Ford Market News

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Trump has his own problems to deal with, and his problems are far worse than Ford's.

Ford, like many automakers, has too many platforms. They need to rationalize along these lines:

1.7 meter wide platform: Hyper economy and low price cars like the Fiesta for Asia and emerging markets

1.8 meter wide platform: Focus and Escape/Kuga/C-Max

1.9 meter wide platform: Taurus/Explorer

2.0 meter wide platform: rear/all wheel drive full size car/crossover/new Ranchero

Each platform would be designed for 2WD and AWD powertrains with conventional, hybrid, and electric power and hatchback, sedan, wagon, pickup, van, and SUV variants.

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Ford hatching Ranger Raptor variant

Automotive News  /  June 27, 2017

Ford Motor Co. is hatching plans for a Raptor performance variant of the forthcoming Ranger midsize pickup.

Spy photos of a camouflaged Ranger on Ford's test track in Dearborn, Mich., show a more aggressive front end than what's shown in spy shots of the standard Ranger.

The latest photos also show what appear to be large fender flares, a hallmark of the F-150 Raptor.

It's unclear what engines the Ranger will feature, but they could include the 2.7-liter EcoBoost found in the F-150.

The Ranger's engine is expected to be paired with Ford's new 10-speed transmission, which the automaker is rolling out across its lineup.

Ford, in a statement, said it does not comment on future product or camouflaged vehicles in spy photos.

In January at the Detroit auto show, the automaker announced plans to revive the Ranger, with production of the 2019 model beginning late next year at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. It will compete against the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma.

Ford last sold the Ranger in the U.S. in 2012, but it continues to build and sell it globally.

Photo gallery - http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=CA&Date=20170626&Category=PHOTOS01&ArtNo=626009992&Ref=PH&Profile=1200


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Ford issues recall for 402,000 vans, will take $142 million charge

Automotive News  /  June 28, 2017

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday issued three recalls in North America, led by a callback of 402,462 Transit vans that will cost the company $142 million.

The automaker said the affected vans have a faulty driveshaft flexible coupling. The defect could lead to the separation of the driveshaft, which could result in a loss of power, unintended vehicle movement and damage to brake and fuel lines.

Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the Transit issue.

Ford disclosed the cost of the recall in a Wednesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The charge will be incurred in the second quarter results of the North American unit. The company is due to report second-quarter earnings on July 26.

The affected 2015-17 model-year vehicles were built at Kansas City Assembly Plant between Jan. 17, 2014, and June 15, 2017.

Ford said the issue will not affect Transits with fewer than 30,000 miles on them, or vans that have had a driveshaft or driveshaft flexible coupling replaced within the last 30,000 miles.

For vehicles with more than 30,000 miles, Ford said the interim repair will consist of replacing the driveshaft flexible coupling every 30,000 miles until the final repair is available and completed. Owners will be notified by mail.

In addition, Ford said it's recalling four 2017 model-year Police Interceptor utilities to repair second-row seat attachment studs, as well as three 2016 model-year Escapes with faulty driver knee airbag modules.

Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries with either issue, and will replace the affected parts for free.



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Does ford assume all costs or does the supplier have to stand behind their parts? 

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11 hours ago, Dirtymilkman said:

Does ford assume all costs or does the supplier have to stand behind their parts? 

It depends. For example, if it's a Ford design flaw and the supplier produced the component according to the design drawing, then Ford is responsible.

This example is yet another case in a long list at Ford where they took a proven Ford global market product, reconfigured it for the US market, and created problems where there were none. I can tell tell you that the Transit in the global market is a trouble-free vehicle.

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Given the magnitude of this one-as well as KSC's comment on trouble free nature of the  euro version, would be interesting to see who the vendor was-and to take it one step further, where were the materials sourced.

As I'm pounding away on a piece of granite step with my  3 lb sledge and chisels that came out of my father's 80 year old leather tool bag, sure am glad there was no question where this steel came from!

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2004 Bronco concept hits street -- sort of

Automotive News  /  July 3, 2017

Ford Motor Co.'s 2004 Bronco concept is finally hitting the streets — sort of.

The SUV, unveiled at the 2004 Detroit auto show, will be seen in the upcoming movie Rampage, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The wrestler-turned-actor recently posted an Instagram photo that featured the Bronco in a scene from the movie, which is based on the 1980s arcade game of the same name.

The Rock is a spokesman for Ford's service centers and earlier this year helped unveil the freshened 2018 Mustang, but the automaker quickly pointed out that the concept's cameo wasn't a tease of what the new Bronco — due in 2020 — will look like.

"The Ford Bronco seen in Dwayne Johnson's upcoming movie, 'Rampage,' is the 2004 Bronco concept," a Ford spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "It does not represent the future Bronco beyond sharing the iconic Bronco name."


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FORD: Lower fleet sales drive June down 5%

Automotive News  /  July 3, 2017

Ford Motor Co.'s June sales fell 5 percent as fleet sales declined.

The automaker's sales to daily rental companies fell 2.4 percentage points to 13 percent of its overall U.S. light-vehicle sales, as companies such as Avis and Hertz take a more cautionary approach amid a plateauing market. Sales to commercial businesses dropped 0.6 percentage points of overall volume and sales to government agencies fell 0.5 percentage points.

Total fleet volume fell 14 percent, Ford said. Fleet volume represented a third of Ford's U.S. sales in June.

Ford has said the fluctuations in its fleet business -- those sales increased 8.4 percent in May -- is timing-related, and are tough comparisons to last year, when most of its fleet orders were front-loaded. The automaker still plans to finish the year with about the same fleet sales as 2016.

Ford's retail sales were flat -- off just 36 vehicles -- compared with last year.

The company was again driven by pickup/van and SUV/crossover sales, up 1.4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. Car sales plummeted 23 percent. Through the first six months of the year, Ford sold more SUVs/crossovers than it ever has.

"Customers drove a record 406,464 Ford brand SUV sales in the first half of this year," Mark LaNeve, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. "F-series continues expanding its sales and share this year, with customers opting for high-series pickups and investing in class-exclusive features that only Ford trucks offer."

Ford's F-series sales rose 9.8 percent last month, as average transaction prices rose $3,100 to $45,600. It was Ford's fourth month in a row selling over 70,000 pickups.

Ford's SUV/crossover sales were driven by the Explorer, up 19 percent, and the Edge, up 20 percent. Ford blamed a 6.4 percent decline in Escape sales on fleet orders. Escape retail sales rose 5 percent and Ford is shortening its summer shutdown at its Escape plant in Kentucky because it expects continued strong demand.

Sales of Ford's Lincoln luxury brand rose 5.3 percent; it was the brand's 17th consecutive month of retail sales gains.

MKC sales increased 16 percent, and Lincoln's car sales were again propped up by sales of the new Continental, with 973 deliveries.

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A factory in flux

Automotive News  /  July 17, 2017

Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant tracks the industry's shifting winds

DETROIT — After nearly 20 years working on the line at Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Assembly Plant, Bob Wieck is used to change.

The 39-year-old started at the site in 1999, and during his career — which included a brief stint at the Dearborn Truck Plant — he has switched from building cars to trucks to cars and, next year, back to trucks.

Wieck had been making Ford’s unibody Focus sedan at the Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant when, in 2009, the automaker decided to close it, consolidate production at neighboring Michigan Truck and rename the site Michigan Assembly. The state-of-the-art factory would build gasoline, electric and hybrid small cars after a $550 million renovation using a government loan. Wieck was moved to Dearborn Truck for about a year during the conversion, but returned to renovated Michigan Assembly in 2011.

He said initially workers were worried and confused over the closure and transition, but were ultimately excited that Ford dedicated major resources to adding C-Max hybrids and increasing Focus output.

“That was huge,” he said. “We knew we had at least another 10 years.”

Not quite. 

Less than a decade later — after production cuts and layoffs — Ford is abandoning that investment, sinking about $850 million into Michigan Assembly to convert it back to a body-on-frame truck and SUV plant, this time for the Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV.

Although Michigan Assembly is Ford’s second-biggest plant in the United States and contributes billions to the state’s economy, the automaker can’t seem to settle on a role for the plant. Twice in about seven years, Ford has significantly changed its product plan for the site — a process that has cost billions in construction, new machinery and worker retraining.

“In many respects, the whole site there is really a sign of the times of what has happened the last 10-plus years in the industry,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, said in an interview. “It’s a reminder of what changes.”

Stalling workflow for weeks at a time to gut the interior of a plant is inefficient, especially for a company whose founder preached the benefits of interchangeable parts to achieve maximum productivity.

But analysts say such costly decisions are neither uncommon nor avoid-able.

Consumer preferences have changed drastically since the turn of the century: Buyers who once scooped up gas-guzzling utility vehicles traded them in for economically sensible sedans as gasoline prices spiked, only to return to larger vehicles as the economy rebounded and oil prices fell.

Automakers, meanwhile, are forced to respond to the whims of the buying public with product plans that are often set four or five years in advance. For instance, Fiat Chrysler is preparing to convert its Toledo North Assembly plant in Ohio from making unibody Jeep Cherokees to body-on-frame Wranglers.

“They have to react to what the future market conditions are expected to be,” Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in an interview. “Any time you’re trying to hit a mark several years into the future, it’s hard to know.”

Plant history

Ford’s 60-year-old Michigan Assembly Plant is a case study in how automakers adapt to changing market demands.

The factory opened in 1957 as the Michigan Station Wagon Plant building MercuryColonyPark wagons. The previous decade, demand for such vehicles spiked 760 percent as American families expanded and began taking long road trips.

Seven years later, in 1964, Ford retooled the site to build F-100 pickups and renamed it the Michigan Truck Plant. A year later, it produced the first-ever Bronco SUV. Nine years after that, Ford put in an 18,000-square-foot expansion as part of $1.1 billion in worldwide capital expenditures.

Bronco production ended in 1996, and the next year Michigan Truck started churning out Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators, two massive family haulers that helped define the large SUV segment. In 2005 Ford added a flexible body shop.

But as gasoline prices surpassed $4 a gallon, demand for small cars skyrocketed. At the time, Ford was building its Focus small sedan at the Wayne Assembly Plant, next to Michigan Truck.

“In 2008, I was running manufacturing and having conversations around how in the world can we make more Focus vehicles?” Hinrichs said. “We were out of capacity at Wayne. One of the ideas was to leverage Michigan Truck next door to increase our total Focus capacity.”

Ford decided to move the Expedition and Navigator to Kentucky, and retool, consolidate and update Michigan Truck, renaming it Michigan Assembly.

It was an extensive project — and Ford turned to the government to help pay for it. In 2009, it received a $5.9 billion loan from the Obama administration’s Department of Energy for the creation of fuel-efficient vehicles and technology. Ford used a portion of that loan — $550 million — to transform Michigan Truck into a small-car plant that could build gasoline, electric and hybrid vehicles on the same line.

At the time, it was Ford’s most flexible plant, capable of building vehicles of varying sizes with different powertrains.

Plant leaders went through three weeks of training as they switched from building body-on-frame trucks and SUVs to unibody Focus and C-Max cars.

During the revamped plant’s first week of production, Ford combined its two-shift crew into one, overlapping start times so employees could work out any early kinks together.

Shift in demand

Michigan Assembly was successful, at least early on, with the small cars.

According to a 2013 study by CAR, the site at the time supported more than 48,000 jobs nationally, including 24,000 in Michigan. The plant’s annual contribution to the gross domestic product then was $3 billion in Michigan and more than $5.7 billion nationally.

Ford built more than 850,000 vehicles during the first three full years of production, according to the AutomotiveNewsDataCenter. But output has fallen every year since 2013, and the same factors that prompted its creation ultimately became the plant’s undoing.

“At that time, gas prices had been relatively high, so demand for small cars was there,” Dziczek said. “Now it’s not.”

Slumping sales led to extended downtime at the plant, making for an awkward encounter in January 2015 when President Barack Obama came to the site to hold a rally touting the resurgent American auto industry. Because the assembly lines were temporarily shut down and workers had been sent home, Ford had to rely on employees coming in on their day off to form a crowd.

Months after the president’s visit, Ford decided to lay off about 700 workers, eliminating a third shift that it had added a few years earlier.

In 2015, Ford announced it would move the Focus out of Michigan Assembly to a low-cost location in 2018, but that no jobs would be lost because it would replace production with two yet-unnamed vehicles, which turned out to be the Ranger and Bronco.

Ford later said it would move Focus production to China, and has yet to announce plans for the C-Max, which many expect will be killed. The about-face signaled the end of the government-funded renovation after just seven years.

“Was it a bad investment? From the government’s perspective, it was a loan that’s being paid back,” Dziczek said “I think it secured a future for the plant so it could live on to get this new investment now.”

A Ford spokeswoman said that the automaker has paid back $3 billion of the $5.9 billion federal loan, and is on track to complete repayment in 2022.

'Not ideal'

The last Focus and C-Max are to roll off the line at Michigan Assembly in mid-2018.

Ford has said it expects a four-week changeover, a process that it has perfected thanks to its 2014 overhaul of the Dearborn Truck Plant to convert to aluminum-bodied pickup production.

Wieck said workers were told the changeover will last one to two months and that the company will keep some existing machinery. While workers likely will have to undergo another round of training to build the different vehicles, he doesn’t expect dramatic change.

“Working on the line is just a part of the puzzle,” he said. “There will probably be little adjustments, but I don’t think it will be huge.”

Wieck is excited about the massive transformation about to occur. He said despite the change, the plant’s future is likely more secure than before because it will be building vehicles that are more in demand.

Ford officials echo his optimism. Although car production didn’t last long, Hinrichs believes the past seven years have been beneficial to Ford’s understanding of hybrid and electric vehicle development.

“If you look at it over a long time period, we went from body-on-frame to unibody back to body-on-frame,” Hinrichs said. “That’s not ideal, but at the same time I think we’re ending up at a really good place: Focus production moving to a low-cost location, which has been needed for a long time, and two very important nameplates being brought to the showroom I know our dealers and a lot of customers are excited about.”

Archive photograph - Through the years, the plant has adapted to changes in the marketplace with products including Mercury station wagons in 1958, top; Ford pickups, the 100,000th of which rolled off the line in 1965, below; Ford and Lincoln SUVs and Ford Focus compact cars since 2011.


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Plant life: Factory timeline

Michigan Assembly

Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant has undergone a number of changes over the course of its 60-year history. Since opening in 1957, it has built everything from wagons and pickups to SUVs and sedans. Here are some of the plant's key moments. 1957 Plant opens: A 760% rise in Mercury station wagon sales from 1947 to 1956 sparked the establishment of the Michigan Station Wagon Plant.

19571964 Truck production:The first pickup -- a Ford F-100 -- rolls off the line of the newly renamed Michigan Truck Plant.


19651965 Historic milestones:2 milestones are reached: The plant builds its 100,000th truck and its first Ford Bronco.


19661966 Bronco boom:The SUV highlights the plant's lineup. Bronco output ends in 1996, a year before Expedition and Navigator production begins.


1974 Plant expansion:Michigan Truck Plant gets an 18,000-square-foot expansion as part of Ford's worldwide capital expenditure program totaling $1.1 billion.


19971997 SUV production:The plant begins producing the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, and continues through November 2008. A flexible body shop is added to the plant in 2005.


20102010-11 New Focus and EV:Renamed Michigan Assembly Plant, the factory undergoes an extensive physical transformation to ready for the production of the new Focus and a companion electric vehicle. Ford's electrification strategy entailed launching 4 new electric-powered vehicles by 2012.


2018 Plant conversion:The plant will undergo an $850 million renovation to build the Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV.

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Ford overhauls design with 2 key teams

Automotive News  /  July 21, 2017

Ford Motor Co. is shaking up its design team to shorten product development cycles and better define the group's overarching strategy.

The changes expand Ford's strategic design group to enable designers to work more collaboratively at a centralized location in Dearborn, Mich. Designers are grouped into two camps: one covering cars and crossovers, and another handling trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

The automaker is bringing Joel Piaskowski, director of Ford of Europe design, to the U.S. as global director of design overseeing cars and crossovers.

Chris Svensson, design director of the Americas, has been named global director of design overseeing trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

David Woodhouse, director of Lincoln design, has been named director of global strategic design in addition to his duties with Ford's luxury brand. In his new role, Woodhouse will oversee the expansion of Ford's global strategic design group.

Amko Leenarts will replace Piaskowski as director of Ford of Europe design.

In addition, Freeman Thomas, strategic design director based at Ford's advanced design studio in Irvine, Calif., will retire at year end. Thomas managed the company's advanced design studios in Dearborn, Irvine, London and Shanghai.

Moray Callum, Ford's vice president of design, said the changes are meant to enhance the team's thinking. He said the company will focus even more on consumer experiences through design-thinking and human-centric approaches.

One of Callum's biggest goals, he said, is to shorten product development times so that a new vehicle's final designs are set closer to when it goes on sale.

"If there's a strong strategy behind decisions, it makes decisions easier," he told Automotive News.

Ford has a number of new vehicles on the horizon, including the Bronco SUV, Ranger midsize pickup, an electric SUV and an autonomous vehicle.

Callum said as vehicles add self-driving capabilities, design becomes more important.

"I don't think design will ever matter less" than it does now, he said. "What we're communicating by our design is very important. We want people to trust the car and the brand and we need to communicate that in the exterior and interior design."

Over the last five years, Callum said, his team has nearly doubled in size. Ford will soon break ground on a new design center as part of a decadelong transformation of its Dearborn campus.

Callum said the changes to the design team were in the works before CEO Jim Hackett took over in May, but that it fits in seamlessly with his desire to transform the company.

Callum said, "We see him as a great supporter of design overall."

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