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Every year in Spain, the biggest members of the telecommunications industry get together to show off the latest in technology. This year, Ford Motor Company executive chairman, Bill Ford spoke about his vision of mobile technology and how it fits in with Ford’s plans.
Ford mainly discussed an infrastructure of connected cars to help reduce traffic and gridlock. He said the number of cars on the road will likely quadruple by 2050 to reach 4 billion. He’s been working hard at trying to resolve the congestion issues that would arise with such an increase.
One of his ideas involves connecting cars, transport officials and mobile devices to create a global transportation solution.
“Now is the time for us all to be looking at vehicles on the road the same way we look at smartphones, laptops and tablets; as pieces of a much bigger, richer network.”
Ford’s plan, called “BluePrint for Mobility,” has ambitious short and long term goals.
The company aims to develop an intuitive in-car mobile platform that can warn drivers of traffic jams and accidents. There are also plans in plance to build on current technology like autonomous parking. Think of Ford’s latest technologies, like Active Park Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, but enhanced to the next level.
Some more radical ideas from Ford include reserving parking spots for destinations before you leave the house, just imagine Christmas Eve without the murderous suburban mothers in mall parking lots.
“Cars are becoming mobile communications platforms and as such, they are a great untapped opportunity for the telecommunications industry. Right now, there are a billion computing devices in the form of individual vehicles out on our roads,” Ford said.
Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford (great-grandson of Henry Ford) revealed to Fortune magazine that his namesake automaker will apparently launch a global line of electric vehicles, with 25 percent of Ford’s lineup available with some degree of electrification by 2020.
Ford cited the electric Focus and both plug-in and fully electric versions of the C-Max as the start of a shift towards electric vehicles as a viable alternative to gasoline powered passenger cars, but the surprising nugget of information within the article was Ford’s calls for government involvement in the propagation of electric vehicles.
“I think it’s a matter of national security to have a competitive American battery industry,” said Ford. “Washington should increase R&D spending here unless they want to cede the development of batteries to other nations.” Ford cited China as the most imminent threat, as they have made significant strides in lithium-ion battery technology, and Ford fears that America will fall behind in one of the most important emerging industries.
Furthermore, Ford also laid out a vision for future cars that is heavily reliant on smart-phones, WiFi and GPS technology, which would enable cars to talk to one another and share information on traffic jams and other pertinent data, all in the name of eco-friendliness.
[Source: The Globe and Mail]
Mercury‘s glory days are long over, with the brand lacking anything exciting or unique since the muscle car era. With the Grand Marquis scheduled to die alongside its customer base, and every other Mercury product available right next door at the Ford showroom, the storied brand is set to be euthanized by its parent company, Ford Motor Co., according to a report by Bloomberg News Service.
Ford executives are reportedly readying a proposal to kill Mercury, and will present the plan at a board meeting this July. While Ford is in good financial shape, shuttering Mercury would make sense, as two of its four cars are scheduled to die next year, leaving it a lame duck amid strong Ford and Lincoln lineups. General Motors has closed down three brands within the last decade, and Chrysler closed down its Plymouth division in 2001, so the move would not be unprecedented. Ford has spent 88 percent less on the brand from 2005 to 2009, as sales declined rapidly.
Ford posted a $2.1 billion profit for this quarter, beating market expectations by a full year despite a lull in the new vehicle market. Ford has undergone a series of cost-cutting measures, including plant closures and layoffs, but has also introduced a torrent of new product in nearly every segment.
Ford hasn’t earned $2 billion profit since 2004, when the company sold 17 million vehicles. Expectations for this year include sales of fewer than 12 million cars and trucks. Ford’s strong performance has been attributed to a number of factors. New products like the Fiesta, Mustang, Edge and Fusion have been extremely well received by the automotive press and well as consumers. Sales of the full-size Taurus are up 96 percent from the previous generation. Ford’s image has also remained strong, as it avoided taking government loans (unlike rivals GM and Chrysler), and avoided the quality problems that have plagued Toyota.
However, Ford’s executive chairman told the New York Times that the success of the company was attributable to its own strengths, not the weaknesses of its competitors.
“I don’t know how much it really helped because it’s all about the product,” Mr. Ford told reporters after a speech in Detroit this month. “People will come into our showrooms but if they don’t see anything they like, they’ll go elsewhere.”
New 2.0-liter 4-cylinder makes 155-hp, EcoBoost engine coming
Ford has just unveiled the first example of its new One Ford philosophy, the 2011 Focus. Offered as both a five-door hatchback and four-door sedan, both models look quite unique but offer the same aggressive front end and high-quality paint. At launch one engine will be offered, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with direct-injection technology that makes an impressive 155-hp and 145 ft-lbs of torque. Ford has, however, confirmed that the Focus will be offered with an EcoBoost engine in all markets in the future. Presumably, this will be Ford’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost with 180-hp.
The 2.0-liter engine is the fist naturally aspirated direct-injection engine used by Ford in North America and comes mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that works to improve fuel economy and deliver lightning quick shifts.
No fuel-economy numbers have been released yet, but Ford says the new focus will be a fuel economy leader. That is quite a claim considering the new Chevy Cruze gets 40 mpg on the highway.
Ford plans to offer the new Focus with plenty of optional premium items including keyless entry, active park assist, a backup camera and the next generation of Ford’s SYNC technology, MyFord Touch.
Described by Bill Ford as “responsible, fun and functional,” Ford said that the industry is at the intersection of the economy, energy and the environment and that the company’s that will succeed will deliver these aspects in an exciting package.
At the launch of the car, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said it was “the right car for the right time, for the right reasons.” Ford, is betting on the compact car segment, which is expected to grow to 25 percent of the U.S. market by 2012. In addition, compact cars make up 25 percent of all cars sold throughout the world. In total, Ford plans to launch 10 vehicles based on the new Focus platform, including the C-Max MPV, which will launch in the U.S. later this year.
GALLERY: 2011 Ford Focus
Official release after the jump:
Suppliers tout necessity of diesel engines at Clean Transportation conference, while Ford CEO comes to the defense of electric, hybrid cars
The CEO of auto parts supplier Bosch today told a crowd at the National Summit for Clean Transportation that U.S. automakers must adopt diesel technology in order to meet the strict new CAFE standards the Obama Administration has laid out. The new legislation will see fleet averages for passenger cars rise to 35.5 mpg for 2016, up significantly from 27.3 mpg for 2011.
The words of Bosch CEO Peter Marks were echoed by Borg Warner CEO Tim Manganello, who noted that diesel engines get 30 percent better fuel economy over gasoline engines, with 50 percent more torque, while emitting 25 percent fewer emissions.
Marks then called on General Motors, Chrysler and Ford to act now to bring diesels to the U.S.
Both men, whose companies make parts for fuel-efficient cars like the Volkswagen TDI (pictured above), also expressed their lack of optimism in both the electric car and hybrids, noting that there are still several roadblocks in getting the electric car to the mass market and that hybrids don’t often deliver the fuel-economy they are touted to.
Manganello said that, “hybrids are not as attractive as the PR hype,” noting that 72 percent of hybrid owners choose not to purchase a second one.
Of the Big Three, Ford Chairman Bill Ford was in attendance and came to the defense of both hybrids and electric vehicles, noting the critical acclaim that the 2010 Fusion Hybrid has achieved – not to mention its fuel-economy. And to rebuff the suppliers skepticism about bringing electric vehicles to market, Bill Ford stated that the Ford Motor Company has a pure electric vehicle coming out this year and an electric Focus the year afterward.
Using the opportunity to promote Ford’s EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged V6 that gets V6 fuel economy and V8 power, Bill Ford did say that FoMoCo was ready with diesels if the North American market was open to them.
Ford is the second largest producer of diesel engines in Europe, he told the audience, before stating that if there was demand FoMoCo could easily bring them over for use in U.S. vehicles.