On the 100th anniversary of Ford trucks, a brief look at their evolution

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Today, July 27, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of Ford’s entry into the pickup truck market, and to mark the occasion, we’re taking a quick look at the evolution of those trucks. It all started with the Model TT, which took a Model T cab, and stuck it on a heavy duty frame rated to carry one ton. It was sold in a chassis-cab configuration so that buyers could put on whatever type of bed or box was necessary. It was followed up by the Model AA, which increased the load capacity to 1.5 tons, and then the Model BB in 1933. In 1935, the Model 50 was introduced and was the first Ford truck with a V8.

The first of the F-Series trucks arrived for 1948. And while the F designation has remained, the first models had a more basic numbering system. The trucks started with the F-1, a contemporary F-150 equivalent, and went up to the ultra-heavy duty commercial trucks like the F-7. Tack a “50” onto the end of most of those names and you’ll have modern day F-Series trucks. The naming scheme was tweaked in 1953 with the introduction of the F-100, and the Falcon-based Ranchero joined the line-up in 1957. Ford notes that it was at this time that trucks started getting basic amenities such as automatic transmissions, arm rests, and sun visors.

The first F-150 was introduced in 1975. Just two years later, the Ford F-Series became the best selling truck in America, and it took best selling passenger vehicle in 1982. No other trucks have yet surpassed the best selling truck title. 1982 also marked the introduction of the Ford Ranger compact truck, which replaced the Mazda-based Ford Courier. In the ’70s and ’80s, Ford also began offering more luxurious accommodations such as leather, air conditioning, and power windows and locks.

Most of the rest of the story you know. Ford kept selling absurd numbers of trucks. Special high-performance models were launched for both on the road and off it in the form of the F-150 Lightning and F-150 Raptor. And in 2019, Ford is slated to bring the Ranger back to the US. We even tried out the foreign-market truck on sale now, and we were impressed, so the new one should be good, too. It might even have a Raptor-style off-road version. We look forward to trying them and other Ford trucks for many years to come.

[Source: Autoblog]

That F-22 inspired, 454 horsepower Ford F-150 Raptor sold for $300k

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The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is one of the fastest and most capable trucks ever built. Similar sentiments can be applied to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. A few weeks ago, Ford teased a special edition version of the Raptor that combined elements of both models, though details beyond the visual changes were scarce. Ford Performance had its hands under the hood, adding a huge amount of power to the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6. At last week’s Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh, the truck fetched $300,000 in a charity auction, all benefiting the Young Eagles program.

The standard Raptor makes an already impressive 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. This Ford F-22 F-150 Raptor makes 545 horsepower and 660 lb-ft of torque. That’s 110 lb-ft more than the 2017 Ford GT supercar. Power is still sent through a 10-speed automatic. The extra power comes courtesy of a bump in boost, a Whipple intercooler, and a full Borla exhaust kit. Ford hasn’t listed performance numbers, but considering the standard model hits 60 mph in just over 5 seconds, a 0-60 mph in the mid 4s isn’t out of the question.

The engine isn’t the only that’s been upgraded. The F-22 F-150 Raptor gets a Deaver rear spring pack and Fox bypass series shocks with adjustable compression and rebound valving. Innov8 Racing custom forged beadlock wheels with Falken Wildpeak tires hide six-piston calipers and upgraded rotors. There’s a 1.3-million candela LED KC Hilites lighting system straight across the roof. A DeBerti two-tire, gas and ProEagle jack holder are there in case of a puncture.

The truck also gets wider carbon-fiber fender flares as well as carbon fiber hood and fender vents. The Sherwin-Williams silver and black paint has a number of F-22 Raptor cues, including silhouettes on the doors and a large “F-22” logo across the doors. The hood replaces the block “Ford” logo with another silhouette of the F-22.

The Ford F-22 F-150 Raptor was purchased by Gary Ackerman of Gaudin Ford in Las Vegas, Nevada for $300,000. Ackerman serves as Honorary Commander/Ambassador for the United States Air Force’s F-22 Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Now we just hope Ford considers adding a little more power to the standard model.

[Source: Autoblog]

Brand-new 2017 Honda Civic Type R wrecked on drive home from dealer

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For this week’s entry in New Car Dreams, Shattered, we point you to the tale of Greg Ellingson, a man who flew from Philadelphia to Boston to pick up his sporty new 2017 Honda Civic Type R only to finish the trip home in a tow truck with a wrecked car.

No one was injured in the crash, which took place Sunday on Interstate 95 in Connecticut.

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“Jackass not paying attention hit me full on and pushed me into another car,” he wrote in a Facebook update that, unlike his badly damaged hatchback, has caught fire. The post, which also included photos of his badly damaged grey Type R, had been shared more than 4,000 times and had attracted more than 1,800 comments as of this story’s publication.

Reached by phone Monday, Ellingson, said he was stopped in traffic on I-95 when he paused to change the radio station, was rear-ended by an older man and pushed into another vehicle. He said he didn’t see the car coming.

“He wasn’t on the breaks when he hit me, he was on the gas,” Ellingson said.

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“There was some considerable distance between me and the car in front of me,” he said, adding that he had enough time to take his hand off the radio dial and place it on the shifter before he was driven into another car in front of him.

The man who struck him did not appear to be using a cellphone at the time of the crash, he said.

Ellingson had posted an earlier update about his new purchase on Facebook, checking in at Boston Logan Airport on Sunday and announcing he was “Picking up mah new cah.” His plan was to drive it home after paying $39,000 out the door.

Ellingson works as a sales consultant for Scott Honda in West Chester, Pa. He said his dealership had sold out its inventory of Civic Type Rs, which have an MSRP of $33,900, and he spent two months trying to find a dealership that would sell him one at a reasonable price.

“There’s a lot of effort that went in to just getting the car,” Ellingson said.

The Type R bears a 2.0-liter, DOHC, direct-injected, turbocharged, i-VTEC inline-four that delivers 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Ellingson’s version had a mere 151 miles on it — the odometer was at 12 when he left the dealership — when the crash occurred.

In an update on Facebook, Ellingson was highly complimentary of both the Connecticut State Police trooper who assisted on the scene and Honda Link Assist, which asked him to pull off the road and contacted him to see if he needed assistance.

“Looking back, most importantly I’m grateful my Honda protected me,” he wrote. “I came out without even a scratch. I’ve been selling new Hondas for almost a year now and I read about their safety, I’ve seen the crash test videos but experiencing it first hand is a whole different thing. The engineers who designed this car did a fantastic job. It took all the brunt and all 4 doors still open!

Ellingson also said he purchased special insurance for the collectors car and expects to be covered in full if the vehicle is declared totaled.

Maybe Ellingson can bond with the man whose Ferrari 430 Scuderia went up in flames last week in England after crashing it just an hour after acquiring it. The driver of that considerably more expensive car reportedly suffered only cuts and bruises.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford CEO Jim Hackett reviewing the future of technology, Lincoln, overseas markets

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Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett is reviewing the automaker’s operations in India and other markets, as well as Ford’s future product programs including plans to build a self-driving commercial vehicle in 2021.

Hackett, who took over as CEO in May, has told investors he is working on a 100-day review of Ford’s operations but has so far provided few details of the process, except to indicate that it is looking at the automakers’ luxury vehicle strategy, the future of its small vehicles and investments in emerging markets.

Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told Reuters in an interview that the review covers a range of issues, including Ford’s strategy for India.

“We have a lot of work to do (as) we address issues of how to fix India,” Shanks said. “Everything is on the table.”

General Motors in May said it would stop selling cars in India but continue to produce vehicles there for export. Shanks said no decisions have been made and noted that Ford has a larger business in India than GM did. “We are very cognizant that will be the third-largest market in the world,” he said.

“Some big decisions will be made,” Shanks said, but he cautioned Ford may not disclose all those decisions at the end of the 100-day review.

Hackett is addressing challenges that have contributed to a nearly 8 percent decline in Ford’s share price this year.

The review of the Lincoln luxury brand includes whether current plans will meet former CEO Mark Fields’ ambitious targets for growth and revenue, people familiar with the process said.

Ford has set a target of putting a self-driving shuttle into commercial ride-sharing fleets by 2021. Hackett is reviewing the investment and timing for that project, the sources said.

Hackett also assessing whether to reduce and consolidate production of models such as the Fiesta subcompact and two midsized sedans that are built in multiple locations around the world, but are experiencing slowing demand.

One proposal would shift production of the next-generation Mondeo midsized sedan from Europe to Mexico, where it would share an assembly line with its sibling, the Ford Fusion, avoiding the cost of retooling two plants.

Shortly after he took charge, Hackett approved a proposal to shift production of the next-generation Focus for North America from Mexico to China, saving the company an estimated $500 million by consolidating two factories into one.

Hackett also is said to be questioning a plan to build at least half a dozen future models, including replacements for the Ford Mustang and Explorer and Lincoln Continental, on a new flexible platform that is designed to accommodate both front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

Reporting by Paul Lienert and Joseph White in Detroit

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford to pay for repairs to every Police Interceptor Explorer SUV

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Ford will pay to repair police versions of its Ford Explorer SUVs to correct possible carbon monoxide leaks that may be linked to crashes and injuries after U.S. regulators escalated an investigation into 1.33 million vehicles. Ford said it will cover the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Explorer SUVs that may be tied to aftermarket installation of police equipment. The company said the modifications may have left holes in the underbody of the vehicles.

“If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin,” Ford said in a statement. Ford acted amid concerns by some police departments about the safety of officers. The city of Austin, Texas said Friday it was removing all 400 of the city’s Ford Explorer SUVs from use.

Several Texas media outlets cited a city memo that said 20 police officers have been found with elevated levels of carbon monoxide and three have not returned to work. Ford said it has not found any elevated levels of carbon monoxide in regular Ford Explorers, but NHTSA is investigating reports of exhaust odors in those vehicles. Ford did not say how much it expected to pay to repair police vehicles and said its investigation is ongoing.

On Thursday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was upgrading and expanding a probe into 1.33 million Ford Explorer SUVs over reports of exhaust odors in vehicle compartments. Police have reported two crashes that may be linked to carbon monoxide exposure and a third incident involving injuries related to carbon monoxide exposure. The auto safety agency said it was also aware of more than 2,700 complaints that may be linked to exhaust orders and possible exposure to carbon monoxide and 41 injuries among police and civilian vehicles in the probe covering 2011-2017 model year Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.

Ford has issued four technical service bulletins related to the exhaust odor issue to address complaints from police fleets and other owners, NHTSA and Ford said. NHTSA said it is evaluating preliminary testing that suggests carbon monoxide levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios. NHTSA said it recently learned that the police version of the Ford Explorer was experiencing exhaust manifold cracks.

The agency said the reported injuries include “loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches, or light-headedness.” (Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

[Source: Autoblog]

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Quick Spin | Dad tested, kid approved

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The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a compelling minivan, which feels less weird to say the more we say it (and the more we drive it). Adding a plug-in powertrain to an already solid family hauler makes it more interesting, and leaves the world just a little less greenhouse-gassy for those children you’ll be carrying around in it. So, when we had the chance to actually take one home with us, we strapped in the car seat and put it through some real-world usage.

For reference, the non-hybrid Pacifica comes with the standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It provides 287 horsepower and offers 19 miles per gallon city, 28 highway, and 22 combined. The Pacifica Hybrid adds two electric motors and a variable transmission to its more efficient, less powerful Atkinson cycle V6, providing a total of 260 horsepower. The Hybrid also has a 16-kWh battery pack to power its electric driving. It’s rated at a combined 84 miles-per-gallon equivalent.

Our test kid, Wolfgang, loved the Pacifica Hybrid. He repeatedly asked for rides, which is not unusual, but seemed to prefer the Chrysler to his other options. He even got upset the one time we put him in Mama’s Mercedes GLK while the Pacifica was in the driveway. Wolfgang especially loved the buttons to open and close the automatic doors. After heading indoors, he’d occasionally point out the window toward the minivan saying, “Button.” He also thought the horn was hilarious. He’s heard his fair share of car horns so far in his young life, but none have ever gotten the same belly laughs that the horn in the Pacifica evoked. We have no idea why. It sounds like a normal car horn to us.

Getting the car seat in and out of the Pacifica Hybrid was super easy. The captain’s chairs make it even easier. The LATCH anchors were prominent, and easy to find by feel when reaching over the seat. It also helps that you can access the inside anchor by hopping to the other side of the vehicle, and the openness of the second row provides more room to work with. Once in the car, the huge door openings made it easy to get the little guy in and out of the rear-facing seat. While driving, the quietness of the cabin helps facilitate the sort of rudimentary conversation a toddler can hold.

Though we thought the ride to be nicely smooth – a feeling aided by the quiet operation of the electrified powertrain and the low center of gravity thanks to the battery pack ­– your author’s wife still got carsick during a drive across town. While a recent drive on curvy roads in the new, effortlessly calm Honda Odyssey didn’t make her queasy, a trip across town in the Chrysler was enough to upset her stomach for the rest of the afternoon. Interestingly enough, she says the stop/start system was bothersome, amplifying her sense of coming to a stop and taking off down the road again. Your author, on the other hand, barely noticed the changeover from electric to gas propulsion.

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With the copious amount of room in the back of the Pacifica Hybrid, we didn’t think that there’d be a need to make full use of the available cargo space. Sure enough, though, during our loan, we were asked to drop off a bookshelf to a relative. Because the hybrid version lacks Stow ‘n Go in the second row on account of the battery pack under the floor, we had to wrestle one of the seats out of the vehicle (and we had trouble getting the seat to unlatch from its mooring). Still, as little as we move large items our life, we’d prefer the PHEV powertrain to Stow ‘n Go, given the option. It tends to be the case that the more cargo capacity one has, the more likely one is to need it (or to be called upon to use it), and we think that’s exactly what happened this weekend. While the second-row seats only slide a few inches, the third row folds flat with ease, and that’s all the extra space you’ll usually need.

Regardless of test wife and test kid’s thoughts on the Pacifica Hybrid, we would pick it over the rest of the herd, largely because of the PHEV powertrain. We enjoy the quietness, and the less frequent trips to the gas station. Most of our driving was within the 35 or so miles of (almost purely) electric range we could get out of the car, and the gas engine only came on when we were accelerating onto the highway, or in the few miles here and there when our journeys had depleted the battery. During our time with the car, we used the mobile charger at home, which worked just fine for our weekend driving schedule. It took about 13 hours to charge on a regular 120-volt plug. We’d definitely install a higher-voltage charger at home to get that down to a couple hours, and, once we had that, we’d likely entertain the idea of adding another (smaller) plug-in car to our garage.

One final thought relates to the Pacifica Hybrid’s instrumentation. It’s true that the electric driving is downplayed in this plug-in, and we understand why: keeping it simple makes it more accessible to first-time EV owners who don’t want to worry about driving modes or energy management. Still, there is a display in the touchscreen infotainment system that allows the driver to observe the power flow between the engine, battery, and electric motor. There’s also a permanent Power/Charge gauge on the instrument panel, as well as a display option on the digital display between the gauges. It seems like a lot of different places to monitor the same thing, without really offering much in the way of actual interaction. We hope, once more people become more comfortable with electrified driving, that Chrysler will offer more opportunities to manage energy, either through drive modes or dialing up regenerative braking.

The Pacifica Hybrid is a great minivan, and doesn’t really feel like something super different from the rest of the competition, despite its plug-in powertrain. It’s easy to drive, despite its size. It’s smooth and quiet, but so is the new Honda Odyssey. The Pacifica Hybrid’s price point starts high at $43,090, but gets the content of a higher trim level (8.4-inch touchscreen, power sliding doors, heated leather seats). It’s also eligible for the $7,500 federal tax incentive, plus other incentives in certain states, which makes it pretty competitive with a Honda or Toyota. Were we to spend over $40k on a minivan, this would be our pick. We like the refinement of the Odyssey, and the disappearing seats of the standard Pacifica, but the plug-in powertrain is just too good to pass up.

[Source: Autoblog]

Speed kills – and now we know it kills as much as drunk driving

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its findings on a study regarding the effects of speeding on car crashes, and what can be done to mitigate those effects. It found that from 2005 to 2014, speeding was a factor in 112,580 traffic fatalities. Drunk driving, the organization found, was a factor in just 368 more fatalities at a total of 112,948. The speeding-related fatalities also represents 31 percent of all traffic deaths over that period.

The NTSB also concluded that speeding greatly increases the chance of severe injuries or death, which makes sense, because higher speeds means greater forces that can harm people when the car comes to a stop, or hits a pedestrian. In addition, the agency said speeding increases the chance of a crash, but it admits that accident causes are a complex topic, and reporting is inconsistent.

It is then understandable that the NTSB would like to reduce fatalities due to speeding, and it has a number of ideas of what might and might not help. The first thing it highlights is that raising speed limits to match the 85th percentile of what speeds people actually drive, a typical practice by traffic engineers, wouldn’t be very helpful. It notes there is little to support its effectiveness, and in general it would increase speeds and therefore crashes, which would obviously be counterproductive.

But areas where the NTSB sees potential for improvement are in greater enforcement and additional safety equipment. It encourages more speed enforcement, and making sure it’s done visibly (i.e. people see people pulled over). It also recommends automated enforcement via speed cameras, and it cites the success of speed cameras in other countries. Using such cameras may require changing laws in some states to allow this type of enforcement. For safety equipment, the NTSB wants to see more car dashboards display speed limits based on navigation systems, and it suggests that including the feature into consumer safety ratings would help the feature proliferate as those ratings influence car purchases. What are your thoughts?

[Source: Autoblog]