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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Despite plans by both Mazda and General Motors to bring diesel passenger cars to North America, Ford isn’t biting. The moves made by both automakers are partially in response to demand, but more importantly in response to increasingly strict CAFE standards that they need to meet.
According to Ford global product boss Derrick Kuzak, the automaker doesn’t need to sell diesels, (like the 65-mpg Fiesta EcoNetic offered in the U.K.), in the U.S. because of its EcoBoost gasoline engine technology.
“We could easily bring diesels to the U.S. market,” he said in an interview with Automotive News but, “We are not going to force it on customers.”
According to Kuzak, Ford’s fuel efficient powertrain plan is, “driven by affordability,” and at current fuel prices and the added cost of a diesel powertrain, he estimates it could take up to 10 years for customers to see the benefits of diesel.
While skyrocketing gas prices may change that, in the mean time Ford is committed to its EcoBoost plan of adding direct-injection and turbochargers to smaller engines to achieve fuel economy close to that found in modern diesels.
[Source: Automotive News]
As part of a revitalization program for Lincoln vehicles, Ford announced a series of measures aimed to take Lincoln even further upmarket.
Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford’s Vice President for Global Product Development Derrick Kuzak said that the Blue Oval was aiming for a “full differentiation” of Lincoln. Future Lincolns would not share any powertrains or sheetmetal with their Ford cousins. Ford is also requiring Lincoln dealers to upgrade their showrooms, with the hope that many will leave their franchise rather than invest the substantial sums required to carry out the improvements.
While upgraded interiors, V6 engines and all-wheel drive are slated for Lincoln’s future products, rear-drive is apparently not in the cards, nor is an international launch. “Our focus right now is in the United States because we have a lot of brand equity,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally told Automotive News. “And we didn’t tarnish the brand, we just didn’t invest in it.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Ford will unveil a high-performance ST version of its all-new Focus at the Paris Auto Show this Fall, and we’re almost certain to see it hit our shores. Ford product boss Derrick Kuzak already commented that a high-performance version of the 2011 Focus would be “exciting to drive and to look at” and use EcoBoost technology. It’s not yet clear if Ford is planning to use it’s EcoBoost 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, which currently makes around 200-hp in the S-Max, or if Ford will continue its engine down-sizing by using a new 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder with closer to 180-hp. The car is expected to have a 0-60 time of roughly 6 seconds.
When Kuzak unveiled the Focus at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, he confirmed that a high-performance EcoBoost model would be sold globally.
Along with the new ST model, Ford is expected to unveil full production models of the Focus sedan and wagon.
Last week any future cooperation between Ford and Mazda seemed unlikely after Ford president Mark Fields announced the two companies would no longer share platforms. Now company execs on both sides are reasserting a “long-term partnership.” Both Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi have been in talks to discuss future collaborations.
News of a separation between the U.S. and Japanese automaker came as little surprise, as recently Ford sold off much of its stake in Mazda, reducing its portion of from 33 percent to just 11 percent. The partnership is the longest running in the auto industry, dating back to 1979. Initially Ford benefited tremendously from Mazda’s Japanese technology and work practices, however, more recently, Mazda has been the benefactor, as Ford propped it up when an effort to take on Honda and Toyota in the mainstream auto business failed.
“Our strategic alliance will remain intact,” said Mazda’s VP of manufacturing Masaharu Yamaki. Ford execs weren’t quite as strong worded with Ford CFO Lewis Booth quoted as saying that, “The strategic relationship continues. The business relationships continue. And they continue on the basis that they’ve always continued. Where it works to the benefit of both companies, we do things together, and where it doesn’t, we don’t.”
Ford’s business plan has seen it sell off its shares in other automakers and it is currently looking to find a buyer for Volvo. This plan is in many ways the reason that Ford avoided bankruptcy as it not only created a huge influx of cash, but it did so at the perfect time, when the luxury brands it sold off (like Jaguar and Land Rover) saw massive sales declines. There is still an unwillingness to set Mazda entirely free, however, as Ford relies on the Japanese automaker for some of its most important products: the mid-size Fusion being based on the Mazda6 and the sub-compact Fiesta based on the Mazda2.
“We’re still dependent on each other,” said Ford’s global product boss Derrick Kuzak. “You cannot change that overnight.”
Still, as Kuzak suggests, Ford is looking to separate itself from Mazda and despite all the reassuring words of a partnership between the two companies, Ford isn’t recanting on its “no platform sharing” statement. And so while there are still opportunities for the two automakers to work together on certain products, Mazda isn’t sitting around and waiting for Ford. Recent reports have suggested that Mazda has begun a partnership with Toyota that will see Prius hybrid technology go into use in a future Mazda3 model.
[Source: The Detroit News]
New 300-horse V6 and 5.0-liter V8 rumored to be revealed
Rather than the more traditional venue of Detroit, the Ford Motor Company will use the LA Auto Show to debut its new lineup of 2011 Mustang models. Just last year the car was significantly revised with a modernized exterior and a significantly improved interior that is now well beyond what the competition is offering. There’s only one problem, with just mild updates to the engine, both the V6 and V8 are lagging well behind in the horsepower war.
Ford is expected to rectify the situation with the 2011 models, with reports indicating that a new V6 could offer up as much as 300-hp, while a new V8 could deliver 400-hp – with a displacement of 5.0-liters, no less! Expect news of six-speed transmissions as well. The other rumor is that the GT500 will get an aluminum block, helping it shed pounds and improve the car’s overall balance.
Ford won’t confirm or deny these reports but Ford’s global product boss Derrick Kuzak did tell the folks at Autoblog that all questions would be answered at the LA Auto Show in December. Also, when asked about the aluminum-block GT500, Kuzak said, “That’s a good thought.”
The engine updates are much needed for the Mustang to put it back on top. The car has suffered significantly in sales in 2009, being beaten out by the Camaro for three straight months. While the Mustang is quite capable, even with the less powerful engine, horsepower numbers sell cars. And if the Mustang can offer everything it has now, plus more power and (presumably with a six-speed transmission), better fuel economy, then there’s no reason to buy anything else.
AutoGuide’s live coverage of the LA Auto Show starts December 2nd.