Ford GT glows in the Land of the Midnight Sun

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Ford’s marketing department has been producing a series of videos called “Europe’s Greatest Driving Roads,” starring, to date, a Focus ST, Focus RS, a pair of Mustangs, and a Fiesta ST chewing up the beautiful scenery. Now the Ford GT is ready for its close-up, close to the Arctic Circle in Norway.

Ford took a Triple Yellow GT, the color of the sun, to the Land of the Midnight Sun to drive the Atlantic Ocean Road, a road and series of dramatic bridges that connect the towns of Kårvåg and Vevang.

The trip to Norway is the seventh installment of the video series, and it puts a gorgeous, nearly unattainable supercar in a gorgeous, remote place.

“The Atlantic Ocean Road has to be driven to be believed. Only the most hardened cynic could fail to be unmoved by a journey across scenery of such unimaginable beauty,” said automotive journalist Steve Sutcliffe, who hosts each travelogue. “I had to break our rating system on this occasion, and score the road 11/10 for scenery. What else can you do on a route where you can actually see whales when you are driving along?”

The trip was also an occasion for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver and Le Mans veteran Stefan Mücke to set a new lap record at the Arctic Circle Raceway. The 655 PS Ford GT he drove has a top speed of 216 mph.

[Source: Autoblog]

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Ford goes super luxe with F-Series Super Duty Limited

 

Ford, sensing rising demand for high-end trucks, on Thursday unveiled its new Super Duty Limited trim for its F-Series trucks, marrying luxury-segment features such as heated two-tone leather seats and finished wood trim to its workingman line of heavy-duty pickups.

Ford says its new F-450 Limited can tow more than 30,000 pounds, near the weight of an Air Force F-35 fighter plane or a motor home RV, yet it “delivers technology and comfort previously reserved only in premium flagship sedans.” The company said more than half of retail sales of its Super Duty lineup so far in 2017 have been high-end model like the Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum series.

“There are heavy-duty truck customers who need Super Duty-level capability and want true luxury,” said Todd Eckert, Ford Truck group marketing manager. “We created this new truck to answer the call for even more premium choices in the Super Duty range as we see more and more truck customers trending to more premium models.”

Inside the cab, Super Duty Limited gets you custom Camelback two-tone leather seats, stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, armrests and instrument panel, a suede headliner and hand-finished dark ash trim. The exterior brings a twin-bar satin grille with chrome accents, quad-beam LED lights and satin-finished tailgate appliqué. A further perk is the VIN number laser-etched on the center console armrest. Standard features include high-definition 360-degree camera, SYNC 3 entertainment system and adaptive cruise control and steering.

Prices for the Super Duty Limited start at around $80,000 for the F-250 4×4 and top out around $94,455 for full options. Ford says a crew cab version fitted with a 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 will arrive this winter. You can read our first-drive review of the 2017 Super Duty pickup here.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford, Lyft will partner to deploy self-driving cars

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Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride services company’s network in large numbers by 2021.

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them, Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Reuters. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network.

He did not say when Ford and Lyft expect to offer the first rides in self-driving cars.

“We’re not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes,” Marakby said, adding Ford intends to ultimately put thousands of self-driving vehicles in use.

Ford’s new Chief Executive Jim Hackett is scheduled to meet with investors on Tuesday to outline the Dearborn, Mich. automaker’s strategy for boosting profitability. Ford shares are down 1.65 percent so far this year, while Detroit rival General Motors Co’s shares have risen 15.6 percent, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares are up 71 percent.

Hackett’s plans to compete for revenue from mobility services, which include car sharing and ride-hailing, will be one area of focus for investors. The Lyft partnership fills in a piece of the puzzle.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years.

The company has said it will invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self driving vehicles.

Lyft has said it will offer an open platform for companies to deploy self-driving vehicles on its network, and has partnerships with self driving vehicle technology startup Drive.ai and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self driving car unit.

GM has a 9 percent stake in Lyft, acquired for $500 million in January 2016. “Our relationship with GM has always been a non-exclusive relationship,” Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer, told Reuters.

GM is also assembling the assets necessary to launch its own ride services using self-driving cars, building its Maven car-sharing unit and preparing to launch mass production of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric cars at a factory in suburban Detroit.

[Soure: Autoblog]

Ford ditching three-cylinder EcoBoost engine for Fiesta in U.S.

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Cheap gasoline and Americans’ insatiable appetite for big SUVs and trucks continue to wreak havoc on automakers’ once-rosy plans for small cars in the U.S. Case in point: Ford will reportedly do away with its heralded 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine as an option in the 2018 Fiesta subcompact.

The tiny workhorse earned Autoblog’s praises back in 2014 as a Technology of the Year finalist for its combination of power (123 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque) and impressive fuel economy. It’ll live on in other global markets but won’t return as an option in the U.S. market based on low demand, the website CarsDirect reports. A Ford spokesman said the move away from the three-cylinder was based on customer demand.

As we’ve previously written, the Fiesta is a global car that’s fared better in overseas markets than in the U.S., where cheap gas prices have helped nudge consumers back to SUVs and pickups. There have even been suggestions the subcompact might not be offered in the U.S. at all. For 2018, the Fiesta we get here is a continuation of the model built in Cuautitlan Assembly Plant, Mexico, with the deletion of the three-cylinder as the only big change. A next-generation Fiesta has been introduced in Europe, the Middle Eastand Africa, but it remains to be seen if or when that car will make it to the U.S. market.

The decision to drop the three-cylinder EcoBoost as an option leaves the naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder as the only option for U.S. Fiesta buyers. Yet the three-cylinder delivers 36 more pound-feet of torque and 3 more horses. It also outperforms on fuel economy, with an EPA rating of 31 mpg city and 43 on the highway, compared to 27/35.

Ford also offers a three-cylinder 1.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine for the 2018 Fiesta ST that delivers 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque.

The automaker still lists the 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost as an option on the 2018 Focus sedan and hatch, which will be available domestically.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford to explore strategic partnership with Indian automaker Mahindra

Ford Motor Co. said Monday it has agreed to explore a strategic alliance with India’s Mahindra Group as a way to strengthen its presence in India and help Mahindra expand into other global markets.

Terms laid out in a joint statement call for working together for up to three years in areas including mobility, connected vehicles, electric vehicles and product development. Ford wants to strengthen its distribution in India’s $30 billion auto market, which is expected to become the world’s third-largest by 2020, according to Automotive News. Mahindra, meanwhile, would benefit from Ford’s reach in other emerging markets.

“Teams from both companies will collaborate and work together for a period of up to three years. Any further strategic cooperation between the two companies will be decided at the end of that period,” the companies said.

Ford is among the top exporters of cars from India, with vehicle and engine plants in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Sanand, Gujarat. The country is also Ford’s second-largest worker base globally, with more than 14,000 employees. The company has invested more than $2 billion in India and plans further spending to establish a global engineering enter in Chennai to tweak products for the local market and more quickly adapt to changing consumer trends, Reuters reports.

The announcement comes after former Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was ousted in May, placed the company’s business in India under review, and after his successor, Jim Hackett, was reviewing the company’s strategy in the country.

India has proven a tough nut to crack for automakers such as Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, which said in May it would stop selling cars in India from the end of this year. Meanwhile, Suzukiand Hyundai enjoy nearly two-thirds of the country’s auto market.

Mahindra, based in Mumbai, is a diversified $19 billion conglomerate that operates in more than 100 countries. The company is perhaps best known for its farm equipment and its Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. automaker division, which makes the Willys Jeep-licensed utility vehicle. It also has ventures in IT, financial services and hospitality.

Ford entered India in 1995 by way of a partnership with Mahindra, setting up a factory near Chennai that produced the Escort sedan. The two companies ended their partnership in 2005.

[Source: Autoblog]

HoloLens is helping Ford designers prototype cars faster

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When Google released Glass Enterprise, it took a consumer-oriented product written off as privacy-invading nonsense and made it incredibly useful for businesses. Microsoft is effectively doing the same with its $3,000, not-yet-for-consumers HoloLens by introducing it to designers who find that price a relative bargain. Take Ford, which has been testing HoloLens over the past year to help stylists and engineers visualize and test products, considerably shortening the design phase.

Automakers have been experimenting with this technology for a couple of years now. Volvo’s collaboration with Microsoft on HoloLens goes back to 2015, and Volkswagen, BMW and others have used 3D smart glasses in production quality-assurance roles.

Ford normally builds clay vehicle models at full scale, but has to re-sculpt them if a design doesn’t work out. HoloLens can blend 3D holograms with real cars or models, letting designers test numerous designs in near real time. At the same time, engineers can incorporate the physics and check to see how new features perform. Much of this can be done on a computer, of course, but the advantage of HoloLens is seeing the designs in stereoscopic 3D from all angles on a real vehicle.

In one case, Ford said that it used to take weeks to perfect a grille design, but “HoloLens allows designers and engineers to explore a variety of different iterations in a matter of hours.” In another, stylists played with external mirror models to get a pleasing design nearly in real time. “At the same time, engineers can see through the headsets what drivers see when they look through the mirrors,” said Systems Engineering VP Jim Holland in a Medium post.

Another advantage is collaboration, as multiple HoloLens users can see the same thing and share voice and written notes around the world. “If HoloLens can help us test ideas without worrying about the cost of expensive clay models or prototypes, then we can liberate teams to be as creative as possible,” says Holland.

These novel business applications could still end up benefiting gamers, content creators and others. By commercializing it for enterprises first (and making money) Microsoft and Google can develop and perfect the tech. Once it’s robust enough, it might finally give us the real-world, FPS monster-blasting gameswe’ve dreamed of and not just VFX fake-up jobs.

The Ford Ranger Raptor is real, and this is what it might look like

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We love the fullsize Ford Raptor. It’s one of our favorite pickup trucks, and with good reason. It’s based on the guts of the F-150, which means it’s comfortable, durable, and capable of hauling just about anything an American family would ever need to move. Thing is, it’s overkill. Bigger, badder, faster, stronger… all good things, but sometimes the best things are best experienced in moderation.

Enter the Ranger Raptor. We know it’s coming, we just don’t know exactly when, or what kind of changes it will boast over the current global Ranger that we flew all the way to Australia to take for an extended spin around the Outback. No matter what, though, we expect it to be amazing, and its one-size-smaller footprint will make it an attractive option for anyone who doesn’t need or want a fullsize pickup.

Power will almost surely come from sort sort of EcoBoost engine. A turbocharged four-cylinder is possible, but we think the smart money is on at least the availability of a larger six like the 2.7-liter EcoBoost that’s already available in the larger F-150 series. An automatic transmission driving all four wheels is a sure thing, and though we don’t know for sure, a 10-speed automatic is a solid possibility since we know it’ll bolt up to Ford’s current range of engines and ought to fit in the Ranger chassis.

But the powertrain is only part of the Raptor specification. A beefed-up suspension system with a set of bespoke shocks with something near a foot of travel is also part and parcel of the off-road pickup segment. A big set of meaty tires is also a sure thing. All of that will make for a wider stance than street-biased Ranger trucks, but it’ll still be a much tidier package than the F-150 Raptor.

How exactly will it stack up against the Chevy Colorado ZR2? That remains to be seen. And we can’t wait to find out.

[Source: Autoblog]