Ford rolls out 7 wild off-road and performance F-Series trucks for SEMA

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Ford is bringing an F-Series truck for everyone to the SEMA show this year. Whether you fancy off-road madness or fast street trucks, there appears to be one of everything. Here’s the rundown:

Gen-2 Full-Race Motorsports ‘Freak-O-Boost’ F-150

This truck (pictured above in the gallery) is for the off-road enthusiasts. A three-inch lift kit and Icon Vehicle Dynamics suspension along with some Raptor bits give it extra capability off the pavement. Bead-lock wheels and all-terrain tires are there to help as well. There’s apparently plenty of power to be had, as Full-Race Motorsports applied a twin-turbo upgrade, cat-back exhaust, HeadGames Motorworks cylinder heads and a high-flow fuel pump. This particular F-150started out life with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, but all these changes transform it into quite the off-road beast.
Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Transfer Flow F-150

If you were looking for the ultimate adventure truck, Transfer Flow seems to have it covered. Starting with the 3.0-liter diesel V6, this truck gets an off-road air suspension by Hellwig Products. Big off-road tires give it the rugged appearance to go with the extra capability. There’s a 50-gallon fuel tank on board, along with a 40-gallon in-bed auxiliary toolbox combo with a refueling kit too. Yeah, you’ll probably have enough fuel for some adventuring here.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Kurt Busch and ZB Customs F-150

But maybe you wanted 1,000 horsepower, as any reasonable person might desire. Enter the 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 F-150with exactly that much power. This truck has JE forged pistons, Ford Performance forged rotating assembly, oil pan and pump and side-exit exhaust. The suspension is dropped two-inches and it rides on JRi Shocks’ hydraulic ride height system. PAC Racing coilovers and sway bars should help keep the 1,000 horsepower in line a little bit better too. Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar tires are brought to a halt by eight-piston Brembos up front and four-piston calipers in the rear.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Speedkore F-150

This one doesn’t have 1,000 horsepower, but it does have the 5.0-liter V8 with the Ford Performance supercharger tacked on. Lowered by three inches, it has some MaxTrac suspension components and the same eight-piston Brembos from the previous truck. Tons of exterior enhancements make the sport truck look the part, and a side-exit exhaust should grab people’s attention who didn’t see the stealthy truck at first.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Wilderness Collective F-250 Super Duty

Here’s another lifted adventure truck, this one designed and put together by a tour company, Wilderness Collective. It gets a two-inch air lift kit along with off-road wheels and tires. This truck is one of the few that doesn’t get a big power bump, but the focus here is on being able to take it anywhere. It has a full radio communications kit and lights everywhere to illuminate your way ahead. Plenty of camping and wilderness friendly add-ons are found tied to or mounted all over the truck too.

Extang F-350 Super Duty

Extang F-350 Super Duty

This truck is designed to be the ultimate tailgating accessory. It has a slide out game table, BBQ grill and cooler plus a 65-inch 4K TV to watch all the games on. Mechanically, it features a specially designed air suspension along with 24-inch wheels. It literally comes with everything you might need when hanging out before a big game.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Deberti Design F-250 Super Duty Work Truck

Most of the trucks here weren’t made for the average work truck needs, but this one strives to be the best work truck it can be. There’s a twin-turbo kit from Midwest Diesel & Auto that pumps the power all the way up to 900 horsepower. Adjustable Fox shocks and Hellwig airbags make up the important suspension modifications, while bead-lock wheels and off-road tires give it some extra ability when the worksite is extra gnarly.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford names Lincoln chief as North American president following Nair’s departure

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.

[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 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]

Ford hires 400 engineers to double size of its connectivity team

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Ford said on Thursday it was hiring 400 engineers, mostly in Canada, to work on connectivity software and hardware, part of a wider push to meet demand for more connected cars.

The 300 engineers in Canada and 100 in the United States will double the current size of the Detroit automaker’s mobile connectivity engineering team. Ford also plans to establish a new research and engineering center in Ottawa. That’s because the majority of the hires will come from BlackBerry’s shuttered phone handset business, TechCrunch reports, where they gained extensive experience working with QNX, the operating system that powers Ford’s SYNC 3 and is used by a large number of the world’s leading automakers in similar capacities.

Ford on Thursday was also announcing production of a new engine in Windsor, Ontario, two sources told Automotive News, an investment that would boost Canada’s auto industry after years of job losses to Mexico and the U.S. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was expected to be on hand at the Ford Essex Engine Plant in Windsor for announcement of the 7X large engine for pickups.

Connectivity is a key investment area for the auto industry as in-car technology catches up to that of smartphones. As more modems are built directly into cars, vehicles are able to access a richer array of digital services. Ford plans to equip 20 million cars with built-in modems in the next five years.

“In order to have autonomy, the vehicle’s got to be connected, it’s just fundamental,” Ford’s Chuck Gray told TechCrunch. He is Ford’s global director for Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering.”The vehicle itself, whether there’s a driver or not, has to be communicating with the cloud for various reasons, so this group immediately is working on creating that connectivity spine or network upon which everything else can be built.”

Of the hires from BlackBerry, Gray said, “Obviously they have deep skills, in embedded software, in mobile devices, in connectivity, and when you look at the subsets of products they work in – they work in RF, they work hardware, they work at the chip level, they work in operating systems, they have a renowned reputation for security and stability […] so it was a really good fit.”

The new hires will work on infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, handset integration, security, driver assist features and autonomous vehicles, Ford said.

The move underscores how many new jobs in the auto sector are for white-collar technology jobs related to connectivity, mobility or autonomous vehicles, versus traditional factory jobs.

Ford said on Tuesday it was investing $200 million for an advanced data center in Michigan to support advances in vehicle connectivity and future developments in autonomous vehicles.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage in San Francisco

[Source: Autoblog]

Apple and Tesla ask California to change proposed self-driving car test policy

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Apple Inc urged California to toughen up its proposed policy on testing self-driving cars, a move that would result in more public data that could help Apple catch up to rivals in the self-driving space by giving it a better window into their strengths and weaknesses.

In a letter made public on Friday, Apple suggested a series of changes to the draft policy that is under development and said it looks forward to working with California and others “so that rapid technology development may be realized while ensuring the safety of the traveling public.”

Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies Inc, Toyota Motor Corp, Tesla Motors Inc and others also filed comments suggesting changes.

California said on Tuesday it would review comments before deciding whether to make changes to the policy that aims to allow companies to test vehicles without traditional steering wheels and controls or human back-up drivers.

The state is at the forefront of a crowded race to develop self-driving vehicles and the proposed changes from automakers and technology companies help provide insight into current efforts.

In its letter, Apple said California should revise how companies report self-driving system “disengagements.” California currently requires companies to report how many times the self-driving system was deactivated and control handed back to humans because of a system failure or a situation tied to traffic, weather or road conditions that required human intervention for safety reasons.

But Apple wants those rules to extend to humans stepping in to prevent even minor traffic violations. Apple contends the reporting rules as written leave too much wiggle room for car makers and “caused public confusion and misunderstanding,” wrote Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity.

Apple also asked regulators to revisit language around the definition of an autonomous vehicle to clarify that permits are required in advanced systems even when a safety driver is present.

The exact wording around when permits are needed became a sticking point between Uber and state officials last year when the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Uber to cease its self-driving tests in San Francisco.

Apple also said the state’s rules for development vehicles used only in testing could “restrict both the design and equipment that can be used in test vehicles.”

A late entrant to the self-driving race, Apple secured a permit earlier this month to test autonomous vehicles in California. Although it has never openly acknowledged it is looking into building a car, Apple has recruited dozens of auto experts. The company declined to comment on Friday.

‘STIFLE INNOVATION’

Tesla said California should not bar testing of autonomous vehicles that are 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg) or more, a move that Apple also joined. Tesla said such a move could “stifle innovation,” and bar a company from testing a heavy autonomous vehicle that might be used to haul parts on private property rather than on public roads, pushing developers in this sector out of the state.

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, in 2016 announced plans for new electric vehicles, including a commercial truck called the Tesla Semi and a public transport bus. The electric vehicle pioneer said earlier this month it plans to unveil a commercial truck in September.

Tesla also said California should not prohibit the sale of non-self-driving vehicles previously used for autonomous vehicle testing. Tesla said that under the proposal, if it loads a vehicle with autonomous testing software and then replaces it with conventional production software it could be barred from selling the vehicle.

Uber said California should allow paying members of the public to ride in autonomous vehicles with drivers, saying: “There is no reason to deny those riders an opportunity to travel in an autonomous test vehicle and provide honest feedback.”

Lyft Inc, a ride-hailing service rival of Uber, asked the state to remove a requirement that it notify local authorities of autonomous vehicle testing.

Waymo asked California to remove its liability proposal. On Tuesday, General Motors Co had said the state’s proposed liability rules could make automakers liable regardless of fault for any crash. GM also said that automakers should be allowed to reuse autonomous vehicles and parts after testing or if the vehicle is scrapped.

Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG submitted joint comments seeking changes to the extent of data required to be retained in crashes involving self-driving cars.

A number of automakers have said they plan to begin deploying self-driving vehicles, some in commercial fleets, by 2020-21.

[Source: Autoblog]

Junkyard Gem: 1986 Ford Escort L Station Wagon

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The first-generation North American Ford Escort shared some components with its European cousin but was, at heart, a Dearborn creation. These cars were once everywhere on American roads, but cheap Detroit compacts tend to depreciate fast and get subjected to abuse and neglect. Few of these cars remain, but here’s a well-preserved ’86 wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

The subsequent generation of Escort was a Mazda, sibling to the Protegé and 323, but this car was all Ford. The engine in this car is the 1.9-liter SOHC hemi-head straight-four, which made 86 horsepower in 1986.

Manual transmissions were cheaper than automatics during the middle 1980s, but the optional equipment in this car (e.g., air conditioning, AM radio) indicates that its original purchaser probably preferred driving a three-pedal car and wasn’t just a cheapskate.

Bought new in Boulder, will be crushed 30 miles away and 31 years later in Denver.

The idea of a small station wagon with two-digit horsepower and a manual transmission seems absurd in 2017, but this car had plenty of competition when new.

[Source: Autoblog]