Friday, July 28, 2006
So let's see, the MKZ that's supposed to mean Mark Zephyr? Why not keep the Zephyr name, it's a classic Lincoln/Mercury name. This is a fine car, not a great car, so why the pretention of the MK? Hell they should have just gone with Versailles. Cause that's what this is a modern Versailles/Granada/Monarch.
The MKX, now as if they hadn't learned from the lawsuit, it's just too close to MDX for comfort. And what does it mean? Mark Xtera ? Mark Xtreme? Mark X ? I know it's supose to invoke some sort of offroad conotation, but it doesn't and they will never be off road anyway, so why bother? Let's call it the Mark Mom, or Mark Maid, even better let's call it Aviator! That's what the name was supposed to be anyway. Aviator was a catchy name. I liked the old Aviator, and the name fits this better than MKX.
MKS, now don't even get me started, this is just too easy to make fun of. I guess it's supposed to be Mark Sedan, but SH*T is more like it. How about Mark Subaru? The wrong car for the wrong market and a stupid name to boot. It's not that I don't think it's nice. I just don't think it's the car Lincoln needs. Hell, take this body and give it to Mercury to replace the Montego. If you needed a name for a sedan, why not Taj Mahal or Buckingham Palace? Some other royal residence, since Versailles would already be taken by the MKZ.
I'm just fed up with this crap, someone at Ford should be fired for the whole naming scheme. It's just not funny anymore, it's sad.
Same with this 3 door wagon version of the Ford Versailles. In my last post I was just talking about Ford Focus overtaking the VW Golf as the top dog in Europe and here they are rebadging each other's cars in Brazil. Each company also sold these cars in other parts of Latin America and even exported to China.
And what is that VW? It's a Ford Verona, or a 2 door version of the Ford Orion from Europe. If I've got it right and you can check the Wiki article linked in the title to check, the Ford Orion was a 4 door sedan version of the Ford Escort but in Latin America a 2 door sedan was needed hence the Verona, also badged as the VW Apollo. It get's better, the Ford Escort hatch was sold as the VW Pointer ( later changed to a Nissan platform in other markets) And the VW Passat/Quantum became the Ford Versailles and in wagon form the Versailles Royale.
This is a UK Ford Orion 4 door. As when VW stretched the Golf to become the Jetta, Ford added a trunk to the Escort to create Orion.
It's funny with all of the recent talk of "alliances", mergers and joint ventures recently, to realize what an incestuous industry it already is. It's a spider web of shared platforms and powertrains and just outright rebadging around the globe already.
Quick list of companies that Ford has worked with over the years around the globe; VW, Nissan (Maverick, Quest), Fiat, Mitsubishi(supplied Diesels to Ford Ranger and Joint venture in South Africa), PSA ( Citreon and Peugeot) Yamaha(SHO engines and now Volvo V8), Kia (Festiva/Aspire) , Mazda, Volvo, SAAB ( Ford sold them V4's) GM (new 6 & 7 speed auto transmissions) BMW ( Range Rover purchase and engine supply until Ford had powertrain) and of course Jaguar and Aston Martin. This doesn't even count the many "Specialty" manufacturers such as Shelby, DeTomaso or Koenigseg . Can you add to this list?
My what a tangled web we weave?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Golf (now Rabbit again in the US) was "The Compact." The car that set the benchmark for others to follow. No more, now the benchmark is the Focus II with it's sophisticated suspension, excelent handling and ride characteristics and boring (?) styling. There's an interesting point in David's piece where he discusses that because Ford is an American brand it will never be the top seller in Germany and France ( each country's sense of automotive patriotism prevents that) and therefore must make up for that fact by outperforming the Renault and VW models throughout the rest of Europe. And how does it do it? Because it's so well designed and built that people want them!
Now I don't agree that the Focus II has boring or bland styling, but my tastes run toward the subtle. But just wait until you see the CGI of the next Focus that David has ! More of the Kinetic styling we're not getting!
I've been reading reviews from around the world and the Focus in any trim level seems to be getting rave reviews. Hell, I read over at Jalopnik about a "Special Edition" Focus ST for Japan, where the only special feature is that it's white! And they are only going to sell 10 of them, so there will be a bidding war and waiting list!
The Focus Mk II's C1 platform which sits under my Mazda Axela (3) and the Volvo C30/S40/V50 is a fantastic set up and we need to have this Ford Focus in the US pronto!!!! Hell, it's sold in Russia and China but not in the US???
David M over at Auto-Future (link finally added on sidebar) has a piece on the new 2008 Ford Ka. We won't see the Ka in the US, but this follows up a piece I did a while back about Ford and Fiat sharing platforms. The Ka, which had been Fiesta based, now will share suspension and other parts with the Fiat 500, and according to David possibly engines.
David is from the UK and does a nice blog on future European models. He's collected quite a few CGI Photoshop images of the Focus, Mondeo, Ka and other European Fords and others. He's had an interesting series of recent posts on "The New Compact" that's worth looking at.
Bill Ford you DUMBASS!!! You've let the Panther platform waste away, and now Town Car production is going to end just as Chrysler is set to introduce a long wheelbase version of their 300! Rear wheel drive is what the market is calling for and you're going to replace the Town Car with an all wheel drive version of the 500? With Chrysler's sucess with 300/Magnum/Charger and GM's rumored return to rear wheel drive, Ford is not going to bring a new rear wheel drive platform to the US market? What about the 2 good rear wheel drive platforms you have? The Lincoln LS and Ford Australia Falcon!
What about the fact that even Hyundai is set to bring a rear wheel drive V8 sedan to the US market? Click the link in title to read AutoBlog story on the Hyundai Equs. The gloves have to come off, time to call a DUMBASS a DUMBASS! Get with the times. It's time to start kicking some butt in Dearborn Bill. You've had since 1979 to come up with a replacement for the Panther, do it! At this point I don't care if you stretch the Mustang chassis as every pundit and enthusiast has been saying, do what ever you have to in order to get the job done. The LS Chassis is better and the Falcon chassis is great, nobody wants FoMoCo to be the new Subaru!
It seems that Cummins is going to start building light duty Diesels for one of Ford's competitors, most likely Chrysler, for their pickups and SUVs. So Ford needs to get off the stick and bring the new V8 Diesel from Europe over here, not just in Range Rovers and Jaguars, but Explorers, Expeditions and F150s, and they better be quick about it!
Well, I guess I can wipe that silly smile off my face, it seems that the 4,700 vehicles in the Norwegian owned, Singapore flagged cargo ship Cougar Ace off the Aleutian Islands were all Mazdas.
The Cougar Ace was heading for Vancouver British Columbia and then ultimately Ventura California full of 3's and CX7's. So I'm sure some customers will be getting an unhappy phone call telling them their order has been delayed.
You know, I've always been wary of these cargo ships with their ownership in Europe and all being flagged from various Asian countries and crewed by an mish mash of international sailors. Who oversees inspections and certifications? Is it just luck that this doesn't happen more often?
Now Mazda was fully insured so they'll write off the loss and pump out more units from their Hiroshima factory. Customers will have a bit of a delay in recieving their new cars. But luckily it doesn't seem that anybody was seriously hurt, other than one crew member with a broken leg. And so far there has been no news of leaked fuel or any ecological disaster as a result.
But if they can get the ship righted what's going to happen to those cars? Many of them probably have water damage and paint and body damage. I mean look at the pictures, that's a serious list. Those vehicles definitely shifted, and by shifted I mean slammed into one another. So do you think these cars will be destroyed or quietly sold to unsuspecting buyers around the globe?
Note; I want to make clear that I did not steal the headline from Joe Sherlock's View Through The Windshield, it really was a coincidence.
Click his link on the sidebar to see what I'm talking about.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
What about this? The Iosis which was praised globally and will be the inspiration for future European Ford styling. While we get "Dave" everyone else gets "Kinetic." What a snore, wake up Bill ditch Dave, and give us some style!
Hey, you want something to compete with Scion, Dodge, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and all the others? How about putting the Focus platform under the Faction and getting some of that "youth" market?
Want to take advantage of the trailing edge of the "retro" craze ? Bring out the Bronco! People were six deep around this at the New York Auto Show. It's a no brainer according to every enthusiast. Just look at Mini and the new Toyota FJ Cruiser!
And don't forget my Reflex!!!!!!!!!!!!
A friend of my brother is in the market for a new Family hauler and has decided on the Mazda 5. Good choice! The Mazda 5 which shares DNA with the 3 and CX7 is an innovative wagon/van. The only hints of mini van involved are the sliding rear doors. With three rows of 2 bucket seats each, it's a perfect compromise between wagon and van. With the same 2.3 L I-4 as my Mazda 3 making 160 hp through a 4 speed auto, it won't lag in traffic, but will get reasonable milage if Jayson doesn't put his foot to the floor too often. I myself looked at the 5 before buying the 3 and found it to be a great little hauler. But the 3 suited my needs better.
Good luck ! And give us some feedback on the driving experience if you can.
The Ford F series truck has been the best selling vehicle in the world for 26 years! That's not just the US, but with sales of over 900,000 anually that's just amazing. To put this in perspective there are probably not 900,000 Feraris built altogether since they started turning wrenches 50 years ago. It takes many models several years to sell a million units and Ford sells nearly that many F Series a year.
And to think old Henry Ford didn't want to build trucks? He reluctantly allowed the Model TT into production when executives around him pointed to the number of converted Model T's around the world. So Ford built trucks, man did they ever!
Trucks in all sizes from big to small and everything in between. Trucks for every concievable use. In every market around the globe Ford has a truck for any job you need. From the little Fiesta based Bantam/Courier mini ute or "backie" to the over the road big rigs. Ford trucks are part of the global landscape.
And now, the meat and potatoes of Ford's sales seem to have hit a wall. Sales of large trucks and SUVs have slowed and incentives like cash back, low interest loans and gas debit cards are offered to clear the dealers' lots. So does this mean Ford has had it? Will Ford abandon the truck market? ( Hell I can't believe I even typed that one.) Is there any hope for Ford and our American love afair with the truck? Well, no, no and yes!
While there is a rough road ahead for Ford and our nation there is hope and possability for a recovery. Ford Motor Company has been working on several technologies that can help relieve the pain of $3+ gallon fuel.
Let's be clear from the start E-85 is not the answer! It's a stop gap effort and a loophole for the manufacturers, not a boon to consumers. The facts are that E-85 powered Flex Fuel Vehicles get poorer milage than conventional fueled vehicles when they burn E-85, if you can find E-85. Diesels on the other hand get better fuel milage and deliver more power than Gasoline or E-85 powered vehicles. Now with new emissions standards Diesels are being pulled from the market, but with new technologies and "Low Sulphur" Diesel coming to market, Diesels will be back with a vengance, and FoMoCo is positioned to really meet our national need. Ford has Diesels in 4, 6 & 8 Cylinders that could be pressed into service in light, medium and heavy duty pickups and SUVs across their lineup. They're gearing up production of Diesels in France and England for the global markets, and partner brands destined for the US market.
In addition to Diesels, Ford has been working on Hydraulic Launch Assist for medium and heavy duty trucks and Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engines for busses and trucks. The SuperChief Concept truck was powered by a Supercharged Hydrogen burning V-10.
And for light duty trucks and crossover SUVs there is the posability of Hybrid drivetrains. The new Edge is based on mechanicals used in the Fusion and there is a planned Hybrid version on the way.
For those that need large trucks and SUVs or just feel they do, it's going to be a tough road until some of this technology comes to market, but Ford has been working hard to bring them to market. There have been stories online for months about Diesels for Expedition and Possibly Explorer and overseas the Ranger has had a Diesel for years.
The reality is that trucks, even smaller trucks use a lot of fuel, and some people will move away from trucks towards cars and car based vehicles. So there may be shrinkage in the truck market, and that means the ones that get the greatest share of what's left will be the ones that innovate and adapt. I believe Ford can come out on top again. What do you think?
Ford has been selling a crate version of the 5.0 "Cammer" motor for about a year now and it's the powerplant used by racing teams. 5.0 is close to the 302 ci displacement of the original Boss Mustang from 69-70.
The Boss will fit nicely between the "Base" Mustang GT and the SVT Shelby GT500 in both price and performance. I'm sure they'll be limited production units and as hard to find as the Shelbys. And you know that dealers will charge a hefty premium too.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
But what's more interesting than the spy photos, is the discussion about the future of the Focus both at AutoBlog and at Foculjet Forums.
It seems Ford is considering killing the Focus 3 & 5 door hatches, as well as the station wagon, leaving the 4 door sedan and a possible 2 door coupe. So they're going to "Americanize" the Focus by killing most versions. I'm not sure that's the "Bold Move" I'd make, but let's explore this further.
3 door hatchbacks seem to be loosing favor in the US, even Honda no longer offers the Civic in hatchback form. So while I prefer the look of a 3 door hatch and Volvo is introducing the C30, a 3 door version of the Focus C1 based S40/V50, Ford wants to cut out the bottom rung of the Focus ladder. Debateable move, but there is a trend away from 3 doors.
Now 5 door hatchbacks and little utes are all the rage now, with the new Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Hyundais selling well. Toyota has the Matrix and Mazda the 3 (also Focus C1 based). Dodge just moved away from the Neon sedan with the Caliber and Jeep is coming to market with 2 clones the Patriot and Compass. So why would Ford kill the 5 door? And the Wagon too? Now nobody is going to acuse the Focus wagon of being exciting, but it's one of the last compact station wagons on the market. So does Ford have a new model coming that will fit in this niche? Or are they just going to abandon the 5 door/wagon/ute market?
The 4 door sedan does seem to be the most popular Focus right now and is a good car. I'm reserving judgement on the "Dave" styling until I see better pictures. But the Focus does offer a competitor to Honda's Civic and Toyota's Corrola. But the Civic is all new and the Corrolla is due for replacement soon.
Now a 2 door coupe? That could be interesting, Honda has had success with their coupe as has Chevy with the Cobalt. But this has been a shrinking market segment, isn't it?
So is Ford doing to the Focus what they did to the Escort? Breaking ties with it's European roots, differentiating the model so much that they have little more than a name in common? The last generation Escort if you remember was nothing more than a rebadged Mazda 323 with none of the Ford Escort DNA from Europe.
It's said that Ford will bring a new Focus to the US in 2010 based on the C1 platform. Well hell what other platform can they use? But that will be how many years after the C1 saw world wide release?
There are pros and cons for some of these moves, but Ford had better sort out their plans quickly and bring competative variations to the North American Market as soon as possible or sooner. Maybe the new Focus based Crossover? Will the new Focus Coupe be based on the European Coupe/Cabriolet?
The "Way Forward" seems to involve a lot of chasing their own tale in my opinion.
Globally Crew Cab "Compact" pickups are far more popular than standard cabs. And Ford knows this, because in every market except North America they offer a crew cab Ranger. This is the new Ranger for the rest of the world. I've discussed it many times in the past and praised it's 2 Diesel powerplants.
But enthusiasts here in the US seem to be longing for a more American answer to the Ranger problem. A return to simpler times and an historic name.
This is a 1973 Ford F100 Ranger. Many people in comments and in recent e-mails like Larry B have been of the opinion that Ford needs to replace the undersized unloved Ranger with a new F100 which would be a 3/4 scale F150 clone.
The F150 replacing the F100 as the base Fullsize Pickup in 1983, has grown to mamoth proportions. It wasn't just the "Compact" pickups that packed on the pounds. But the F150 is still the best selling vehicle in the world after something like 26 years. So maybe they have a point?
God knows FoMoCo hasn't been giving the Ranger much support in the US market. They've undermined it with the Sport Trac based on the Explorer SUV, which was originally based on Ranger mechanicals. But the overpriced Sport Trac is no real competition for the likes of Frontier, Tacoma, Canyon/Colorado or Dakota. It lacks the real utility of the real pickups.
So why did Ford squander it's lead in the US? Why didn't we get a crew cab and more powerful powertrain options? I love my Ranger, and would have jumped on one like this crew cab from overseas markets.
Is the Ranger name so diluted that it's time to resurect the F100 name? With fuel prices rising do we need a larger "Compact" pickup from Ford? I hate to say it, but Larry and others may have a point. Current Rangers are the favorite of value buyers and fleets, but not the true class leader they once were. So bring on the F100, but consider the Diesel options of the foreign Rangers.
What say you?
Monday, July 24, 2006
Is FoMoCo shorting supplies of manual transmission Mustang GTs? If so why? I got an email today from my older brother, who is searching for a Mustang GT with the standard shift. And he can't find one on any dealer lot in our tri-state area. I had noticed this myself when looking at inventories online earlier in the year. Here is part of that e-mail;
I am sending you this email to see if you can give me a reasonable answer, besides "supply and demand", why 5 speed Mustang GT's are so hard to come by more than two years into the car's run. I suffered through the nonsense that there was a problem with the supplier, but all I see is one of two things; either Ford is trying to reduce warranty claims by selling cars that have the electronics to save engines before they are damaged by overzealous shifters or they are incredibly stupid and giving the majority of the manual cars to Saleen, Roush and Steeda and friends first and saving whatever trickles out for dealers to sell at full sticker or over by milking long loyal Ford customers. I have looked for a Red GT convertible with a manual transmission for the last several months to no avail. As you know, I purchased two other manual GTs and had no problem finding either vehicle in stock and for a discounted price. The closest I could find was a Red Roush convertible with a 5 speed that did not have a suspension package or performance package, it was just a bodykit and tacky interior with Roush signatures for 43K..... I would appreciate an honest answer about what Ford is doing or has done to return purchasing a GT Mustang with a 5 speed to a simple trip to you local dealer and some fair bargaining.
So, is Ford keeping GTs with Manual transmissions scarce for any reason that you've heard? Could it be a regional thing? I've yet to see a Mustang with a Manual transmission, never mind a GT. What's the deal? I believe it's a combination of stupidity on the manufacturer and dealers.
Feedback from Mustang fans around the nation would be appreciated.
Friday, July 21, 2006
This is an interesting way to highlight the availability of E-85 or lack of it. Give it a read, maybe bookmark it to check their progress. And if you have an E-85 capable Flex Fuel vehicle try out their fuel locator.
Monday, July 17, 2006
I was reading AutoBlog on the weekend, and found this interesting. I'm not a Motorcycle person, not a big fan. And really I don't understand the apeal of Trikes. But this odd trike is Ford powered, a 2.3L from the Focus making 150 hp. And even odder to me, is that it uses a steering wheel instead of handle bars.
The idea that keeps getting kicked around is Ford seeking a partnership like the possible GM/Renault-Nissan alliance. And comments made by Bill Ford Jr in a NYT interview keeps some people hoping.
Now I'm not convinced that Ford needs a global partner, but I'm willing to speculate like everyone else. Who would make a good global partner for Ford? Well, let's see who they're already working with around the globe, not who they own or control but who they're sharing technologies with. Ford is already working with PSA the French parent company of Peugeot and Citreon building Diesel powerplants for both company's brands. Ford is sharing platform and technology with FIAT as we speak. They share suppliers like Aisin with Toyota and others, for their Hybrid system's transmission. Ford has cooperated on shared platforms with Nissan in the past.
But what company could be a propper fit for an alliance/merger?
Vokswagen is out, they're having problems of their own, and Porsche is said to be taking more of a share in their larger partner. BMW? I don't think so, BMW would realize no real benefit from any such deal. Mercedes is already merged with Chrysler. Audi? See VW since they're the same company.
Maybe an Asian company? Well, I don't know, Ford already owns a controlling share of Mazda and it's been a profitable partnership for both. But if Ford were to have another Asian alliance, would it strain that relationship? Nissan is already spoken for. Mitsubishi? No, they're having problems of their own, and have nothing to offer FoMoCo.
Let's just cut to the chase on Asia/Japan the only major players worth looking at are Toyota and Honda.
Toyota competes too closely with Ford on trucks and Hybrids, and gains nothing from a merger.
Honda? Well, other than trucks what does Ford have that Honda would want? And as for trucks, they've been doing well enough with their Pseudo-Truck the Ridgeline and don't seem very interested in entering the traditional pickup market. Honda has very sucessful Hybrid models and gains nothing from such an alliance. Not in my humble opinion.
So who would be a fit for Ford? Aside from Nissan/Renault?
As I see it, Ford is better concentrating on their recovery plan, and bringing updated, more relivant models to the market. Ford needs to stay the course with some their promises, like the Hybrid production that they have backed off recently. Ford turns a profit overseas, they just need to get their North American unit back on track and quickly. They've got the partnerships they need already with Mazda and PSA. Maybe sell off Jaguar and Aston Martin, keep Volvo and Range Rover, and don't upset Mazda. Ford has the pieces of the puzzle if they can only assemble them in time. Diesels, Hybrids, some of their smaller Euro platforms and a new rear wheel drive replacement for Panther siblings. Learn to diversify away from dependance on trucks and SUVs, while keeping these fresh.
What do you think?
Gary over at The Garage points to an interesting Volvo concept that is capable of running on 5 different fuels. Two of those fuels are Gasoline and E-85, but the CNG and other gaseous fuels make it more flexible.
Go on over to The Garage (Link in title) and read about this in more detail.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Not really a new rumor, having been bounced around for over a year. But Ford Australia has a great track record with rear wheel drive platforms.
And of course styling, as speculated many times before, is said to be along the lines of the 427 concept.
It could be just wishful thinking, but any hopeful news about Ford is worth repeating. I just hope we aren't dashed against the rocks of reality yet again.
He makes it seem as if Bill Ford jr rested control from compitent management and ran the company into the ground. But that's not exactly true is it. He reluctantly took over at Ford Headquarters after another famous figure took FoMoCo to the brink. Most of Bill Ford Jr's problems were the legacy of...
Jacques Nasser, milionaire playboy and entreprenuer, well at leat in his own mind. It was Nasser that took FoMoCo cash reserves and bought luxury brands such as Jaguar and Aston Martin, more out of ego than good business practice. It was Nasser's dreams of diversification and forays into Internet companies that cost Ford much of those investment dollars. Maybe Mr Levin should crack a book?
And as I posted on the other day, Ford could be just two or three sucessful model launches from recovery. And with their substantial lead over DCX and GM in Hybrid/Alternative Fuel Technologies, they're in a better position if legislation and trends force the industry toward greener vehicles. No turn around is quick unfortunately, and if all you're concerned about is stock price and dividends you may be short sighted.
Ford has the ability to design and build great vehicles, such as have been introduced in Europe. But American consumers have been resistant to some of these designs. Enthusiasts see the European mini vans and it appeals to them, but the average consumer still has the bad taste of past failures.
Maybe now with the higher cost of fuel we may see some of Ford's European influence, in new smaller models like the Fiesta.
Ford has some great new ideas and some of them will take time to come down the pipeline, maybe Mr Levin needs to look beyond the recent headlines and the latest stock prices to see this.
What do you think? Can Ford turn it around? What overseas models or concepts do you think could provide FoMoCo the boost in sales it needs? New today that Ford is going to extend warranties on new models is a promissing sign to me, that Ford can and will make some Bold Moves, but more are needed.