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Ford Fixes Powertrains – But Faces Platform Challenges

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Ford Fixes Powertrains – But Faces Platform Challenges

Ford is betting big on batteries. During a news conference at its Rawsonville assembly plant, the automaker updated plans to put at least five electric vehicles into production over the next couple years, including both battery-electric and plug-in hybrid models.

But there's a yin to the yang of Ford's push into green technology, as it's demonstrating with the return of the new 5.0-liter Mustang. At 412 horsepower, the eight-banger is pushing into what was, not all that long ago, supercar territory. Perhaps even more impressive is the 305 horsepower of the Mustang's new 3.7-liter V6, especially when you consider it's rated at over 30 mpg in highway driving.

Add the array of EcoBoost powertrains – from the little inline-four up to the V6 going into next year's F-150 – and it's not out of line to say Ford is in the midst of a serious powertrain renaissance.

That's all the more significant when you consider where the automaker was, just a few years ago. Says one senior technical executive, "We were building crap." Long-time auto analyst Maryann Keller was only a bit more polite – even though she sounded almost like Chicken Little, endlessly warning that the sky would fall if Ford didn't start upgrading its engine line-up.

The old Mustang V6 was a great example why: it was slow, not very fuel efficient and sounded like it needed an industrial-size asthma inhaler whenever you tried to goose it into action.

Is Ford's new powertrain line-up the best in the industry? Probably not. It's hard to beat the offerings of makers like Audi, BMW, Nissan and Honda. But Ford is finally competitive, and here we don't mean that as faint praise. By the end of 2011, when all its new engine offerings are on the road, Ford will have little to apologize for.



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