Ford announced yesterday that its North American president Raj Nair would no longer be working for the company due to “inappropriate behavior.” As a result, the company needed fill that gaping vacancy. The new North American president and Ford Group vice president will be Kumar Galhotra, and his term in the new role will start on March 1.
Galhotra will remain the group vice president and chief marketing officer for Lincoln through March, meaning he’s the head of the luxury brand. He’s had this position since 2014. Before that, he was vice president of engineering for all of Ford. With Galhotra’s promotion, a number of internal promotions follow. Joy Falotico, current chairman, CEO and group vice president of Ford’s credit division will fill Galhotra’s position, and Dave McClelland, vice president of marketing for Ford Asia Pacific, will fill her role.
Other shuffling at Ford includes Stewart Rawley’s promotion to vice president for Ford North America and chief operating officer. He is the current vice president for strategy at Ford. Ford China’s chairman and CEO John Lawler will take Rawley’s old role, and Cathy O’Callaghan will take over Lawler’s job at Ford China, but not until June 1. O’Callaghan is currently vice president, corporate controller and chief financial officer for global markets at Ford.
In addition to the many ways a real Ford Mustang can be modified, Ford is now giving fans the opportunity to customize the car’s badge. It has launched a Facebook app called “Personalize Your Pony” and can be visited at this link. It allows you to select from some preset patterns inspired by Shelby, Bullitt, Roush and RTR Vehicles, and then shift and manipulate them within a Mustang logo with a very simple tool. One of the other color settings that lets you play with different pairings of Mustang colors to create a custom design.
Now, the tool is more interesting than a brief five-minute time waster. Whatever design you end up liking the best, you can submit with your name and city. Afterward, you can buy shirts, mugs, phone cases and stickers with the logo. But the coolest product is the actual Mustang badges that feature your design that you can buy for your 2015 and later pony car. But you’ll need to act quickly, because Ford will only make 1,000 of them.
There’s one other nifty aspect to this program. When you submit your design with your name an city, you’re also entered to have that design featured on a billboard. Exactly where wasn’t given except to say that the locations are “major cities across the U.S.”
The Ford Ranger will soon return to America, but for now we have to sit and wait while the rest of the world runs around in Ford’s smallest pickup truck (except for Autoblog, because we couldn’t wait forever). The wait is made more difficult knowing something like the Ranger Raptor is coming. While we’ve seen teasers and spy photos, Motoring in Australia reports that Ford has confirmed the new performance truck will make its global debut on Feb. 7 in Bangkok, Thailand.
While some people may have been hoping that the Ranger Raptor will get some flavor of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engine, it seems the truck will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel. That’s smaller than the Ranger’s 3.2-liter inline-five diesel, but it should deliver more power. Still, when the truck finally comes to America, it’s likely to have a gasoline powertrain. The Chevy Colorado ZR2 is offered with both gasoline and diesel engines. Ford may take the same route. Look for the 10-speed automatic, though we can cross our fingers that a manual will be on offer.
We don’t know many other details on the truck. Look for beefed up suspension, wider fenders thanks to a wider track and more aggressive front and rear fascias. Really, this is going to be a smaller version of the F-150 Raptor, and that’s totally OK by us.
When word leaked out, during the late 1980s, that Ford had conspired with Mazda to develop a— gasp!— front-wheel-drive Mustang, enraged mobs descended on Dearborn and left it a smoldering crater in a ravaged Michigan landscape. Well, perhaps the reaction wasn’t quite so extreme, but the lesson was the same one Porsche has learned about engine placement in the 911: some traditions cannot be futzed with. The new front-drive coupe ended up being called the Probe. Here’s one I shot in a California wrecking yard earlier this month.
These cars were pretty quick for the time, and they handled better than the increasingly heavy Fox Mustangs they were supposed to replace. Having seen many Mustangs and Probes of this era competing on road courses, I’d say that the Probe (and its mechanically-nearly-identical Mazda sibling, the MX-6) is much quicker in any competition involving braking and turning.
This one made it past the magical 200,000 mile mark, though just barely. Most junkyard Mazdas I see don’t have odometer totals quite as high as same-year Hondas and Toyotas, so this is respectable.
The 1994 Probe could be purchased with a 2.0-liter, 118-horsepower four-cylinder or a 2.5-liter V6 making 164 horsepower. This car has the four, attached to a 5-speed, which made the car speedy enough to be fun.
The GT version got four-wheel discs, in addition to the V6 engine, while the regular Probe was more of a sporty commuter car.
Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said on Thursday the automaker is reviewing its product portfolio as consumers show a preference for sport utility vehicles that have fuel efficiencies closer to sedans.
Hackett, at a Ford event in Detroit, said that in the past SUVs were not fuel efficient, but “we’re starting to crack that code.”
The automaker is conducting an annual review of its product portfolio against that backdrop, he said, but did not address specifics.
Ford has signaled a plan to stop producing mid-size Fusion sedans for North America at a plant in Mexico and shift Fusion production to China, people familiar with Ford’s communications with suppliers told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ford had previously announced plans to shift production of its Focus cars to China from Mexico.
Separately, Ford also said on Thursday it would relocate its autonomous and electric vehicle units to Detroit from Dearborn, Michigan.
“The relocation brings together Ford teams that are creating new business models in a resurgent, diverse neighborhood with industrial roots,” Ford said.
The company said the new facility located in the Corktown neighborhood would be up and running early next year.
The team in Corktown will be led by Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification. The company will begin testing its latest self-driving vehicle technology next year.
Reporting by Joe White and Uday Sampath
47 years have passed since the first of Ford’s original Dearborn-designed subcompact hit the streets, and first-year examples have been nearly extinct for a couple of decades. That makes this 1971 coupe in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard a very unusual junkyard resident.
The cracked and faded paint, colonized by moss and lichens, indicates that this car got parked many years ago and never ran again. The depth of the patina suggests that Ronald Reagan was in the White House the last time this Pinto moved under its own power.
It once had a vinyl top, making it a bit more snazzy than your entry-level Pinto in 1971.
No air conditioning, no automatic transmission, green plastic interior.
Power for this car came from a 2.0-liter single-overhead-cam straight four designed by Ford Europe and generating an even hundred horsepower. The serious Pinto-buying cheapskates got a 1.6-liter Ford Cortina pushrod engine, making a mere 75 horses.
Close to three-and-a-half million Ford Pintos and Pinto-twin Mercury Bobcats were sold during their sales from the 1971 through 1980 model years. Having come of driving age in 1982, I have driven, ridden in, and worked on many Pintos, and I’d rate the 1971 Pinto as better than the 1971 Chevrolet Vega but not as good as the 1971 Dodge Colt.
Of course, you can’t bring up the Pinto these days without hearing about the way Pintos would explode when rear-ended; this is the one thing about these cars that remains in popular memory. This is the result of a famous Mother Jones article from the fall of 1977. Pinto sales had begun a steep decline after 1974, anyway.
The good news is that Pintos didn’t burst into flames much more often than other rear-wheel-drive 1970s Detroit cars with fuel tanks located between the differential and rear bumper. The bad news is that most of those cars were just as vulnerable to such incidents.
SHANGHAI — Alibaba Group Holding has signed a deal with Ford to explore cooperation in areas such as cloud computing, connectivity and retail, which could involve selling Ford cars on Alibaba’s online retail platform Tmall.
Alibaba in a statement on Thursday said digital marketing-focused Alimama and operating system firm AliOS would be among subsidiaries working with Ford under the three-year agreement.
One avenue under consideration is the sale of Ford cars on Tmall, an Alibaba spokeswoman said. Reuters on Wednesday reported that Ford was planning to sign such a deal as it overhauls its China strategy to stimulate growth.
“The agreement aims to explore new ways to redefine how consumers purchase and own vehicles, as well as how to leverage digital channels to identify new retail opportunities,” Alibaba said in its statement.
The Chinese e-commerce firm and U.S. automaker will initially “explore a pilot study” for new retail opportunities, Alibaba said.
Ford President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett in the statement said collaborating with technology firms builds on its vision to make “smart vehicles.”
Ford’s China sales have been sluggish in recent months as it struggles to keep pace with rapidly changing trends, including increased demand for entry-level cars in smaller cities.
Meanwhile Alibaba is increasing its presence in the automotive sector with Banma Technologies, a partnership with SAIC Motor Corp developing Internet-connected cars.
Reporting by Brenda Goh and Norihiko Shirouzu