AutoGuide News Blog
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.
American automaker Ford has committed to increasing the fuel economy of its U.S. model lineup 20-percent by the year 2020. The Blue Oval is hoping to achieve this through electric vehicles, hybrids, and improvements to gasoline-powered vehicles.
The recently released Ford Focus EV is rated at 105-MPGe, making it the country’s most efficient five-passenger vehicle. And even though electric vehicle sales will just be a small portion of Ford’s overall sales in the year 2020, the technology from them will help improve Ford’s hybrid and gasoline-powered models.
Currently Ford is adding an automatic start/stop system to its Fusion models later this year and is contemplating a new hybrid system. In addition, Ford has already announced that it plans on expanding its EcoBoost engine lineup. But powertrain improvements won’t be the only thing on Ford’s plate to make fuel efficiency improvements, the American automaker is also looking to shave weight across their models – up to 700 lbs in some.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
The 2012 Women’s World Car of the Year short list has just been announced, and women motoring writers from around the world will begin voting for their top picks.
Cutting a list of contenders from 300 down to 32, judges will now allocate points to the nominated cars that fall into four categories: Family Car, Luxury Car, Sports Car and Economy Car. Just one of the 10 criteria that cars are allotting points for is Child Friendliness, which is something vehicles aren’t usually judged on in a competition.
Winners of the 2012 Women’s World Car of the Year will be announced before the end of March, and awards will be presented at the Paris Motor Show in September. You can check out the complete short list after below.
A few weeks ago, American automaker Ford confirmed that it would be equipping the Focus Titanium model with a manual transmission option in addition to its S and SE trim models. Ford now believes that the manual-equipped Focuses will account for nearly 10-percent of its sales.
Even though the Focus is only getting a five-speed manual option, as opposed to the more popular six-speeds seen today, Ford’s estimation of sales continues to climb from its initial 4.5-percent figure. Today, Ford believes that demand has risen to about 6.7-percent and projects that it will hit 10-percent now that the Titanium will be offered in a manual.
Prior to this, the Ford Focus Titanium was only available with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Whittled down from all the cars in the world, a group of 66 automotive journalists from across the globe have released their top 10 picks for the 2012 World Car of the Year and World Performance Car.
That list, which will be further narrowed this month, is initially selected by secret ballot and then submitted for re-evaluation by the panel.
Members then have a chance to rate each car based on overall merit, value, safety, environmental responsibility, emotional appeal, and significance. The top three are then scheduled to be announced March 6 at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show during a press conference.
The 2011 World Car of the Year was the Nissan Leaf, while the World Performance Car was the Ferrari 458 Italia. What we’re most curious about this year is the fact that the Porsche 911 made it into both categories.
The 2012 World Performance Car finalists are:
- Audi RS 3 Sportback
- BMW 1 Series M Coupé
- BMW M5
- Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
- Ferrari FF
- Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
- McLaren MP4-12C
- Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG
- Mercedes-Benz C-63 Coupe AMG Black Series
- Porsche 911
The 2012 World Car of the Year finalists are:
- Audi A6 Sedan / Avant
- Audi Q3
- BMW 1 Series
- BMW 3 Series
- Chevrolet Volt / Opel/Vauxhall Ampera
- Citroen DS5
- Ford Focus
- Land Rover Evoque
- Porsche 911
- Volkswagen Up!
Be sure to tune in for our coverage of the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, where we’ll be bringing you the latest. Also, let us know what you think of both lists in the comments section below.
Forbes has reported that almost one-third of the more than two million vehicles Ford sold in America last year went to fleet buyers, which could be a cause of concern for the American automaker.
While it would appear that it could only be a positive thing that Ford is heavily favored among rental and commercial fleets, it has its downsides as well. For one, fleet operators purchase their vehicles in bulk and normally hold on to them for only a year or two. As a result, huge discounts are given from the manufacturers and the market becomes flooded with used vehicles after a couple of years, reducing residual values.
But the upside is that rental fleets help increase brand and product awareness with potential consumers that normally would never look at that vehicle to begin with. At the same time, a rental car that’s been poorly taken care of could leave a negative impression about a vehicle’s brand.
Ford is likely to be concerned about its fleet sales though, especially as 45-percent of its Focus production is heading to fleet inventories while the car struggles in the retail market. The next few years will be important to Ford, as General Motors and Chrysler continue to improve with great vehicles and larger profits while Japanese automakers Nissan, Honda and Toyota begin to bounce back.
Those heading to the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and/or the 2012 Detroit Auto Show may want to recycle their plastic bottles while at the convention center. Ford and Unifi will be collecting plastic water bottles constructed of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from the two shows and will recycle them to make the Repreve seating material found in the EV.
Repreve is a mixture of post-industrial fiber waste and post-consumer waste such as the PET plastic water bottles. Apparently each Ford Focus Electric will use about 22 plastic bottles in its interior and Ford and Unifi hopes to help divert 2 million plastic bottles from landfills. According to Ford, right now, the Focus EV is approximately 90-percent recyclable, but they’re working on making that 100-percent.
Ford‘s track-ready Focus ST-R isn’t cheap at $98,995, but it sure comes with plenty of punch as a turn-key race car powered by a 2.0L EcoBoost powerplant. To show off what the hot hatch is all about, Ford Racing and Andy Vrenko took it to its natural habitat – the race track.
The video does a great job highlighting the various features of the race car while blending in clips of it on the track. We also get a great in-depth look at the interior of the ST-R, showing off its Recaro seats and FIA-spec roll cage.
The ST-R is eligible to race in various racing series including Grand Am ST Class, World Challenge ST Class, Canadian Touring Car, as well as European endurance racing events, such as the Nurburgring 24.
GALLERY: Ford Focus ST-R
Watch the video below:
For decades, we’ve known Ford crate engines to be huge V8 powerplants packing plenty of cubic inches and power. But Ford has been quietly offering a 2.0L inline-four from its old Focus for midget racers but very few even paid attention to that option.
Now Ford has added their new-generation 2.0L Focus engine and looks to add an EcoBoost variant in the future. Ford announced a pair of new V8 crate motors for 2012, adding a 347 pushrod motor based on the historic Boss 302 block. With 363-cubic inches, it packs 500-hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. The other new crate engine is a 427-cubic inch powerplant and is based on Ford’s Boss 351 engine block. With Ford Racing’s X-heads system, it makes 500-hp and 520 lb-ft of torque.
But the new addition of the 2.0L inline-four from the Focus is what’s making headlines, with its 160-hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. The naturally aspirated engine will be complemented by EcoBoost offerings which means turbocharged power for all. The 2.0L EcoBoost for example in the new Explorer makes 240-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque which suddenly becomes a very appealing engine for small race cars to mid-sized boats.
Unfortunately Ford hasn’t announced availability on the EcoBoost crate engines.
[Source: Automobile Mag]
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito stepped up and assumed responsibility for the Honda Civic’s miserable start in the United States, telling Automotive News that ”The ultimate responsibility rests with me.”
The Civic was left off the Consumer Reports list of recommended vehicles, a rarity for any Honda product. Cheap interior materials were blamed, and many reviewers reported dull styling and driving dynamics as other disappointments. Civic sales are down 15 percent this year, and Honda product planners are hoping for a model refresh as soon as 2013, well ahead of Honda’s usual vehicle schedule.
While Honda decided to stick with a smaller footprint and reduced content for the new Civic (betting on a downward economy) competitors like Hyundai, Chevrolet and Ford went in the opposite direction, offering advanced features like backup cameras, self-parking, powerful engines and bold styling. This approach won out in the end, with the Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus reporting strong sales in the segment.
[Source: Automotive News]
Grammar sticklers will be disappointed that the headline is not actually a typo – we were just so captivated by the Ford Focus ST, spotted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in this fetching shade of blue that we felt it would be a dereliction of duty if we didn’t mention it.
Although the Focus ST has been on the show circuit for about a year now, the car is still a bit away from launch. Specs include Ford’s 2.0L Ecoboost motor displacing 247 horsepower and 260 lb-ft, with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual clutch gearbox, along with ATE brakes and some wild-hued sports seats. A Sony headunit that looked like it was ready for the much-loathed MyFordTouch infotainment system was also spotted.
So far, we’ve only seen the Focus ST in the papaya-like orange, but this blue, reminiscent of the Escort Cosworth and 1st generation Focus RS, has us seriously infatuated. How much longer must we wait?
Gallery: Ford Focus ST
To say that Ford put a focus on the Focus would be an understatement at this year’s SEMA Show. Nine different, fully customized Focuses were shown off in the Ford booth, with several of them part of a spectator voting competition. Projects ranged from mild to wild, with a plethora of colors being splashed on each creation.
Our personal favorite of the bunch was the Focus by the ID Agency, sporting a custom BASF green paint job with a Wraptivo roof wrap. Ford also leant a helping hand with their official Ford Licensed Accessories bike rack by Thule, adding to the versatility of the new Focus SE 5-Door. The Downforce carbon fiber lip kit was a nice and subtle touch, while we just loved the choice of bolting on 19×8.5-inch HRE Performance C90 wheels. Under the hood, the ID Agency outfitted the 2.0L Ti-VCT four-cylinder with an AEM cold air intake and MagnaFlow cat-back exhaust. A Brembo big brake kit was paired with KW Variant 3 coilovers to give this Focus plenty of braking and handling improvements – not to mention how great it looks. On the inside, Recaro Sportster seats can be found along with custom interior by Top Stitch and a Kicker car audio system by BP Auto Sound.
With so many Focuses to focus on, we decided to make a life easier to taking a photo of each of the information plaques by each car. Feast your eyes on the creations from Bojix Design, ID Agency, 3dCarbon, Capaldi Racing, ROUSH Performance, Steeda, Hot Wheels, Metal Mulish/Rockstar, and M&J Enterprises and let Autoguide know which was your favorite.
GALLERY: Bojix Design Ford Focus
GALLERY: ID Agency Ford Focus
GALLERY: 3dCarbon Ford Focus
GALLERY: Capaldi Racing Ford Focus
GALLERY: ROUSH Performance Ford Focus
GALLERY: Steeda Ford Focus
GALLERY: Hot Wheels Ford Focus
GALLERY: Metal Mulisha/Rockstar Ford Focus
GALLERY: M&J Enterprises Ford Focus
While AutoGuide got its first glimpse of the Ford Focus ST at the 2010 Paris Auto Show last September, this was our first chance to take a good look at the car without security guards and PR staff circling like birds of prey.
We know so far that the Focus ST will have Ford’s 2.0L Ecoboost motor displacing 247 horsepower and 260 lb-ft, with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual clutch gearbox, along with ATE brakes and some very supportive technicolor sports seats. Peeking inside also revealed a Sony headunit that looked like it was ready for the much-loathed MyFordTouch infotainment system.
Check out AutoGuide’s coverage of the 2011 SEMA Show here
Gallery: Ford Focus ST
Are you getting excited for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas? It’s less then two weeks away, and to get you a fan-frenzied mood, Ford has begun to tease us with its bespoke designs.
From subdued to outrageous and brand-spanking new to ancient, Ford will be showing off a little something of everything at the show, but taking the spotlight with be a few customized Fiesta and Focus models.
Sure to draw attention from the crowd are seven Focus hatchback and sedan models that boast customization by 3dCarbon, ROUSH Performance Products, The ID Agency, Capaldi Racing, Steeda, Bojix Design, and COBB Tuning. With such prominent names, you can expect to see some radical performance and styling modifications to these cars.
“Millennials, which this car is all about, want to personalize every aspect of their lives – everything from laptop covers to body art, and even cars,” said Mike Murphy, Ford C-Car Marketing manager. “Being unique allows them to stand apart and be different, and all the Focus models we have on display at SEMA live up to that standard.”
On the Fiesta side, there will be three customized models, courtesy of M2-Motoring, Gold Coast Automotive and Aaron Vaccar.
Expect to hear more from Ford about what it is bringing to the table at the SEMA show this week, including an all-new 363-cubic-inch Ford Racing stroker engine and a Ford licensed restoration part for the classic ’64-65 Mustang.
GALLERY: Ford Focus and Fiesta SEMA Show Cars
Ford may begin building electric cars in China via joint ventures with Chinese auto makers, replicating the tactics of rivals like General Motors and Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz. China is looking to add 1 million EVs by 2015 as part of an effort to curb emissions and the dependence on fossil fuels.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally was in China for the groundbreaking of a new engine assembly plant with local partner Changan Automobile Group, part of a $1.6 billion effort to build four new factories in China. Mulally expects China to play a key part in boosting Ford sales by 50 percent by 2015, and Ford’s Lincoln brand may become part of that strategy, as Chinese demand for luxury cars is rapidly growing.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Ford fans, start your engines! Ford’s new TV series, Octane Academy, is coming to FUEL TV and its adrenaline-pumping challenges will get your motor revving.
This 13-episode original television series follows driving contestants of Octane Academy as they are put through the paces of a series of challenges while staying at four action sports camps. There will be three episodes for each of the camps and will begin airing in early 2012 on FUEL TV.
“We’re really excited to bring Ford’s Octane Academy to life in an exciting show that will feature quick cuts, comic relief and risk-taking scenarios that take both the pro drivers and everyday Joes out of their comfort zones in the name of entertainment,” said Peter Vesey, FUEL TV Vice President, Advertising Sales.
You can start watching Ford’s Octane Academy this November, which starts with the first camp hosted by Brian Deegan. Taking up the challenge of the academy will be 32 ultimate fans who get the chance to be behind the wheel of a sports car. These lucky contestants will be paired up with famous Ford action sports drivers, including Brian Deegan, Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Vaughn Gittin Jr. They’ll get to test out their driving skills using the F-150 SVT Raptor, Mustang and the Focus.
The race to get into Ford’s Octane Academy started this July and garnered more than 6,000 applications and 850 video submissions. The racing hopefuls had to explain why they have what it takes to survive a weekend of on- and off-road challenges. Out of those applicants, only 32 were picked to compete in the four camps that will be hosted over the course of the year. Eight contestants participate in each camp and have to battle it out with a battery of challenges and dares over one long weekend. Each of the Ford action sports drivers get to design their ultimate playground for the contestants, and give them a crash course in how to master the road while testing their attitudes, athleticism and audacity. Drivers who stand out move ahead and pick up prizes, and the overall winner of each camp will be awarded a new Ford vehicle of their choice.
The 2012 Ford Focus will get a 1.0L 3-Cylinder Ecoboost engine, but it will only be offered in the North American market. Ford says that the motor will make 118 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque at just 1300 rpm.
An overboost feature will provide short bursts of up to 147 lb-ft of torque, while the flywheel and front pulley are designed to reduce vibrations without the need for a balance shaft. Ford says that the engine will also be used on the European C-Max van and the B-Max crossover.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Ford is giving racing enthusiasts a new Focus race car option with their ST-R that debuted at Frankfurt Motor Show. The Focus ST-R race car will feature a powerful 2.0L EcoBoost engine, FIA regulation roll cage, upgraded brakes and track-tuned suspension.
The race-tweaked, production-based ST-R was crafted by the engineers at Ford Racing and will be allowed to compete in a variety of racing series including Grand-Am ST, World Challenge TC and Canadian Touring Car Series. Ford also hopes that teams will pick up the ST-R and use it at notable race events such as the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
Initially created for American and Canadian touring car racing, the ST-R is available for order from Ford dealers in North America for all race car enthusiasts from seasoned veterans to weekend amateurs.
Because the Focus ST-R is a production-based road race car, it features stock body panels and production parts where possible,” added Allison. “People who buy one will get will get a fully prepared race car that will only need communications equipment and the customer’s decals to go racing. We’ve already had significant interest in this vehicle from numerous established race teams.”
No pricing was announced from Ford’s official press release.
GALLERY: Ford Focus ST-R Race Car
For the European market, the thought of another high performance Ford Focus has become banal, but North America is eagerly awaiting the launch of the first “Euro” hot hatch variant of the Focus, with the upcoming Ford Focus ST.
The original Focus SVT was based on a European model called the Focus ST170, but the new Focus ST marks the first time that there will be a single unified Focus performance model – with one exception. A Focus ST “wagon” (shown above) will be sold in world markets, but not North America.
With a 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder making 250 PS and 265 lb-ft of torque, the Focus ST relies on an electronic torque-steer management system to put power down through a 6-speed manual gearbox via the front wheels. Big brakes and Recaro seats on offer, as are a specially tuned chassis, 18″ wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires with an asymmetric tread pattern. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for live shots of the Ford Focus ST starting on Tuesday, September 13th as coverage of the Frankfurt AutoShow kicks off.
Ford will show a concept version of their l0ng-awaited Fiesta ST hot hatch at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. An ST version of the Focus hatchback has long been confirmed, and many correctly suspected that a hotter version of the smaller Fiesta would follow.
With the Focus making 250 horsepower from a 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder engine, the next logical step down is Ford’s 1.6L Ecoboost, with an output of around 180 horsepower. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for more info as coverage begins on Tuesday, September 13th.
However, Ford can only officially say that the 2012 Focus attains 40 mpg when equipped with the Super Fuel Economy package and six-speed automatic transmission. Ford is eager to prove that the Focus is more fuel efficient regardless or its options, so the American automaker organized a media drive in Romeo, Michigan.
Ford invited reporters to drive the Elantra at a steady 45 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile track. Then the reporters drove a Focus without the SFE package and lapped the track at the same speed. Conditions were equal for both cars and an engineer sat in the backseat, monitoring the fuel economy. The results showed that the average fuel economy of the Focus was 40.4 mpg and the Elantra achieved 37.8 mpg. This proves that the Focus is more efficient at a steady 45 mph than the Elantra.
[Source: Automotive News]
Summer is almost over, which means back to school shopping. Forget about pens, pencils and binders; what about picking up a new set of wheels? Surely that will make the thought of heading back to class a little better!
Kelley Blue Book has put together a list of vehicles that it believes will appeal to kids. There are some odd choices though.
The new car picks all seem to be decent, all are affordable, efficient and attractive. However the used choices are surprising. The Kia Sedona probably won’t be very appealing to students because well, minivans are not cool. As well, the F-150 is a pretty large truck and although it is the best selling vehicle in America, it’s hardly fuel efficient. The HHR was also an interesting choice because not many young people drive them. The new vehicles are probably better choices overall, but who knows, maybe minivans are secretly cool among teenagers… or maybe just teenagers trying really hard to be ironic. What do you think?
Check out the list of new and used vehicles after the jump:
Electric cars not green enough for you? How about a solar powered car? Ford will be working with SunPower, an established solar provider, to build a solar energy system for the Focus electric vehicle that goes on sale later this year.
Solar panels will be mounted on the car owner’s house or garage, to power the vehicle. The panels won’t directly charge the electric car’s battery but will provide power to the house at a rate sufficient enough to offset nearly 1,000 miles of driving a month in the Focus.
The solar power option will allow for green electricity, rather than traditional electricity from a house, which is often made by burning fossil fuels at power plants. The 2.5-kilowatt system will produce about 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The power will be generated by 147 square feet of roof panels (11 panels that are 4 feet by 2 feet). The solar power option will be offered through Ford dealers for about $10,000 after federal tax credits. The Best Buy Geek Squad will work with Ford to install home chargers at the customers house, after the purchase.
Ford has yet to announce the price of the 2012 Focus electric, but the first vehicles go on sale in California and New York later this year.
With 305 turbocharged horsepower the Focus RS might just have been the ultimate hot-hatch. Now, for the first time, Ford has confirmed it will have a successor, arriving in late 2013 or early 2014 with at least 350-hp while sticking to its front-wheel-drive strategy.
Gunnar Hermann, Ford’s global chief of small cars, has gone on the record stating that the new Focus RS could create more power than even the limited edition RS500 model, which produced 350-hp from the turbocharged 5-cylinder engine borrowed from Volvo. It’s unlikely Ford will continue to use the Volvo-sourced engine and according to Herrmann engineers are working on extracting more power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that will power the Focus ST, which is set to make 247-hp.
According to Herrmann the new Focus RS will continue to be a front-drive model and will use a similar suspension setup to the previous model, which allowed for such a high amount of power to be effectively transmitted through the front wheels.
Now only one question remains: will this Focus RS finally make it to our shores?
[Source: Sydney Morning Herald]
Color choice tends to be an extremely personal subject when it comes to purchasing a car, and with 40% of respondents stating that they’d walk out of a dealer if they couldn’t get a car in their hue of choice, Ford is hard at work at the next generation of paint schemes.
Ford engineers tend to have a 3-year timetable when it comes to choosing new colors, and the company is already trying to determine what will be popular in the coming years. The 2000′s saw white and grey as popular shades, but Ford is betting on vibrant colors like Ruby Red and a “Candy Blue” as being among the next big hits. A Ford press release states that the next big things will be “complex metallics, tinted clearcoats, tri-coats and neutrals.”
Vehicles like the Focus and Fiesta, with their range of bright blues, lime greens and magentas should provide a clue as to the company’s future direction. But research still shows that white, blue, grey and silver are the most popular colors, with silver being the global favorite.