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.
Ford is taking its engine downsizing strategy to extremes with the next-generation Fusion mid-size sedan, with plans to offer a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder version. That may sound unbelievably small, but the engine will get Ford’s EcoBoost technology with turbocharging and direct-injection and should deliver roughly 180-hp.
In addition, Ford will also offer a version of the 2.0-liter Ecoboost 4-cylinder that has just been introduced under the hood of the 2012 Explorer and 2012 Edge. In the Edge, that engine makes 247-hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, more than enough for any mid-size sedan.
In order to get the most fuel economy from this new model (which is expected to grow slightly from the current Fusion), the 2013 car is expected to get start-stop technology as well as grille shutters that close at speed to help improve aerodynamics.
Look for the 2013 Ford Fusion to bow at the Detroit Auto Show this January.
Ford has made a few changes for the 2012 Fusion. The American automaker decided based on low sales numbers that the six-speed manual transmission will only be available on the base Fusion S for 2012.
Fuel economy wasn’t much of an improvement with the manual transmission anyways. With a manual transmission, the Fusion was rated 22/32 mpg while the automatic six speed was rated at 23/33 mpg. There is a general trend currently, to eliminate manual transmission midsize sedans, with Mazda doing so with their ostensibly sporty Mazda6.
The other ‘major’ change for the 2012 Fusion are the 17-inch alloy wheels are now standard on the Fusion SE. In fact, Fusion SEs came with 17-inch steel wheels and plastic wheel covers, an odd choice given that the base Fusion S came with 16-inch alloy wheels.
Disregard the ads about the F-150 being the bestselling truck in 34 years: for only the second time in over a decade, Ford outsold crosstown rival GM overall, with 212, 295 vehicles, including some that aren’t pickups.
Ford last outsold GM in February of 2010, but only by 471 vehicles. This time, however, the margin was by 5,674 more vehicles. In 1998, GM fell to second thanks to a strike at supplier Delphi, which allowed Ford to beat them by 83,883 vehicles.
Many of those were fleet sales: a 29% increase there and a 50% increase in commercial sales. Crossovers saw the best increases by 30%, while cars like the Fusion increased 15%. The recently-released Fiesta reached 9,787 units sold, a 56% increase over the previous month. Ford is rather proud of these gains but would rather you not mention the 2% decrease in Lincoln sales, despite the manliness of spokesman John Slattery.
And maybe don’t disregard those F-150 ads just yet—despite crushing gas prices, most of Ford’s sales gains came from trucks, which increased by 21%. The more fuel-efficient V6 model made a bulk of these sales, in case you thought Americans had a propensity to act irrationally in the face of gas price fluctuations.
[Source: Automotive News]
NHTSA is beggining an investigation into the 2010 Ford Fusion, after recieving complaints of cracking wheel studs on the popular family sedan.
Over 280,000 vehicles may be affected by the problem. Wheel studs hold the wheel in place on the vehicle, and a failure could be catastrophic. Interestingly, NHTSA claimed that “Three complaint vehicles belong to the same 22-vehicle fleet but were assigned to different drivers who experienced the alleged defect on three separate occasions”, meaning the defect could be localized to a specific batch of cars.
NHTSA says that the vehicles in question all have fewer than 10,000 miles on them, and have never had the wheel studs or lug nuts serviced.
[Source: Automotive News]
There was a time when Ford cars regularly sold in excess of 200,000, units, heck the original Ford Taurus sold well over 300,000 per annum in the late ’80s. But times change.
Today, the best selling car in America struggles to sell 300,000 copies annually, but if anything, the T0yota Camry is consistent. It’s been the most popular car in the U.S. for years and with 296,581 delivered so far for 2010, it appears things aren’t likely to change soon. The Honda Accord is on track for the runner up spot with 253,073, while the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic follow, with 244,024 and 231,955 units sold during the same period.
And what have you noticed from these stats? That’s right, all these cars are Japanese brand vehicles, what about the homegrown stuff that used to top the sales charts for years? Well, in recent years the big three have lost market share, particularly in the mid-size and compact car segments, however, that might be set to change. The Ford Fusion, revamped for 2010, posted a 21.5 percent gain in sales for November, versus a year earlier, making it the first car from Dearborn to top the ‘magic’ 200,000 sales mark since 2004.
Ford, on average, has been selling around 10,000 Fusions per month during 2010 which isn’t too shabby these days. Winning Motor Trend‘s 2010 ‘Car of the Year’ honor certainly hasn’t hurt either.
[Source: Ward's Auto]
Green Car Journal has announced its candidates for its Green Car Of The Year award, with the five car field being composed of some pretty serious competition,
Naturally, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are the leading contenders, with the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid rounding out the field, and the Ford Fiesta being the sole nominee that runs solely on a gasoline engine and no electric components. Regardless, the Fiesta can still get 40 mpg on the highway, making it a worthy candidate.
The winner will be announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November
Hit the jump to see the official press release
[Source: Green Car Journal]
The Hyundai Sonata has officially bumped off the Nissan Altima to take 3rd place in the mid-size sedan sales race. The Sonata sold 21,399 units in August, closing in on the Honda Accord, which sold 22,506 units. The Toyota Camry enjoys a comfortable lead, selling just over 30,000 units in August. The figures exclude fleet and rental sales.
The Sonata has bested tough rivals like the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu. Buyers are apparently enticed by a strong warranty, low MSRP and generous equipment levels. About 75% of Sonata customers are “conquest buyers” who have traded in other brands for a Hyundai.
[Source: Detroit News]
As part of Ford’s latest Fiesta promotion, Ford is enlisting the help of NASCAR stars Richard Petty and A.J. Allmendinger as well as newly minted rally legend Ken Block.
The contest, called “43 Fiestas“, has Ford giving away 43 flat screen TVs, 43 ticket-and-hotel packages to the Ford NASCAR 400 Sprint Cup race and one specially prepared Ford Fiesta to a lucky winner. However, if Allmendinger wins the race, 43 Fiestas will be given away to all of the grand-prize contestants.
Ford has filmed two videos to promote the contest, and the “competition” video contains a predictable ending, and some poorly delivered lines by Petty. Remember to keep your prejudices in check when watching the video; Allmendinger, despite driving a NASCAR Fusion, has substantial open wheel experience in everything from a Formula Ford to a Champ Car. Block, on the other hand, is a glorified pay driver/marketing figurehead.
Hit the jump to see the official videos
The biggest changes are fuel economy related, with four-cylinder automatic transmission models now returning 23 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, bumps of 2 and 3 mpg respectively. V6 coupes with the automatic transmission get paddle shifters, and EX models get USB audio inputs and backup cameras on models equipped with navigation.
While recent Honda products have come under fire for having “lost their way”, the Accord has managed to weather the storm and deliver a quality product. However the Sonata threatens to unseat it by delivering an equally good package at a much lower price. The new upgrades should help the Accord withstand the product onslaught from the Koreans and Americans as well.
Gallery: 2011 Honda Accord
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Ford announced today that five of their vehicles have been selected as Top Safety Picks By The IIHS, boosting their total to 11 vehicles. The 2010 Ford Flex and Fusion, Lincoln MKZ and MKT and the Mercury Milan all scored the highest possible ratings in the IIHS’s front, side and rear impact tests as well as their roof strength test. The ratings mean that Ford now leads the industry in Top Safety Picks as well as government five-star crash ratings.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
The investigation involves 249,301 Fusion and Milan models from the 2010 model year where an accessory floor mat may entrap the accelerator pedal – in essence causing a sticking throttle. The problem occurs when the floor mat is placed on top of the existing carpet floor mat – something all automakers warn against. “We do not recommend stacking floor mats in any vehicle from any automaker,” said Ford spokesman Said Deep.
NHTSA commented in a statement that, “Any Ford ‘all weather’ optional floor mat should be placed in the driver’s side foot well only after first unfastening and removing the standard, carpeted floor mat.”
No accidents or injuries have been reported but NHTSA has said it received three complains – one of which came from Edmunds.com boss Dan Edmunds, who experienced the problem on a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Toyota recently recalled 5.4 million vehicles for what is essentially the very same issue – a hint that Ford could be facing a recall similar in scope. NHTSA has been on the war path recently, issuing a spate of new recalls and investigations based on fewer and fewer complains.
[Source: Detroit News]
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.”
Ford ended 2009 with its highest sales month since May 2008 while gaining its first year-end market share gain since 1995.
Sales were up in every product category in December 2009 as Ford recorded a 33 percent sales increase compared to the same month in 2008.
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales totaled 179,017 in December. Full-year sales totaled 1.62 million, down 15 percent, but Ford estimates it still managed to increase its U.S. market share by a percentage point to 15 percent, representing Ford’s first full-year market share gain since 1995.
“Ford’s plan is working,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing Sales and Service. “Customer consideration continues to grow for our high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles. In 2010, we will introduce an even higher number of new products, giving customers more reasons to Drive One.”
The Ford Fusion, recently named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, set a new full-year sales record at 180,671 units. Sales for the Ford Escape reached 173,044 units in 2009 for the crossover’s second-best year, including a 75 percent increase in December compared to 2008.
Ford’s F-Series truck had its best sales month since March 2008 with 48,209 units moving in December. The year-end tally of 413,625 units made the F-Series America’s best selling truck for the 33rd straight year, and top-selling vehicle, car or truck, for a 28th consecutive year.
Official release after the jump:
We still have more than half of 2009 to go and already the list of 2010 North American Car & Truck of the Year nominees have been picked. That’s because the list is essentially a list of every new model for 2010.
Nominated for car of the year are: the Audi S4, BMW Z4, BMW 335d, BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Fusion, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Mustang, For Mustang GT500, Ford Taurus, Ford Taurus SHO, Honda Insight, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Lexus HS250h, Lotus Evora, Mazda3, MazdaSpeed3, Mercedes E-Class, Nissan Cube, Nissan 370Z, Porsche Panamera, Subaru Legacy, Suzuki Kizashi, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Golf TDI.
The 2010 North American Truck of the Year list is only slightly shorter and includes: the Acura ZDX, BMw X5 xDrive 35d, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect, GMC Terrain, Honda Crosstour, Land Rover LR4, Lincoln MKT, Subaru Outback, Toyota 4Runner and Volvo XC60.
Many off these vehicles have yet to be officially released and some (like the Honda Crosstour) haven’t even been officially named yet.
Jurors will now begin the lengthy process of making a short list, with the final winners chosen at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Last year’s winners were the Hyundai Genesis and the Ford F-150.
Want to know where a car is made? Look at the VIN.
The All-American Impala: Made in Canada
During President Obama’s press conference last week when he announced that Chrylser would file for Chapter 11, he asked Americans that if they were looking to buy a car, to look at American cars. The “buy American” philosophy drew harsh criticism from the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA), which pointed out that buying American doesn’t necessarily mean buying a car from an American brand.
“AIADA objects to President Obama’s ‘buy American’ solution for the auto sector,” AIADA President Cody Lusk said in a statement. “In today’s globalized economy ‘buying American’ can mean anything from buying a Chevy Avalanche built by Mexican workers in Silao, Mexico to buying a Toyota Camry built by Americans in Georgetown, Kentucky.”
On that note, there is one way to tell exactly which country a car is manufactured in – the VIN number. That’s right, that odd 17-digit sequence of numbers and letters found on the dash under the windshield (and in numerous other places on a vehicle) holds the key to a vehicle’s country of origin.
Many VIN numbers, actually start with a letter. Those that start with a “J” are built in Japan and those with a “K” are from Korea. Most of the rest, however, aren’t so intuitive. VINs that start with a “W” are from Germany, while an “S” signifies England. Swedish cars get a “Y.”
The United States, Canada and Mexico all use a number system, with American-made cars using a VIN that starts with the number 1, while Canadian-made cars use a 2 and Mexican made cars use a 3.
The number of American vehicles made outside the U.S. is actually quite significant, while many “foreign” cars are built in American. In fact, one of America’s best-selling vehicles (and one that is also typically American) is actually built in Canada – the Chevy Impala.
Other made-in-Canada cars include the Buick Lacrosse, Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX, Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis and the new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
Made-in Mexico cars include the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Chevrolet HHR. And as for the the Chevy Aveo sub-compact, it comes from Korea.
On the flip-side, there are plenty of Japanese (and even some German) vehicles built in the U.S. of A. Some of the most significant include the high volume Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, while the Honda Element and Toyota Avalon are also U.S. products. Nissan builds several models in the United States while BMW manufactures the Z4 as well as the X5 and X6 in South Carolina.
… The more you know…
[Source: La Times]