Ford wants to make silent electric police cars

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An electric car moving at speed but producing next to zero noise could give new meaning to the term “silent but deadly.” That’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation has drafted legislation to ensure that, starting in 2020, all EVs and hybrids must emit some sort of noise at any speed over 19 miles per hour. Turns out, though, that there could potentially be one exception to the rule.

According to The Verge, Ford submitted a comment back in 2015 for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, shortly after the official public comment period ended, “regarding the legality of equipping certain vehicles used for security purposes with a means of turning off the required pedestrian alert sound.” Vehicles used for security purposes is most likely a roundabout way of saying police cars.

Although the actual comment from Ford has been redacted from the text of the public-facing rule, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in its public filing that it is responding to the comment from Ford. Whatever the final ruling may be, Ford told The Verge that its products will “meet the requirements of this rule.” We’d guess the actual implementation, if it were allowed, would be to provide officers with an on-off switch to enable silent operation.

It’s worth mentioning that police vehicles are usually equipped with all manners of lights and sirens to make them immediately noticeable to other drivers, particularly when the officers inside are traveling at speed or in pursuit. Under certain circumstances, like when sneaking up on unsuspecting criminals during a bust, we suppose, moving silently could certainly be a desirable feature.

If Ford does get a waiver to produce silent electric or hybrid police vehicles, there seems a reasonable chance that General Motors and FCA could follow suit.

Ford has purchased Detroit’s old train station, former owner says

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It’s all but Blue Oval-stamped official: Ford has purchased Detroit’s long-abandoned train depot, marking a return to the city where the company was founded 113 years ago and representing a pivotal moment for the economic fortunes of a long-suffering city.

Ford’s purchase of the decaying, 104-year-old Michigan Central Station was announced at a news conference organized by local businessman Matthew Moroun, whose family has owned the building since 1995.

“The deal is complete,” Moroun said. “Ford Motor Company’s blue oval will adorn the building.”

Ford spokesman Said Deep issued a brief statement following the announcement: “These are exciting times for Ford and Detroit. Together with the community, we look forward to announcing our plans for Michigan Central Station and Corktown on June 19th. It will be a historic day for Detroit, the auto industry and the future of Ford.”

That Ford was negotiating to buy the massive building, vacant since the late 1980s and until recent years lacking most of its windows, was the worst-kept secret in Detroit. News first leaked in March that Ford was eyeing the building, and the family transferred ownership on the building and an adjacent former schoolbook depository last month; Moroun himself told local media that Ford first approached the family about selling it in October of last year.

Ford is thought to be planning it as the anchor of an urban mobility campus in Detroit’s steadily revitalizing Corktown neighborhood, named for its waves of immigrants from Ireland’s County Cork, including the ancestors of Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. The company has also been negotiating for dozens of other nearby properties to form a campus to develop electric and autonomous vehicles. Ford recently moved 220 employees to a nearby building it calls The Factory to work on electric and autonomous vehicles.

Ford reportedly sees a move back into the city, where it hasn’t had a presence since 1996, as part of a strategy to help attract talent and help jump-start efforts to develop self-driving cars and electric vehicles. There are also rumors that Ford Jr. wants an office in the building.

The purchase of the building would have been seen as improbable even a year ago, having sat empty and windowless for decades, tagged by graffiti artists and serving as a destination for “ruin porn” photographers and urban spelunkers from around the world. The building will no doubt need tens of millions of dollars worth of renovations and upgrades for modern technology needs.

In recent years, the Moroun family said it spent $8 million to build a freight elevator inside the building’s old smokestack, removing asbestos and installing more than 1,000 windows, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. The news has so far had little impact on Ford’s stock, which was up a penny to $12.11 in early trading Monday.

[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]

Ford gets earnings boost, may drop Taurus and C-Max

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Ford on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly net profit due to a lower tax rate and increased U.S. sales of more-profitable pickup trucks, but forecast a slightly lower 2017 pre-tax profit and its shares dipped 1.2 percent in premarket trading.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker leaned heavily on consumer discounts during the quarter, and the value of its unsold vehicles rose. Ford also warned that its full-year automotive operating margin and cash flow would be lower than in 2016.

It said, however, that the reduced tax rate would boost its full-year net profit.

Ford shares were down 13 cents at $11.14.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford’s results come as the U.S. auto industry is bracing for a downturn with four consecutive months of declining sales. Analysts are concerned about the high discounts automakers are using to sell their vehicles and high supplies of unsold vehicles.

And as buyers turn to crossovers and pickups, automakers are considering the fate of slow-selling sedans. Ford may discontinue the large Taurus sedan for the U.S. market, sources have told The Detroit News. Last week the program director for the remodeled Fiesta hinted that the U.S. might not get the subcompact. And the C-Max hybrid might also sunset by early 2019, one source told the News.

Rival General Motors on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by cost-cutting, and promised to scale back production to cut its burgeoning inventories.

Ford said it now expect full-year adjusted earnings per share in a range from $1.65 to $1.85, above the $1.51 expected by Wall Street, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

But Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said this would be largely due to a tax rate of 15 percent for the year as Ford pulls forward deferred tax losses from outside the United States and that the exact number could be affected by how the market performs in the second half of the year. Wall Street had expected an effective tax rate of 30 percent for 2017.

Shanks said the company’s pre-tax profit would be slightly lower than the $9 billion Ford has previously forecast. Last year Ford reported a record pre-tax profit of $10.4 billion.

Ford’s CFO said the company has canceled plans to build the next generation of its compact Focus model in South America. For the North American market, Ford announced last month that it would move production of the Focus to China from Mexico.

The company reported second-quarter net income of $2.04 billion, or 51 cents per share, up from just under $2 billion, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the No. 2 U.S. automaker reported earnings per share of 56 cents, and on that basis analysts, on average, looked for 43 cents.

By Nick Carey and Paul Lienert

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford might not offer Fiesta in US in 2018

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There’s evidence that Ford won’t be offering its all-new 2018 Fiesta hatchback for sale in the United States, following domestic consumer preference trends toward trucks and SUVs and away from fuel-efficient small cars.

The website Carscoops reports that Fiesta program manager Robert Stiller told a Romanian automotive website that the new version of the hatchback might not make it to US showrooms.

“The previous model was a global Ford product, and with the new generation we are targeting only Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Stiller told the Romanian site 0-100, as translated by Carscoops. “In North America, especially in the US, China and Latin America, the demand for such cars is declining, and we are reacting accordingly.”

Ford sold fewer than 50,000 Fiestas in the U.S last year, down from 70,000 in recent years, Carscoops reports. The current Fiesta was introduced to Americans nearly a decade ago when gas was expensive and many shoppers were looking to downsize. Its sales have plummeted along with the price of fuel. The Fiesta remains popular in other global markets and is one of Ford’s older nameplates.

General Motors, which like other automakers is struggling with growing inventories of unsold small and midsized sedans, is reportedly also considering ending production of six passenger cars in the US after 2020, according to a Reuters report last week citing unnamed sources. Included in the speculation were the Chevrolet Volt hybrid and the Chevy Impala, both made at GM’s Hamtramck assembly plant in Detroit.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford Ranger Raptor spotted testing in Michigan?

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As if we didn’t already have ample reason to be excited by the arrival of a brand-new Ford Ranger pickup truck on American shores, we now have evidence that the Dearborn-based automaker has a jacked-up off-road variant in the works. Will it be called the Ranger Raptor? We don’t know, and honestly, we don’t really care … just so long as it’s real.

There appears to be an aggressive grille hiding behind the camouflage, probably similar to the one seen on the larger F-150 Raptor. But we’re more intrigued by the wide fender flares and the higher ground clearance than regular-grade Rangers. It’s impossible to tell what kind of shocks this Ranger prototype is wearing – note the odd fringe hiding under the rear axle – but we’d hope it’s something similar to the Fox shocks used for the larger Raptor. We’re pretty sure we see a skid plate, too.

This particular truck appears to be right-hand drive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not testing bits and baubles for a future US-spec product. If we had to wager a guess, the smart money is on a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. If so, expect something north of the 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque the turbocharged mill makes in regular F-150 guise. We’d also love to see Ford’s Ranger Raptor get the new diesel Power Stroke V6 that’ll debut soon in the F-150, but we’ll just have to wait and see. And we’ll probably be waiting several years, considering the regular Ranger isn’t slated for US consumption until 2019.

[Source: Autoblog]

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]