Ford tops GM in US vehicle sales in May, driven by fleets

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Ford, bolstered by heavy sales to fleet customers, surpassed General Motors in US new vehicle sales in May, according to figures reported Thursday.

Ford said May sales rose 2.2 percent from a year ago to 241,126 units. GM sales dropped 1.3 percent to 237,364.

GM said it had been trimming sales of heavily discounted vehicles to car rental companies. Such fleet sales made up about 19 percent of its total sales in May.

Ford’s fleet sales rose 8.4 percent, representing more than 34 percent of total sales. The industry average is around 20 percent.

Analysts had expected mixed results for the industry, with sales likely propped up by heavy discounts.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said May sales dipped 0.9 percent to 193,040.

Toyota’s US sales dropped 0.5 percent to 218,248.

Nissan said US sales in May rose 3.0 percent, to 137,471.

After demand fell in March and April, analysts estimated May sales at just over 1.5 million. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales in May was estimated at 16.8 million to 16.9 million vehicles, about the same as April. A year earlier, sales stood at 17.55 million vehicles.

Early reports indicated that sales over the three-day Memorial Day weekend were helped by heavy discounts.

“While demand for new vehicles is still relatively strong, it’s a bit of smoke and mirrors,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, the car shopping website.

Manufacturers and dealers “really pushed the deals over the holiday weekend to prop up their May numbers,” she said. “Incentives were up sharply, and it seems automakers are putting more cash on the hood to nudge car shoppers to buy versus lease.”

General Motors dealers were offering discounts of up to $12,000 on the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup, while some dealer discounts on Ford Motor Co’s F-series pickups were more than $10,000 on 2017 models and more than $14,000 on leftover 2016 models. The 2017 model year started eight months ago.

Ford announces $1.2B investment at three Michigan facilities

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Ford Motor Company on Tuesday announced a $1.2 billion investment in three Detroit-area automotive facilities, including the addition of 130 jobs.

Ford said it will spend $850 million on a planned upgrade of its plant in Wayne, Michigan, for the Ford Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger small pickup.

The company will also invest $150 million at an engine plant in Romeo, Michigan, which is where the 130 jobs will be added.

Ford also announced a $200 million investment in a data center in Flat Rock to support vehicle connectivity and autonomous vehicles. This is in addition to a previous announcement of a $700 million investment into and 700 new jobs for the Flat Rock plant, which will build hybrid Mustangs, a small EV crossover, and Ford’s first fully autonomous vehicle, among other products.

President Trump was quick to take credit on Ford’s announcement even before it was made, tweeting “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” But Ford said the plan is “consistent with what we announced previously,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, told NBC News. He said all three projects were planned well before Trump took office

Trump has previously promoted job announcements that had already been planned or announced. Last week he did something similar regarding an investment by Charter Communications that had been announced before he was elected.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll continue to see good economic growth for the US in the near term,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, told Reuters. “We feel very confident about our plan and our products and about investing in Michigan and the US.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, meanwhile, is planning to approve new state incentives for Ford on Tuesday.

Ford said last week it expected higher investments, as well as other spending, to cut into its 2017 earnings.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford GT gets five drive modes, including V-Max for maximum speed

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Every single year, new cars get more complicated. While some may see this as a negative – and it can be if you’re the type who likes to wrench on your own car in your own garage – there’s a reason for all those lines of code. Today’s automobiles are faster, safer, and more efficient than ever before. For enthusiasts, it’s that faster part that we’re most concerned with, and, with its 216-mile-per-hour top speed, the upcoming Ford GT is the fastest car the Blue Oval has ever made.

Turns out that ludicrous speed (sorry, Elon) necessitates the turn of a steering wheel-mounted knob. There will be five positions on that F1-inspired dial. Normal is for everyday driving duties, and Wet is also pretty self explanatory. Then there’s the ever-present Sport mode “for more spirited ventures,” says Ford. The last two are the most interesting. There’s a Track mode optimized for the twists and turns of a racetrack, and finally V-Max mode for ultimate straight-line speed.

Each of these five modes alters things like throttle calibration, stability and traction control, transmission tuning, suspension stiffness, and ride height. Track mode changes the car’s aero bits, automatically deploying the rear wing and closing the front air intakes. V-Max mode tucks all those aero bits away to reduce drag, but keeps stability control active. No matter what mode the car is in, the air brake activates under “moderate braking” at speeds over 75 mph. Sounds like a pretty good idea, considering the performance this 647-horsepower supercar is capable of.

[Source: Autoblog]

2017 Ford Explorer in Oregon at Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro

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Explore Oregon in the all new Ford Explorer!

Continuing its 25-year run as the best-selling SUV in the United States, the 2017 Ford Explorer, for sale in Portland at Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro, packs even more smart technology and comfort features. An available XLT Sport Appearance Package adds to a lineup that already includes a remarkably refined Platinum edition. For further information please contact us at (844) 424-8102.

Explorer is available with SYNC® 3 and other popular features such as a hands-free, foot-activated liftgate, heated steering wheel, inflatable first- and second-row safety belts and LED fog lamps.

The new XLT Sport Appearance Package features updates inside and out, and provides a rugged new look, including 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels, grille, mirror caps and rear appliqué; Ebony Black body-side cladding and black roof rack; and Explorer hood badge. Interior updates include Dark Earth Gray leather front seats and Miko suede seatback uppers and inserts, with Umber scrim, contrast stitching and door trim inserts. Front seat outer bolsters by premium leather maker Salerno and Explorer logo floor mats are also included.

Drivers can opt for a 2.3-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine that delivers 280 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm. Explorer Sport and Platinum edition models pack a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that generates 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. Base model Explorer, XLT and Limited trim levels come standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. All engines are mated to a six-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission.

Available features that carry over for the 2017 Ford Explorer include:

  • Front and rear cameras: Both have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – a class-exclusive, segment-first feature
  • Enhanced active park assist: System uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel and perpendicular parking. It includes park-out assist to help drivers pull out of parallel parking spots. The system controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals, and shifts the vehicle into gear
  • Intelligent all-wheel drive with Terrain Management System
  • Smart-charging USB ports: Located at the front and rear of the vehicle, the ports can charge smart devices up to two times faster than conventional ports
  • Hands-free liftgate: A customer need only kick his or her leg below the center of the rear bumper to open or close the liftgate
  • 500-watt Sony® audio with Live Acoustics and Clear Phase
  • Active Grille Shutters: Upper and lower fascia openings close at highway speeds to reduce drag; at low speeds, shutters open to deliver airflow to cool the powertrain
  • Air curtains: Standard air curtains create a high-pressure region of air that impacts the outer surface of the wheels and tires – resulting in airflow held close to the vehicle body to minimize drag
  • Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support: Uses radar to detect moving vehicles directly ahead and changes cruising speed if necessary
  • Lane-keeping system: Automatically detects left- and right-hand road lane markings using the front camera system. A vibration in the steering wheel alerts the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of its lane. The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed
  • Blind Spot Information System: BLIS® uses radar to trigger a warning when another motorist is in the driver’s blind spot
  • Cross-traffic alert: Uses radar to help alert drivers to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space
  • Auto high-beams: Using windshield-mounted cameras, the feature automatically switches between high-beam and low-beam settings when oncoming traffic is detected.

10-speed automatic could be coming in 2018 Ford Mustang

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The F-150 has one, and so does the Chevrolet Camaro. Now it appears the Mustang will also get a 10-speed automatic transmission. By way of Mustang6g.com, a dealership employee spotted the 10-speed in a drop-down menu for Ford’s online parts catalog. It suggests the gearbox will be one of the powertrain options in a future Mustang. This information has not been confirmed by Ford, so we can’t offer any more details beyond a “yeah probably” hunch. Speculation also posits that the new transmission will find its way to the Mustang for the 2018 model year.

The 10-speed automatic found in the F-150 and Chevy Camaro is part of a joint venture between GM and Ford. As part of the deal the automakers will share designs for two transmissions: a front-drive 9-speed headed up by GM and a Ford-based design for the rear-drive 10-speed. Ford says the new transmission offers more efficiency due to wider gear spacing and from reduced drag. Chevy, for its part, says the 10-speed in the Camaro ZL1 shifts faster than Porsche’s PDK.

We’ve reached out to Ford for confirmation, but the company typically does not comment on future product speculation. As such, it’s anybody guess which Mustang models could receive the new gearbox.

[Source: Autoblog]

2017 Ford GT ’66 Heritage Edition is a Le Mans throwback

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You didn’t think you’d heard the last from Ford about its stunning victory at Le Mans, did you? We’re not even talking about the 2016 running of the 24-hour endurance race. No, Ford throws it all the way back to 1966 for its new 2017 Ford GT ’66 Heritage Edition. The black-and-silver livery recalls the GT40 Mark II driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon back in 1966. That year, the No. 2 car came in first place, followed by the No. 1 GT40 of Ken Miles and Denis Hulme and the No. 5 GT40 driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson.

Each ’66 Heritage Edition will wear Shadow Black exterior paint – either matte or gloss finish – with silver stripes and Frozen White No. 2 graphics on the hood and doors. The 20-inch forged aluminum wheels are done up in a gold satin finish. Ebony leather covers the carbon fiber seats inside, with gold accents on the instrument panel, seat X-brace, and shift paddles. Blue seatbelts round out the homage to the 1966 racecar.

Ford says the ’66 Heritage Edition will be sold in 2017 only, which makes sense. We wouldn’t bet against similar special-edition offerings in 2018, ’19, and ’20 – 1966 kicked off four straight victories for Ford at Le Mans – but if you like this specific livery, you’d better get in line now.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford EcoSport spotted in US with Escape-inspired face

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Crossovers are all the rage, and entry-level ones are becoming one of the single hottest contests in this silly industry. Ford is not (yet) playing in it. Honda has the HR-V, Mazdahas the CX-3, Hyundai has the Tucson, and Jeep has the Renegade. Ford has the EcoSport, a Fiesta-based vehicle it doesn’t sell in the US.

But for the second time since December, we’re seeing the compact ‘ute camouflaged and patrolling the roads of Ford’s home turf. This car strips away some of the camo from the last EcoSport we saw, removing coverings from the headlight and showing off its familial two-bar grille. In fact, the front-end looks a lot like the new Escape.

And that’s the important thing about this car. The last one we saw mounted its grille far lower on the fascia, like the EcoSports sold in South America – the gaping maw, if you will. The car we’re seeing here moves its grille higher up on the face, tying it in with the headlights and making for a new front bumper.

It’s this big change, along with our exclusive report on Ford’s coming crossover onslaught from the Chicago Auto Show, that are the biggest indicators that the EcoSport could come to the US market. But will that happen? That’s the $64,000 question. We can see two potential approaches for Dearborn:

First, we’re looking at the US-spec EcoSport, coming soon to a dealer near you. This option works because Ford gets in the game before the subcompact crossover market becomes overloaded with entries. The downside is that it’d be doing so with a vehicle that’s in the middle of its life cycle, and that could alienate buyers looking for the latest and greatest.

The other option is that Ford holds off on a US-market EcoSport – the car you see would be a facelift for foreign markets – until it updates the Fiesta, and then builds a new, third-generation vehicle specifically designed to compete in the United States. This would mean delaying the Blue Oval’s entry into the subcompact CUV segment until later this decade, but it would also guarantee when the new car does arrive, it’d be facing down competitors that are as old or older than the current EcoSport is now.

So, which way does Ford go? We don’t know, but we’re guessing there are many minds in Dearborn occupied with just such a question. Feel free to let them know what you think in the Comments.

[Source: Autoblog]