Ford GT set for hybrid-powered comeback

February 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The rumours are swirling around the upcoming Ford GT successor with speculation on the supercars powertrain taking a seemingly unlikely turn.

Apparently the next GT40 inspired supercar from Ford will use hybrid technology to help it achieve break-neck speeds. Like the Porsche 918 Spyder the layout will consist of a standard combustion motor turning the rear wheels with an electric motor powering the front wheels for better low-sped efficiency and to boost high-speed power.

It seems radical but electric-assisted drivetrains are here to stay and are beginning to find applications in all vehicles – even retro-styled supercars.

Before you Ford fans start tearing your hair out, the good news is that the primary engine is set to be a beast. Ford is expected to use a supercharged V8 motor and the total output including the fancy new hybrid system will be in the region of 600 horsepower. That output figure would exceed the last Ford GT’s 5.4-litre dry-sump, aluminum-block supercharged V8, which was rated at 550 horsepower. Continue reading “Ford GT set for hybrid-powered comeback” »

Next-gen 2011 Ford Ranger shows locomotive force (+video)

January 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new global Ford Ranger (read news) hasn’t been released but its already powered its way into the consciousness of many ute enthusiasts.

Now, to work up even more hype for Ford’s latest utility machine, the guys and gals at the Blue Oval have put on a little demo of its abilities. The company’s engineers decided to show off exactly how powerful the truck is, so they strapped it to a 160-ton locomotive and pulled the engine out of its brick-covered berth. The new top-spec Ranger will come packing Ford’s TDCi diesel 3.2-litre inline five-cylinder engine with 147kW of power and a whopping 470Nm of torque. Bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission and equipped with a low-range transfer case, the pickup truck appears to have no issues lugging the T-class diesel-electric locomotive out of storage.

Check back for more details on the upcoming Ford Ranger and view the video below. Continue reading “Next-gen 2011 Ford Ranger shows locomotive force (+video)” »

2011 Ford Territory – first teaser image revealed

December 15th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Australia has given blue oval fans a treat today with the first teaser image of the new-look 2011 Territory. Due out in around six month’s time the new Territory is set to breath life back into the well aged name plate.

First launched back in 2004 the current Territory is based on the underpinnings of the Falcon sedan and has only received subtle updates throughout its long production life. Now Ford Australia has committed to the Territory until at least 2016.

The new 2011 Territory will continue to make use of the Falcon platform but will use updated global styling inside and out, plus a number of new technologies, including the introduction of turbo-diesel power.

“The Ford Territory set a new benchmark when it was first released and it is set to achieve this again — and more,” said Bob Graziano, President and CEO of Ford Australia. “This is an exceptional SUV. It wears an exciting new look and will boast an extensive list of technical highlights. The Ford Australia team is taking the Territory to an all-new level of performance, refinement and quality, and customers will definitely experience these advancements when they drive it.”

Ford hasn’t released official details on powertrain options for the new Territory but the company had previously announced that the updated Territory would benefit from the introduction of the Ford and Peugeot-Citroen PSA co-developed 2.7-litre V6 turbo diesel motor. It’s also likely that Ford will make use of its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in this application, as the new powerplant has already been confirmed for the Australian market Falcon. Continue reading “2011 Ford Territory – first teaser image revealed” »

New Ford Focus global production kicks off

December 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The 2012 Ford Focus has already entered production in the States, but Ford is now stepping up it up and starting production for the rest of the world with the Saarlous Plant in Germany.  The new Focus represents the first example of the automaker’s “One Ford” global product strategy. Ford is now engineering cars that will be exactly the same in all markets, and will be built on three continents and shipped out to around 120 markets.

The Saarlous facility is a true mega factory and is capable of manufacturing up to 1,850 vehicles a day over the course of three shifts. All three of the Focus bodystyles (sedan, hatchback and wagon) will be produced there. The hot hatch Focus ST will also be produced there from 2012.

Next up after the German plant is the Ford factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, which will start turning out new Focus hatches and sedans from mid-2011. The last plants to kick into gear will be the Asian connection in Chongqing, China, and Rayong, Thailand. It’s these plants which will likely supply the pacific region including NZ. In total that makes it a five-plant, three-continent, 120-market roll-out of the Focus, creating a truly global vehicle.

Stay tuned for more news on the upcoming 2012 Ford Focus. Continue reading “New Ford Focus global production kicks off” »

Chevy Camaro set to outsell Ford Mustang for first time in 25 years

December 6th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new Chevy Camaro has gone from strength to strength this year and for a reward it looks set to steal away the yearly pony car sales crown from the Ford Mustang. It will be the first time in 25 years the Camaro has managed this achievement.

According to industry insiders, the GM has sold 75,685 Camaros in the States through to the end of November, while Ford has only shifted 68,264 units. With the current sales totals in mind, it’s estimated that Chevrolet will finish 2010 with around 82,500 sales and Ford with 74,500. Coming in third in the muscle car pack is Dodge’s Challenger with 36,000 units sold in 2010.

How did the Camaro break the trend and come up trumps?

There was a built-up demand for the Camaro among badge fans after its prolonged absence in the States, combined with an excellent product on launch has done the trick. What’s even more impressive about the Camaro’s sales total is that the Chevy has outsold the Ford and the Dodge with far fewer special editions and no convertible bodystyle like the Mustang. The rag top Camaro is on the way shortly and when that is finally released things will get even more interesting.

Ford New Zealand enhances Fiesta range for 2011

November 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Ford NZ has officially launched its updated Fiesta range for the local market at a special event held yesterday. The popular Fiesta range sees a number of additions and enhancements for the 2011 model year including a diesel power train option and the introduction of an all-new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.

The 2011 Fiesta range has been on sale since 1 November and now offers small-car buyers a wider choice with improved performance and style.

Chief amongst the 2011 Fiesta’s changes is the addition of the new PowerShift automatic six-speed transmission. The new transmission introduces an efficient and smooth-changing double dry-clutch option to the petrol variants that offers the convenience of an automatic with the fuel efficiency of a manual. Effectively, PowerShift consists of two transmissions working in parallel, each with its own clutch unit. This leads to less torque interruption and a more consistent, smoother drive. This new transmission will be available with the standard-fitment 1.6-litre petrol engine.

The 1.6L petrol engine delivers 89kW and 151Nm of torque and like its diesel siblings, fuel consumption is low, with both the PowerShift and manual petrol derivatives using just 6.1-litres per 100km combined.

The Fiesta line up also includes the expansion of diesel power train beyond the already announced ECOnetic model. The efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine is torque-rich — 200Nm — and very fuel-efficient, consuming just 4.4-litres per 100km combined. Partnering the diesel engine is a five-speed manual transmission. Meanwhile, the five-door Fiesta ECOnetic will continue to offer the greenest option for drivers at 3.7-litres per 100km, making it New Zealand’s most fuel-efficient vehicle.

Continue reading “Ford New Zealand enhances Fiesta range for 2011” »

Finalists announced for 2011 European Car of the Year

November 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

While there are a multitude of automotive awards out there in cyberspace the one many automakers value most remains the European Car of the Year. To find a winner for the coveted title seven publications from seven different countries get together each year to nominate their collective Car of the Year, and then announce it in one united voice.

The process takes place over the course of months with the first step being the nominations, then the finalists and ultimately the solitary winner. The finalists for 2011 have just been announced, and as you’d expect it’s heavily loaded with European vehicles, but the list is not without some surprises.

The finalists include the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroën C3/DS3, Renault/Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, Nissan Leaf, Opel/Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S60/V60. The Alfa’s nomination is a decade after its predecessor, the 147, took the award in its launch year. The Nissan Leaf is an interesting inclusion and represents the first time an electric vehicle has made it this far in the competition.

The winner will be announced on November 29, so check back then.

Ford records $1.7 billion third quarter profit – time to pay off debts

October 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It seems like the dark clouds over Detroit are clearing with reports that the Ford Motor Company has recorded a third quarter net income of $1.7 billion USD. This marks a $690 million USD improvement over the third quarter of 2009, fueled mostly by solid sales in the North American market.

Ford has been nicely profitable for five consecutive quarters now, with a current pre-tax operating profit of $2.1 billion — an improvement of $1.1 billion from a year ago.

Revenue for the last three months reached $29 billion, which is $1.3 billion less when compared to 2009 , but Ford is still far down the road to recovery.

Ford North America did particularly well, with a pre-tax operating profit of $1.6 billion a impressive $1.3 billion improvement over last year.

Ford has also used the occasion to announce that it’s working hard on debt reduction.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally has this to say, “This was another strong quarter and we continue to gain momentum with our One Ford plan. Delivering world class products and aggressively restructuring our business has enabled us to profitably grow even at low industry volumes in key regions”.