XLT and above is Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking to alert you of potential collisions with vehicles in your path. Should an accident occur, class-exclusive second-row seat belt pretensioners, standard on all Super Duty models, are activated.
    The SuperDuty starts shipping to dealers by the end of the year. 


    Drew Dowdell

    ...all is not well...

    The 2020 Ford Explorer and 2020 Lincoln Aviator are likely the most important vehicles in Ford's lineup after the F-150.  These new SUVs mark a turn for Ford in styling and technology. The problem is, early reports indicate that there is trouble brewing in Chicago, the plant where they are built.
    The two SUVs are just now arriving at dealerships, but have already been the subject of recalls for seats, missing manual park release covers, and other issues.  The issues have become so bad that Ford is trucking them from Chicago to their Flat Rock Assembly for further examination.  Dealers around the country have been notified of delays on their shipments due to unspecified manufacturing issues.  Ford is providing no details on the subject.
    A Ford source involved with the repairs says that Ford is using X-Ray to try and diagnose chassis issues, transmission issues where the vehicle doesn't properly go into Park or not properly activating the parking brake leading to the possibility of a roll-away, air-conditioning systems that blow heat only, Aviators with automatic suspension issues where the vehicle arrives in suspension failure mode, and transmissions that leak so much fluid "it looks like a crime scene".  Aside from the serious issues, even the mundane issues appear; missing badges and trim, or having the wrong wheels. 
    Ford has called in workers from plants in Kentucky, Dearborn, Wayne, and Sterling Heights to help at Flat Rock to complete repairs. Flat Rock normally builds Mustangs and Continentals, but from Friday to Sunday, workers spend their time processing Explorers and Aviators. 
    Ford can't stop production of the vehicles even though they have a build-up of thousands of defective vehicles because the revenue is booked when the vehicle leaves the plant. Stopping production would reduce book revenue this quarter. Ford already was downgraded to junk bond status earlier this week.

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Sharp seats could cut you...

    Ford is recalling 338,332 Ford Explorers across North America for an improperly formed seat frame edge. The recall covers certain 2017 model year Explorers. The seat frame edge is sharp and could cause injury if driver or passenger reaches between the center console and the seat.  Ford is aware of 31 reports of hand injuries related to this recall. Dealers will install a flocked tape and a tab on the inside edge of the power seat frame. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ouch, right in the junk!...

    Moody's Investor Service has downgraded Ford to junk status rating of Ba1, one step below investment grade.  They say that Ford's cash flow and profit margins are below expectations and are expected to remain weak for the next two years.  Outside of the financial sector, Ford is one of the top 15 issuers of corporate bonds.
    The primary cause for concern is a cash crunch brought on by a lengthy restructuring plan that includes closing factories and laying off thousands of workers. Investors are not impressed with CEO Jim Hackett's plans to ditch sedans and revive an aging lineup of SUVs and trucks. All new versions of the Ford Explorer and Ford Escape debuted this year.
    Back in July, Ford issued a disappointing profit forecast as it struggles to compete in China's slowing car market. So far S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings have an investment grade of BBB on Ford, however both firms have a negative outlook on Ford's future. 
    After the Moody's announcement, Ford's shares dived 4.2 percent to $9.14.

    Drew Dowdell

    ...about what you'd expect from a big crossover...

    The Ford Explorer hybrid got its EPA ratings finally. They're an improvement over the base 2.3 liter 4-cylinder delivering 27 city, 29 highway, 28 combined for the most efficient RWD model. That is an improvement of 6 mpg for city and 4 mpg combined. The AWD model comes in a bit lower at 23 city, 26 highway, and 25 combined. Unlike the Lincoln Aviator GT, the Ford Explorer Hybrid is not a plug-in model. 
    Powered by a 3.3 liter V6 plus the electrified drive train, the Explorer hybrid has a lot more power than the 4-cylinder with 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. It comes with the same 10-speed automatic that all Explorers come with. Compared to the 2.3 liter turbo with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, we expect the Hybrid to feel faster and more refined due to the extra torque at the low end from the electric motor. 
    The Explorer Hybrid has more power and torque than its only direct competition, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  The Highlander does slightly better in fuel economy, but comes up 1,500 lbs short in towing capacity, though the next generation Highland Hybrid is supposed to get 34 mpg in front-wheel drive form.
    The Explorer Hybrid is available as a Limited trim model and starts at $51,780 after delivery charge, a $3,555 increase over an equivalent Limited trim. 
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ....Certain Focus and Fiesta years covered...

    Ford is acknowledging the trouble prone Ford Powershift transmission and is extending the warranties on them.  The 6-speed transmission is a dual clutch setup meant to increase fuel economy in Ford's smallest cars.  While a solid idea on paper, customers reported a number of problems with them including slippage, hesitations while accelerating, jerkiness through the gears, difficulty downshifting, and premature wear on the clutch packs. 
    The extended warranty will cover 2014 - 2016 model year Ford Focus, and 2014 - 2015 model year Ford Fiesta and will increase the warranty coverage of the clutch from five years/60,000 miles to seven years/100,000 miles.  Ford will also reimburse customers in this group who have already paid for clutch repairs out of pockets.  The transmission control module will also be warrantied to 10 years/150,000 miles. 
    In addition to that, there is a small group of customers (16%) who need a software update which Ford will provide for free. 
    Affected customers will receive a letter from Ford with instructions on how to proceed.

    Drew Dowdell

    ...restructuring costs a pretty penny...

    Ford's second quarter 2019 income fell 86 percent to just $148 million.  The result is largely due to one-time charges related to its restructuring of operations globally.  Excluding the one-time items, Ford's income before interest and taxes fell just 2% to $1.65 billion.  Global revenue was flat year over year at $38.9 billion.
    The charges are primary caused by plant closures in Europe and South America. Ford has said it would cut 12,000 jobs in Europe by the end of 2020.  Ford's sales in the US have fallen 7 percent, including a large decline in Ford Explorer sales as the company moves the nameplate to a new rear wheel drive platform. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said that the changover was a "bigger endeavor" than overhauling the F-150 to an aluminum body. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...seeking $1.2 billion in damages...

    In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Ford is accused of falsifying fuel economy numbers in the Ford F-150 and Ford Ranger. The suit is seeking class-action status and aims to collect $1.2 Billion in damages.  The law firm, Hagens Berman, says that consumers are spending up to $2,000 more in fuel over the lifetime of the truck due to misleading EPA numbers.
    Back in February of this year, Ford launched an investigation into its own EPA emissions and fuel economy certification process after an anonymous tip line at Ford received concerns that there were issues with the test. The concern surrounds Road Load, a vehicle-specific resistance level used in dynamometer testing. Too much or too little resistance will alter the results of the emissions and fuel economy. Road load is determined through engineering estimates that are then validated on the track.
    Ford already hired an outside firm to investigate their testing, with the Ranger the first to go through re-testing.   The suit alleges that the F-150, by far Ford's best selling vehicle, is also subject to the same issue as the Ranger.
    Ford is declining to comment on the lawsuit at this time. 


    Drew Dowdell

    ...F-150 EV Prototype tows more than 1 million pounds...

    Elon Musk has been pretty vocal about the coming Tesla Pickup, making claims that it will be better than an F-150 and be able to tow 300,000 lbs.  So far, however, Tesla's pickup truck is vaporware that can't even be seen yet.
    Ford meanwhile, has been working hard on an EV version of their F-150, and unlike the Tesla truck, it can be seen.  Rather than talk smack, Ford made its actions louder than words.  They linked up 10 double-decker rail cars filled with 42 2019 F-150s weighing in at more than one million pounds, that's more than 1000 ft of train and trucks,  and then tied that to the back of the F-150 EV prototype.  And the all electric F-150 did the pull twice. Naturally, there is a disclaimer at the bottom saying that the truck is towing way more than any production truck's capacity.  But if you're ever wondering if the "Built Ford Tough" slogan is true, here's your video proof of it.
    Ford Plans on introducing seven electric vehicles by 2022, including an all-new EV "performance utility" with styling inspired by the Mustang for 2020 with a rumored 370 mile range.  Ford has also invested $500 million into startup truck and SUV maker Rivian to gain access to Rivian's skateboard platform. 

    William Maley

    ..Is expected to be sold in the U.S. and other markets..

    Ford is planning a dramatic change to their European lineup. Autocar reported yesterday that the automaker will be replacing the Mondeo (Fusion to us), Galaxy, and S-Max with a new "single crossover-style estate model" - think Subaru Outback.
    Not many details are known about this new model. It is expected to use Ford's C2 platform which underpins the new Fiesta and Focus. A range of gas and diesel engines will be available, along with 48V mild-hybrid system. The new wagon is expected to arrive in early 2021 in Europe. Autocar notes that this model is expected to be sold in other markets such as North America.
    While this model is quite different from three it will replace (a midsize sedan/hatchback/wagon and two vans), it is expected to outsell all of them. Last year, Ford only moved 50,000 Mondeos, 24,000 S-Maxs, and 12,000 Galaxy. Numbers according to Autocar that are too small to make any profit.
    As for the U.S., the reason is likely due to Ford to possibly keep sedan buyers in the showroom. Last July, we reported that Ford was considering doing an "Outback competitor" with the Fusion name. 
    Source: Autocar

    Drew Dowdell

    ...this is on top of the layoff already announced...

    Ford of Europe announced Thursday that the company would be laying off around 12,000 employees as part of a global restructuring.  This is on top of the layoffs Ford previously announced earlier this year.  Ford says it will reduce the number of plants in the region to 18 and reorganize its business into three divisions; Commercial, Passenger, and Imports such as the Ford Mustang.
    Most of the positions in Europe will be eliminated via voluntary separation programs and should be completed by the end of 2020. Of the jobs lost, 2,000 will be salary and another 5,000 will be white color positions. 
    Ford is struggling to make its European operations profitable against a backdrop of stagnant sales in the EU.  Ford of Europe says that in future, all new vehicles will come with an electrified version, be that a full EV or a hybrid. 
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...Europe only for now...

    The Ford Puma sold in Europe was once a little coupe based on the Ford Fiesta.   Since coupe sales are dangerously close to zero, when Ford decided to reincarnate the name, it instead brought it back as a crossover coupe version of the Ford EcoSport.
    The new Puma will be powered by a 1.0 liter, 125 horsepower engine with 48-volt mild hybrid setup or a more powerful 155 horsepower system horsepower running through the front wheels.  Diesel options will come later. Under the rear floor is a storage area with a drain plug that Ford calls a Megabox, something probably more appropriate for an F-150. 
    It will come with Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition, and Lane Centering. The driver cluster is a full TFT digital display. Sync3 with Android Auto and Apple Car Play are standard. 
    No word yet on whether the Ford Puma will come to the US, but given the crossover craze going on here, we would not bet against it.  If it does come to the US, the direct competition would come from the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Kona, and Honda HR-V. 
     
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...World's most power-dense supercharged production engine...

    Ford confirmed today that the all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will boast a 5.2 liter supercharged V8 producing 760 horsepower and 625 lb.-ft of torque making it the most power-dense and torque-dense production supercharged production engine in the world.  It is also the most powerful street legal Ford ever built.

     
    The engine is a hand built aluminum V8 that features a lower center of gravity by inverting the intercooler into the valley of the engine. The oil pan is structural and has active baffles to keep oil in the right place during hard maneuvering.   Power is fed to the rear wheels via a 7-Speed TREMEC dual-clutch transmission that can change gears in under 100 milliseconds. Rotational weight is further reduced by the use of a carbon fiber driveshaft. 
    You can read more about the Mustang Shelby GT500 below:
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...more F-150 Buyers opting for Ecoboost...

    Ford said that it would be cutting a shift from its Essex Engine Plant in Ontario starting in October.  Ford says the move will "better align with consumer demand".  The likely cause? Ford F-150 buyers are shifting more of their purchases away from the 5.0 liter V8.
    F-150 buyers have a choice of 5 engines when selecting a truck, the 2.7-liter Ecoboost, the 3.3-liter V6, the 3.5-liter Ecoboost, and now a 3.0-liter PowerStroke Diesel, all in addition to the 5.0-liter V8, and the customer mix appears to be skewing towards the smaller displacement engines.
    The cut in shifts will not result in job cuts as those workers will be transitioned to another engine plant to build the 7.3-liter engine due to be installed in the 2020 Ford Super Duties. That transition will happen in November of this year. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...$801 million in Earnings...

    Ford reported first quarter operating earnings of $801m, up $160m over the same quarter last year.  The company says that it expects this quarter to be the strongest quarter of the year due to seasonal factors and major product launches later this year.  However, the company says it still expects to finish 2019 better than 2018.
    Outside of North America, Ford is still losing money, but those losses are shrinking.  Ford recently announced a restructuring plan for Europe that included over 6,000 layoffs. 
    Also in the earnings report, Ford revealed that the company is subject to a criminal investigation by the Justice Department due to its emissions certifications. We recently reported that Ford had launched its own internal investigation into its emissions certification process. 
    Ford's stock rose more than 6% in premarket trading. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...no plans for the US...

    Back in January, during the Detroit Auto Show, we found a sign that Ford was preparing a plug-in hybrid Ford Explorer even though it hadn't been officially announced.   A few days ago, Ford did officially unveil it as a Europe only model.
    The Ford Explorer Plug-in looks to be using the same running gear as the Lincoln Aviator GT, a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6 plus electric motor that produces around 444 horsepower and 620 lb-ft of torque running through its specialized 10-speed transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.  It is able to run for about 25 miles in EV-only mode.
    Under the cargo floor is a 13.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, slightly smaller than the battery in the now canceled Chevrolet Volt. 
    The plug-in version will only be available on the S-Line and Platinum trim lines. 
    Read more about the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator below.
     
    Ford of Europe Press Release on Page 2
    FORD UNVEILS ALL-NEW EXPLORER PLUG-IN HYBRID SUV WITH 40 KM (25 MILES) ZERO-EMISSION CITY DRIVING RANGE
    All-new Ford Explorer Plug-In Hybrid seven-seat sports utility vehicle to go on sale in Europe later this year Electrified powertrain combines 3.0‑litre EcoBoost petrol engine, electric motor and battery for 450 PS, 840 Nm of torque, and 40 km (25 miles) pure-electric city driving range Vehicle is all-new to Europe and features as standard new Reverse Brake Assist as well as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring Luxurious interior offers 10.1-inch touchscreen for SYNC 3 connectivity and features as standard FordPass Connect modem, B&O Sound System, easy-to-operate flexible seating Versatility, capability and refinement optimised with 10-speed automatic transmission, Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, and Terrain Management System with selectable Drive Modes AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, April. 2, 2019 – The all-new Ford Explorer SUV today made its European debut at a special “Go Further” event in Amsterdam, Netherlands, as Ford announced a unique plug-in hybrid version of America’s all-time best selling SUV will go on sale in Europe later this year.
    The all-new Ford Explorer Plug-In Hybrid will be offered in two distinctive, high-specification, left-hand drive variants – the sporty, Ford Performance-inspired Explorer ST-Line and the luxurious Explorer Platinum. Both are powered by a combination of Ford’s 3.0‑litre EcoBoost V6 petrol engine, electric motor and generator to deliver 450 PS and 840 Nm of torque, alongside pure-electric driving capability.
    Standard Ford Intelligent All-Wheel drive technology supported by seven Drive Modes and Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission optimises performance in scenarios from urban driving to off-road. A refined and confidence-inspiring driving experience is enhanced with sophisticated driver assistance technologies as standard, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring functionalities.
    The exceptionally spacious, luxurious, comfort-focussed interior offers advanced features including a 10.1‑inch central portrait-mounted touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display. Families can get the most from road trips with versatile load and seating configurations and family-friendly innovations such as easy entrance and exit to the third row seats using just one hand.
    “I am very excited about the iconic Ford Explorer coming to Europe. The all-new Explorer comes with unstoppable design and phenomenal specification. The most versatile SUV we have ever offered for customers in the region is able to carry seven adults in comfort, tow a 2,500 kg trailer with ease, and still deliver 40 km (25 miles) zero-emissions city driving range,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe. “Technologies like our 10.1-inch touchscreen and Reverse Brake Assist debut in Europe to make the Explorer Plug-In Hybrid supremely rewarding and easy to drive.”
    New from the ground-up the all-new sixth generation Ford Explorer was unveiled for customers in the U.S. earlier this year. First introduced in 1991, Explorer kick-started in the U.S. the rapid growth of the SUV segment that has now become immensely successful worldwide.
    Zero-emission driving
    The all-new Explorer Plug-In Hybrid delivers the energy-efficiency, refinement and performance benefits of an electrified powertrain in many driving scenarios, while maintaining the driving range of a traditional combustion engine. An electric-only urban cycle driving range of 40 km (25 miles) qualifies for tax breaks in some markets.
    Ford’s 350 PS 3.0-litre EcoBoost engine is supported by a 100 PS electric motor. The 13.1 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged using a charging port located on the front left-hand side fender between the door and wheel arch. In addition, the battery is automatically replenished on the move using regenerative charging technology that captures kinetic energy normally lost during braking.
    The electric motor enables the Explorer to deliver zero-emission, pure-electric driving capability, and drivers can choose when and how to deploy battery power using EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later and EV Charge modes. When the battery reaches its lowest state-of-charge, the Explorer automatically reverts to EV Auto mode – supplementing petrol engine power with electric motor assistance using recaptured energy for optimised fuel-efficiency. The Explorer Plug-In Hybrid will deliver anticipated 78 g/km CO2 emissions and 3.4 l/100 km fuel efficiency.*
    The Explorer Plug-In Hybrid’s parallel hybrid architecture also enables the full combined power and torque of both petrol engine and electric motor to be deployed simultaneously for enhanced performance on- and off-road, and 2,500 kg towing capability. Ford’s sophisticated 10-speed automatic transmission further optimises fuel-efficiency and refinement.
    “The Explorer is a true SUV – designed for families with a real sense of adventure – so it was essential that the Explorer Plug-In Hybrid featured a powertrain that could haul anything from boats to horseboxes,” said Matthias Tonn, Explorer chief programme engineer for Europe. “We specifically chose a parallel hybrid architecture that lets drivers use all 450 PS and 840 Nm of torque. We’ve even added a more advanced version of our Blind Spot Information System, that covers a 10 metre trailer.”
    Advanced Intelligent All-Wheel Drive technology every 10 milliseconds analyses inputs from dozens of sensors, including vehicle speed and yaw, ambient air temperature, wheel slip and towing status to determine whether additional traction is needed. An all-new single speed transfer case featuring an electro-mechanical torque clutch can seamlessly adjust torque delivery between the front and rear wheels within 100 milliseconds for a more secure footing on the road. Like the 10-speed automatic transmission, the system uses adaptive learning algorithms to continually adjust responses for optimised refinement.
    The Terrain Management System uses selectable Drive Modes to enable customers to tailor their drive experience to road, weather and terrain conditions on demand, including Normal, Sport, Trail, Slippery, Tow/Haul, Eco, and Deep Snow and Sand modes – with each Drive Mode featuring a unique graphical display in the 12.3-inch instrument cluster. Hill Descent Control also helps make light work of off-road terrain.
    Stress-free journeys in town and country
    Sophisticated driver assistance technologies contribute to a refined and intuitive driving experience for Explorer Plug-In Hybrid customers, including features designed to make it easier to drive a large vehicle in urban environments.
    Available Active Park Assist 2 enables fully-automated manoeuvres into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces at the push of a button. The system identifies suitable parking spaces and the driver can control vehicle motion by simply selecting neutral and holding down a single centre console-mounted button. The vehicle then fully controls forward and reverse gear selection, throttle and braking, as well as steering to manoeuvre into spaces before engaging park. The technology can also help drivers exit parallel parking spaces using fully automated Park-out Assist.
    Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them, and can apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions if drivers do not respond to warnings. In addition, Reverse Brake Assist uses radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect an object in the vehicle’s path, and can apply the brakes automatically to avoid an imminent collision when the vehicle is backing up at a low speed – such as when exiting a driveway. Also helping drivers negotiate awkward scenarios, rear-view and front-view cameras with built-in lens cleaners combine with additional cameras mounted beneath the door mirrors to provide a 360-degree view around the vehicle projected on to the central display.
    Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection technology can detect people and cyclists in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path, and automatically apply the brakes if it detects a potential collision and the driver does not respond to warnings.
    Stop-start traffic, highway driving and long distance road trips are made less stressful using Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane-Centring. The technology helps the Explorer Plug-In Hybrid maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead and can help keep the vehicle centred in its lane. In addition, the technology can adjust the vehicle speed to within legal limits by monitoring the roadside and overhead gantries for speed signs in addition to using information from the on-board navigation system.
    Stop & Go enables the ACC system to bring the vehicle to a complete halt in stop-start traffic, and automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than 3 seconds. For stopping durations greater than 3 seconds, the driver can push a steering wheel button or gently apply the accelerator pull away.
    Lane-Centring technology monitors road markings and can apply gentle but discernible torque to the steering system to help drivers stay centred in their lane whenever the ACC system is activated. Designed to support drivers at speeds up to 200 km/h (125 mph), the technology will deliver visual and audible warnings if it detects a lack of steering wheel input from the driver.
    Further technologies to help drivers avoid or mitigate the effects of accidents include Ford’s Lane-Keeping System, and Evasive Steering Assist that provides steering support to help avoid a collision. Post-Impact Braking provides braking after a collision to lessen injury and damage caused by a secondary crash event.
    “It’s not about filling the vehicle with technology for technology’s sake,” said Torsten Wey, manager, Driver Assistance and Safety Technology, Ford of Europe. “It’s about improving the experience, making driving less stressful, and helping the driver to feel more confident behind the wheel.”
    Capable and comfortable
    Standing more than 5 metres long, 2 metres wide and almost 2 metres high, the all-new Explorer Plug-In Hybrid delivers the luxury of space for up to seven occupants in three rows of seats.
    First and second row passengers benefit from more than 1 metre of headroom and legroom, and more than 1.5 metres of shoulder room. Offering 96 centimetres headroom, more than 1 metre of shoulder room and more than 83 centimetres legroom, the third row of seats can also easily accommodate adults in comfort.
    Standard Easy Fold Seats with Power Raise for the third row and Easy Fold Seats for the second row fold flat to create a cargo area that offers 2,274 litres of load space. The interior offers 123 litres of stowage space throughout the cabin, giving passengers in all three rows no shortage of places to stow personal items – alongside no less than 12 cupholders.
    A rotary gear shift dial for the 10-speed automatic transmission; heated and cooled 10-way power adjustable front seats; heated second row seats; wireless charging pad for compatible devices; heated steering wheel; retractable second row sunshades; and second and third row privacy glass are among the comfort enhancing features delivered as standard. Platinum models also feature a 14-speaker, 1000-watt premium B&O Sound System as standard, with a 12-speaker, 800-watt premium B&O Sound System for ST-Line variants.
    FordPass Connect embedded modem technology turns the Explorer Plug-In Hybrid into a mobile WiFi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices. In addition to helping drivers plan faster, less stressful journeys with Live Traffic updates for the navigation system and enabling occupants to stream entertainment on the move, FordPass Connect allows a range of convenient features via the FordPass mobile app, including:
    Vehicle Locator, helping owners find their SUV in sprawling shopping mall car parks Vehicle Status, for checking fuel levels, alarm status, oil life and more Door Lock Unlock, to remotely allow access to your vehicle Remote Start** The 10.1-inch portrait mounted touchscreen – standard for the Platinum variant – enables navigation maps to fill the entire screen for easy viewing, or split the space with audio information. The screen uses capacitive glass comparable to that used in smartphones and tablets, providing a quicker, more responsive interaction with the SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system, which also allows drivers to control audio, navigation and climate functions plus connected smartphones using simple voice commands.
    The touch screen shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster, configured to support drivers in getting the most from their Explorer Plug-In Hybrid powertrain with dedicated screens including power flow, charging and energy-efficiency coaching. An 8‑inch central touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster are standard for the ST-Line variant.
    Stylish, modern design
    A number of consistent design qualities have helped define Explorer during 29 years of success in the U.S., and the design team strived to hold on to these important pieces of heritage when designing the all-new generation. Longtime traits include Explorer’s blacked-out front and rear window pillars. A sporty, stylish appearance is achieved using a sloping roofline and short front overhang.
    The Explorer Plug-In Hybrid comes standard with bold 20-inch alloy wheels with black machined finish for ST-Line models and tarnished dark machined finish for Platinum models.
    ST-Line models feature a gloss black finish one-piece grille, and high gloss black for the roof rails tailgate applique and door claddings. The interior also features red accent stitching for seats, floor mats and sporty flat-bottom steering wheel, as well as carbon fibre-effect appliques for the instrument panel.
    Platinum models feature a satin finish one-piece grille, and satin finish for the roof rails tailgate applique and door claddings. The interior also adds real wood appliques for the instrument panel.
    “Massive charisma and unprecedented road presence come as standard with our all-new Explorer Plug-In Hybrid,” Matthias Tonn said. “With distinctive ST-Line and Platinum variants available, customers can find the right option to suit their personality.”
    # # #

    Drew Dowdell

    ...could swell to Dodge Challenger size...

    According to a report in Automobile Magazine, the Ford Mustang could move to the CD6 platform that underpins the 2020 Ford Explorer, but the soonest that would happen is 2026. The CD6 platform also underpins the Lincoln Aviator and will be used in the next generation Ford Edge.
    One of the side effects of moving to the new platform is that the Mustang would become much larger and heavier than the current S550 platform car, possibly up to the length of the Dodge Challenger.  Currently, the Mustang is 188.3 inches long and rides on a 107.1 inch wheelbase, while the Challenger clocks in nearly 10 inches longer at 197.9 inches with a 116.2 inch wheelbase.  The widths of the two cars are pretty much dead on.
    Part of the reason the Challenger is so large is because it is built on the same full-size sedan platform as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. Chevy had the same issue with the 5th generation Camaro which was built on a full-size sedan platform shared with the Pontiac G8.  While Ford would be taking that a step further by using an SUV platform, the CD6 architecture is said to be flexible enough to build a 2-door sports coupe upon.
    Sources differ on when this CD6 platform Mustang, code-named S650, will appear, but they range from 2026 to 2029.  So either way it is clear that the current car has a lot of life left in it.   Ford apparently has a major refresh planned that will include all new sheet metal and underbody work. That refresh will also be where the hybrid Mustang appears. There is also the second Ecoboost 4-cylinder coming that we have yet to get details on.  You can read more below. 
    Related:
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...we don't have a name, but now we have a range...

    Ford revealed during a debut event for its European electrified models that the as-yet-unnamed Mustang inspired electrified crossover will have a range of 370 miles when it arrives in 2020, but those are using the WTLP cycle, and the EPA range rating could be lower.  Ford has previously stated they were targeting a range of 300 miles, so a good guess for the EPA range would be somewhere between those two numbers.  Ford has recently trademarked the name "Mach-E" and "Mustang Mach-E". Could this be a name for this new EV crossover? Time will tell. 
    Earlier in 2019, Ford stated that all future vehicle will have an electrified version, something borne out by yesterdays unveiling of the 2020 Ford Escape with two hybrid variants. 
    Ford also teased us with the Puma, a compact crossover set to slot between the Ecosport and Kuga, the Euro version of the Escape.  The Puma uses a 48-volt batter and a belt-alternator-starter system mated to a 1.0 liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine. No word yet if the Puma will make it to the U.S., but with pint-sized crossovers selling so well in the U.S., we'd not be surprised to see it here in the near future. (Click image to enlarge)

    Drew Dowdell

    ... heading to Escapeville...

    Ford unveiled the completely redesigned 2020 Ford Escape today ahead of its official showing at the New York Auto Show in two weeks.  Some of the biggest news about the Escape comes under the hood where 4 new powertrains debut. 
    The standard engine will be a 1.5 liter Ecoboost 3-cylinder that can run as a 2 cylinder during light load situations.  The engine is projected to produce 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque when fueled with premium gas. This is the first Ford engine with cylinder deactivation. The engine will be standard issue on S, SE, and SEL level trims. When properly equipped, the 1.5T will tow up to 2,000 lbs. 
    For those wanting more power, the Titanium trim will have a 250 horsepower, 275 lb-ft Ecoboost displacing 2.0 liters and coming standard with AWD. When running 93 octane, Ford says it will propel the Escape to 60 10% faster than the outgoing model. Towing for the 2.0T is maximum rated at 3,500 lbs. Both Ecoboost engines send power to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic.
    For the Eco-minded the hybrid returns to the Escape lineup after a 7 year absence, also joined by a plug-in variant.  The Plug-in uses an all new 2.5 liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle hybrid engine paired with a CVT.  The combined output of the hybrid is rated at 198 horsepower and is capable of 85 mph in electric only mode. The hybrid will be available only on the SE Sport and Titanium trim.
    The Plug-in hybrid will be available on SE, SEL, and Titanium trims. It will have an electric only range of 30 miles. Level 1 and Level 2 charging are available. Level 1 110 volt outlet takes 10 to 11 hours for a full charge from empty, switching to level 2 cuts that time to about 3.5 hours. Total system power increases over the standard hybrid to 209 horsepower, but will not be available with All-wheel drive. 
    Both hybrid models feature 4 EV modes that allow the driver to adjust drive settings to the most suitable for conditions and needs.
    Auto EV mode - the vehicle decides whether to run on gasoline or electric power. EV Now Mode - the vehicle operates on all-electric drive. EV Later Mode - the vehicle operates on gasoline power to conserve electric miles for later EV Charge Mode - the vehicle operates on gasoline and recharges the battery for later EV only mode. Helping on the efficiency front, Ford designers made the most aerodynamic Escape ever.  They made a more sloped roofline and strake, an efficient underbody, and an optimized liftgate spoiler. Overall, the 2020 Escape is 200lbs lighter than its predecessor.  The new Escape is longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing model. The two ecoboost engines boast a range of 400 miles per tank, while the standard hybrid with FWD aims for a range of 550 miles. 
    Inside, Ford engineers optimized space to increase headroom and cargo capacity.  With the second row in the fully forward position, the rear cargo area can accommodate 4 golf bags or a full size dog crate. 
    On the safety front, the Escape comes with Ford Co-Pilot 360 standard.  Other technologies like Adaptive Cruise and Lane-Centering are available.  Passengers are entertained via an 8-inch touch screen standard on SE and above. The gauge cluster is a 12.3 inch all digital system that uses 3D animated graphic to indicate drive mode. 
    The 2020 Ford Escape will reach dealers in the fall with the Plug-in Hybrid variant due in Spring 2020. 
    We will have more of the 2020 Ford Escape from the New York Auto Show on April 17th.
     
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ... here are a few teasers to hold you until then.

    Ford is getting ready to introduce a new Escape for the 2020 model year on April 2nd.  The compact crossover is one of Ford's best sellers, moving as many as 308,296 units in 2017.  The growth trend has stalled though and sales dipped to around 272k units last year.  The current generation went on sale in 2013 and was facelifted for 2017, but since then, new editions of the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equiniox, updated Jeep Cherokee, and Toyota RAV-4 have hit the market.
    Ford offered a teaser video via twitter today that gives some hints as to what to expect from the 2020 Escape. 


    The 2020 VIN decoder shows that the current 2.5 liter 4-cylinder will not be making a return, instead replaced with the 1.5T that will carry over.  The 2.0T also remains as an upgrade.  Hybrid fans can rejoice because after a 7 year absence a hybrid will be returning to the lineup and will also be joined by a Plug-In Hybrid option like the Lincoln Corsair.  No word yet on the range of the PHEV.
    We'll hear the whole story about the Ford Escape on April 2nd. 
     


    Drew Dowdell

    .... more cuts for Ford.

    Ford will exit Russia's passenger car market and focus solely on the light commercial vehicle market says a report from Bloomberg.  Alligned with those moves, Ford will cease production in the country at two vehicle assembly plants.  Those plants will close by the end of June 2019.  Ford produces the Focus, Mondeo, Fiesta, and Ecosport in Russia.
    These cuts will cause significant job losses for Russia.  This move comes after Ford announced as many as 6,000 job cuts in Germany and the UK  and cut jobs at a transmission factory in France. 
    Honda, Nissan, and BMW have all recently announced cuts or closures in European operations.
    Related:
     

    Drew Dowdell

    ...sales have surged 35%

    Ford is adding 550 workers to their Kentucky plant that builds the Navigator and Expedition in order to meet surging retail demand for the big SUVs.  Retail sales were up 35% which has netted Ford a 5.6% gain in market-share for the Expedition.  The Navigator is doing even better with a 70% increase in sales. 
    Ford has already increased line speed and split some jobs to multiple people in an attempt to increase  production. Vehicle production will be increased after the July shutdown. 
    Along with the increase in production, Ford will be starting an advertising campaign focusing on the size and spaciousness of the Expedition.  
    Ford increasing job and production in the US stands in sharp contrast to the steep cuts of over 6,000 jobs Ford announced for Europe. 

    Drew Dowdell

    ...trying to pull EU operations back to profitability

    Ford's operations in Europe books a 351€ billion loss for 2018 in contrast to a 324€ billion profit the year prior.  Already in the midst of a major restructuring, Ford has now announced job cuts in Germany and the UK.
    Ford employs roughly 24,000 people in Germany with expectations to lower that by 5,000 to 19,000 total. Most of the cuts are expected to come from voluntary redundancies and early retirement.   Ford aims to make the cuts "in the most socially responsible way possible."
    In addition to the German job loses, another 1,150 employees will lose their positions in the UK. 
    Ford has already shuttered an assembly plant in France and cut its vehicle lineup. 
    Ford's moves follow that of Honda which is closing its plant in Swindon, Nissan which is reducing output in Sunderland, Infiniti leaving Western Europe and Volkswagen laying off 7,000 workers.

    dfelt

    Obscure Legal question could decide the fate of Ford's small vans in America.

    In the latest round of Trade War rhetoric is a question that has ended up in the courts, when is a passenger van really a cargo van and does this tariff engineering really justify getting around the 25% chicken tax?
    In response to President Donald Trump's tariff war, automakers are find interesting ways to play the grey area of the legal system. According to BNN Bloomberg and Bloomberg news, trade attorneys are closely watching the Ford Motor Co. legal case play out in federal court. This case deals with the importation of passenger vans that are then stripped down once they clear customs and sold as cargo vans. The difference here is that Ford pays 2.5% import duty on passenger vans versus te 25% import duty on light trucks / cargo vans. This challenge against Ford brought by U.S. Customs is challenging the practice of tariff engineering. The art of building a product one way, then changing it once cleared by customs for another use. With all the increased tariffs imposed by the Trump administration this could have critical impact on a region that many automakers have used to bring in a profitable product for market needs. 
    According to the news stories, a ruling by the Court of International Trade ruled in Ford's favor in 2017 but is being challenged by the administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Regardless if the U.S. and China come to terms for a new trade agreement, there are no promises that the in place tariffs would be repealed. Ford's argument is that tariff engineering is a legitimate maneuvers for firms exploring ways to mitigate duties by project reclassification, shifting production to other countries which changes the origins of product assembly.
    Trade lawyers across the country say this case will help establish legal guidelines for tariff engineering. To quote the story from BNN Bloomberg: 
    The U.S. Court of International Trade has stated that under the well-established customs law, manufacturers can intentionally make a product that can avoid higher tariffs with simple changes. What cannot be done is situations such as hiding a higher quality product in a lower quality product like high grade tobacco inside a case of lower grade tobacco. This case has come down to the wording on the import paperwork of "principally designed for the transport of persons". The current administration says this is a scheme for avoiding taxes and local jobs. Ford argues that the goods must be classified in their condition as imported, regardless of later alterations and ended use by consumers.
    Appeals court is expected to rule in the coming weeks.

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