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UAW turns to Ford after GM workers ratify new contract

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  October 25, 2019

DETROIT — The UAW will focus negotiations on Ford Motor Co. after hourly members at General Motors ratified a four-year labor pact that includes significant wage gains and bonuses, ending a 40-day national strike that has idled plants in three countries. 

"As America’s No. 1 producer of vehicles and largest employer of UAW-represented autoworkers, we look forward to reaching a fair agreement that helps Ford enhance its competitiveness and preserve and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs," Ford said in a statement. 

A union spokesman said negotiations with Ford will begin immediately.

UAW negotiators have reported some progress in talks with both Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, though they had to wait until GM was finished before discussing most major economic issues because the union aims to use the first deal it reaches as the framework for the other two.

The UAW's final numbers show that 56 percent of GM production workers and 66 percent of skilled-trades employees voted in favor of the deal. 

“General Motors members have spoken,” Terry Dittes, vice president of the union’s UAW-GM Department, said in a statement. “We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Their sacrifice and courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification that has plagued working class Americans."

A simple majority of workers within each group was required to secure ratification.

“We delivered a contract that recognizes our employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company, with a strong wage and benefit package and additional investment and job growth in our U.S. operations,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “GM is proud to provide good-paying jobs to tens of thousands of employees in America and to grow our substantial investment in the U.S. As one team, we can move forward and stay focused on our priorities of safety and building high-quality cars, trucks and crossovers for our customers.”

The union's council of local leaders from GM plants and warehouses across the country agreed last week to continue the strike until the tentative deal was ratified. The union said employees will begin to return to work as instructed by GM. Members of UAW Local 598, representing Flint Assembly in Michigan, had been told to prepare to work Saturday.

In the deal, GM committed to investing $7.7 billion in its U.S. plants to create or retain about 9,000 jobs. The total amount of investment through 2023 could reach $9 billion, including $1.3 billion to start battery-cell production near Lordstown, Ohio, through a joint venture.

The automaker won the ability to close three plants, including Lordstown Assembly, but has pledged to give Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, which was slated for closure in January, new life building electric trucks and vans though a $3 billion investment.

The pact also calls for shuttering a training center jointly run by the UAW and GM. The UAW's GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles training centers have been at the center of an ongoing federal corruption probe that has resulted in guilty pleas by 10 former union and automaker officials. A current UAW regional director also has been charged and is on leave from his job as a result.

The deal includes a pathway for temporary workers to become full-time employees and will bring all current full-time workers to a top wage rate of $32.32 by the end of the four years.

Full-time workers receive a $11,000 ratification bonus, while temporary workers get $4,500. The first of two 4 percent lump-sum bonuses in the deal also is scheduled to be paid next month.

It took roughly five weeks of intense bargaining after the start of the strike for the two sides to come to an agreement. Talks were at times heated, with both sides exchanging public statements accusing the other of playing games and stalling the process. GM CEO Mary Barra stepped in at one point to help break the impasse.

The ratification vote, held over the past week, exposed a divide among members. Many who voted no were upset the union wasn't able to save the closed plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland and that the deal did not include promises to return any production from Mexico.

Videos of informational meetings at local union halls posted to social media showed workers voicing displeasure over the deal.

A small group of employees with a parts subsidiary, General Motors Components Holdings, voted heavily against the deal, angered it didn't offer more job security or bring them to even wages with their GM counterparts.

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Ford recalls Transits for second driveshaft fix

Automotive News  /  October 29, 2019

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. issued three safety recalls Tuesday in North America, including 319,000 Ford Transit vans to replace crack-prone driveshaft couplings that were the subject of a 2017 recall.

Ford said it's not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the problem but that flexible couplings installed under the June 2017 recall can crack, creating vibrations that can cause the driveshaft to separate with continued driving. That can result in a loss of power or unintended vehicle movement while in park, as well as damage to adjacent brake and fuel lines, Ford said.

The automaker said it plans to swap the flexible couplings for mechanical U-joints, but until the necessary repair parts are available it's telling dealers to install a new coupling every 40,000 miles.

The recall covers 293,558 Transits in the U.S., 22,960 in Canada and 2,744 in Mexico from the 2015-17 model years.

Ford also announced two smaller recalls Tuesday: 431 2019 Edges for incorrectly crimped seat-belt pretensioner anchors and 18 2019 Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators due to a rear toe link fastener that was not properly tightened during assembly.

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Ford, UAW reach tentative contract agreement with $6 billion in investment

Automotive News  /  October 30, 2019

Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers union said they reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday on a new four-year labor pact that covers the automaker's approximately 55,000 unionized employees.

The proposed deal includes more than $6 billion in investment and would create or retain more than 8,500 jobs, the UAW said.

Union leaders from Ford plants around the U.S. will meet Friday in Detroit to review the deal, according to a union spokesman. They will decide whether to recommend it to the membership for ratification.

"Ford can confirm the UAW's announcement that the UAW and Ford have reached a proposed tentative agreement on a four-year contract," Bill Dirksen, Ford's vice president of labor affairs, said in a statement Wednesday evening. "Further details will be provided at a later date."

UAW-Ford Vice President Rory Gamble said in a statement: "Our negotiating team worked diligently during the General Motors strike to maintain productive negotiations with Ford. The pattern bargaining strategy has been a very effective approach for UAW and its members to secure economic gains around salary, benefits and secured over $6 billion in major product investments in American facilities, creating and retaining over 8,500 jobs for our communities."

The Ford-UAW agreement likely will mirror the pact approved by General Motors Co. workers after a 40-day strike.

The GM contract has a mix of pay raises and lump-sum checks, a quicker path to full wages for new hires and assurances that temporary workers can become full time. It also includes $7.7 billion in investments at U.S. factories.

UAW Vice President Rory Gamble, the chief negotiator with Ford, said bargainers were talking during the GM strike.

The union's "pattern bargaining strategy" won unspecified salary and benefits gains with Ford and secured over $6 billion in product investments in American facilities, Gamble said in a statement. The investments will create or keep over 8,500 jobs, but no precise number of new jobs was given.

On Friday, the day GM workers approved their contract, the UAW picked Ford as its second company to bargain with. While it began in earnest Monday, bargaining had been going on since last summer.

If Ford workers approve the contract, bargaining will then focus on Fiat Chrysler, which may not be as open to granting the terms of the GM contract.

Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group are expected to announce a merger agreement on Thursday, which could complicate FCA US LLC contract talks.

The GM deal also includes an $11,000 signing bonus and scraps a cap on annual profit sharing based on the company's North American pretax income. But GM got the ability to close three U.S. factories including a large assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

GM did agree to build an electric vehicle battery cell factory in the Lordstown area, but it won't employ anywhere near the 4,500 who worked in Lordstown just two years ago. Also, the battery plant will be run by a joint venture that won't pay as much as the $30 per hour now made by assembly plant workers.

Analysts have said Ford may be less likely to agree to a signing bonus as large as GM's, and it may want to trim some engine and transmission factory capacity. The company may also have been reluctant to agree to paying new hires full wages within four years as GM did. Ford has about 18,500 workers hired after 2007 who would get big pay raises, compared with GM's 17,000.

The GM deal would be expensive for Fiat Chrysler because it has more than 20,000 union employees hired after 2007.

The GM deal also didn't change the top-notch health insurance that the company provides for workers. Union workers pay about 3 percent of their health care costs compared to around 30 percent for most U.S. employees. Going into the talks, Ford had wanted to trim health care and other labor costs so they were closer to costs at U.S. factories run by foreign automakers.

Ford's total labor costs including benefits are $61 per hour, compared with the average foreign automaker plant's costs of about $50 per hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank.

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Ford to reveal Bronco in spring 2020; updated logo unveiled

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  November 1, 2019

DETROIT — It's been 1,028 days since Ford Motor Co. announced the return of the Bronco SUV.

More than two and a half years later, the vehicle finally has a logo — and a release date, albeit a vague one.

Ford on Friday said that the long-awaited off-roader will debut in spring 2020. The company gave no other details, but the vehicle isn't expected to go on sale until late 2020 as a 2021 model-year vehicle.

It's likely the automaker could reveal the Bronco around the time of the 2020 Detroit auto show, scheduled for early June. The press dates are technically in the spring; summer starts June 20th.

Ford on Friday also revealed an updated bucking horse logo and wordmark in a teaser video that showed the Bronco's evolution through the years. The logo and wordmark are slightly different from what Ford showed when it confirmed plans for the Bronco at the 2017 Detroit auto show.

The automaker plans to build both two- and four-door versions of the Bronco. It's designed to be customizable, with a removable hard top and removable doors that can be stored in the vehicle's cargo area, according to those who have seen it. The side mirrors will be attached to the front pillars so they remain in place when the doors are taken off, unlike the Jeep Wrangler — one of the chief rivals Ford is targeting with its Bronco revival.

Ford also is planning a Bronco-based pickup, according to forecasting firm AutoForecast Solutions, as well as a smaller off-roader and a small, unibody pickup to be part of an off-road family of vehicles.

The Bronco will be built at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant, alongside the Ranger.



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Ford's electric crossover to join Mustang family with Mach-E name

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  November 14, 2019

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.'s new long-range electric crossover is not just inspired by the Mustang; it's joining the stable.

The automaker on Thursday said the vehicle will be called the Mustang Mach-E, making it the first crossover to wear the galloping horse badge in the iconic pony car's 55-year history. Ford plans to reveal the Mach E on Sunday night, ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Ford said it will begin accepting $500 refundable reservations starting after the reveal ends, around 9:30 p.m. Eastern. The deposit will allow customers to configure their vehicle and reserve their spot in line for when the crossover goes on sale next year.

Ford plans to have actor Idris Elba introduce the Mach-E after last week announcing him as a spokesman.

Ford has made a deliberate decision to focus on performance with its next wave of EVs after its early foray into electrification produced now-discontinued vehicles such as the Focus Electric and C-Max plug-in hybrid that were known more for their fuel economy than driving capability.

Speaking about the Mach-E at this year's Crain's Detroit Business Newsmaker of the Year luncheon, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said it "is going to go like hell," a callback to the automaker's motto when racing at Le Mans.

"When we first started talking about electrification," Ford said, "there was this thought that there had to be a trade-off: It was either going to be green and boring and no fun, or really exciting but burn a lot of fossil fuels. Electrification has come to the point that you can do both."


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Ford recalls more than 135,000 F-150 pickups

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  November 14, 2019

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said it's recalling America's best-selling vehicle for an improperly secured part that could lead to the engine stalling or a loss of braking or steering assist.

The automaker on Thursday said it is calling back more than 135,000 F-150 pickups in the U.S. from 2019-2020 for a positive battery-terminal fastener. In addition to the mechanical issues, the company said the defect could increase the risk of a potential fire.

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

Affected vehicles were built at the automaker's Dearborn Truck Plant between July 15 to Oct. 1 this year, and at its Kansas City Assembly Plant from June 24 to Oct. 1.

Another 30,073 trucks are being recalled in Canada along with 2,257 in Mexico.

Separately, Ford is calling back more than 86,000 F-series Super Duty pickups in the U.S. from 2018-2019 with LED headlamps that are controlled with an incorrectly configured body control module. Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. Another 14,079 vehicles are impacted in Canada.

The pickups were built at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville between May 1, 2017, and Oct. 8, 2019.

MKX recall

Ford also issued a recall for more than 54,000 Lincoln MKX crossovers from 2016-2017 with 3.7-liter engines that have faulty battery cable harnesses. If the cable harness comes in contact with the transmission shifter cable bracket, it could short and increase the risk of a fire. Another 5,253 vehicles are being recalled in Canada.

Ford said it is aware of three vehicle fires potentially related to the issue, but no accidents or injuries.

The vehicles were built at Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant in Canada between Nov. 12, 2014, and Sept. 11, 2017.

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Ford documents GT Le Mans victory over Ferrari ahead of new movie

Sarah Kominek, Automotive News  /  November 15, 2019

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., to mark the premiere of the film Ford v Ferrari on Friday, Nov. 15, is unearthing archives on the Ford GT program and the victory at the 1966 Le Mans race.

Ted Ryan, Ford's archives and heritage brand manager, said the movie is giving the company an opportunity to celebrate the team of engineers behind the project.

"Ferrari had 30 years of racing experience," Ryan said. "Ford beat them on the third try having zero experience."

Longtime Ford Chairman Henry Ford II's rivalry with Ferrari began in 1963 when a contract giving majority control of the famed Italian automaker to Ford was left unsigned by Ferrari officials in May, canceling the deal. (Enzo Ferrari sold half of the company to Fiat in 1968.)

Ford began the GT program one month later in June 1963, giving the automaker just a year to design and manufacture a car that could compete for 24 hours in the 1964 race.

The first car to race, the GT40 Mark I, was designed and built "on a crushed timetable" by Ford Advanced Vehicles in England, Ryan said. "There was so much wrong with it.

"It was kind of underpowered, and Ford did not at the time have a lot of the technology or know-how to make some of the parts, so we purchased aftermarket parts," he said. "We just weren't ready."

The 1965 race was a different story, Ryan said.

Shelby American and Holman-Moody teamed up with Ford to fit a new 427-cubic-inch engine in the GT body, he said.

"That engine helped Ford just dominate NASCAR during the same time period," Ryan said. "Endurance racing is all about aerodynamics, endurance, speed and power. It has to be a balance of all of them."

But, Ryan said, the team was too late, testing the engine with the body in March 1965.

"They worked frantically between March and June to try to get the car ready," he said. "It was fast but not aerodynamically efficient."

The media buildup to the '65 race placed tremendous pressure on Ford and its engineers, Ryan said. "It escalated the attention, and Ford not only failed but did so spectacularly," he said.

The second failure prompted the automaker to form a committee, which met monthly in Dearborn, Mich., dedicated to success in the 1966 Le Mans.

Instead of engineering a new vehicle, Ryan said, they worked with the guts of the 1965 car to create the 1966 Mark II.

"They did the smart thing and perfected the car," he said. "The results were the famed 1-2-3 finish."

Ryan said the pressure on the Ford team in 1966 was exponential, with Henry Ford II to drop the green flag at the start of Le Mans that year.

Ford sent a handwritten note to all the engineers working on the project with a simple message: "You better win!"

Mose Nolan, a Ford engineer in the pits at the Le Mans race in 1966, told Fox 2 Detroit last week that he received one of those cards.

"At the win, I got this shot of adrenaline," Nolan said.

"Thankfully for Mose Nolan and the rest of the engineers, the hard work they had all done paid off," Ryan said. "Winning an endurance race like that is a combination of engineering, artistry and imagination."

"Ford couldn't have won without Shelby or Holman and Moody, and they couldn't have won without Ford," he said.

Ford won in 1967, 1968 and 1969 but dropped out of Le Mans because of a change in engineering priorities, Ryan said, until 2016, when it won the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance professional-class race with the No. 68 Ford GT.

Ryan said he's excited that the film will bring widespread attention to the people who worked toward Ford's victory.

The win also came at a time when Ford's engineering and product development teams had other key priorities.

"Our engineers rose to the occasion," he said. "At the same time, Ford delivered the Mustang, the Bronco and built Mission Control in Houston, Texas, because it was the lead contractor on the space program."


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Workers ratify UAW-Ford contract with 56% in favor

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  November 15, 2019

DETROIT — Roughly 55,000 UAW members at Ford Motor Co. on Friday ratified a new four-year labor contract that allows the automaker to close a Michigan engine plant but provides for raises, thousands of new jobs and more than $6 billion in U.S. manufacturing investment.

With a Ford deal in hand, union officials can now move on to Fiat Chrysler, the last of the Detroit 3 to finalize a contract this year.

The UAW said the deal passed with a 56.3 percent margin. 

“Every Ford employee and temporary employee will be at the top-rate for full-time status at the end of this four-year agreement,” Acting UAW President Rory Gamble, who is Director of the UAW Ford Department, said in a statement. “This is a life changing contract for many and provides a template for all future Ford UAW members to a full-time, top-rate status. There will be no more permanent temporary situations and no more permanent tiers.”

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president, Automotive, said in a statement: “We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement quickly with the UAW without a  costly disruption to production. This deal  helps Ford enhance our competitiveness and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs.

"Working  with the UAW, we have added flexibility to our operations while keeping labor costs in line with projected U.S. manufacturing labor inflation costs and still rewarded our workers for their important contributions to the company."

Ford said it will take a $700 million charge in the fourth quarter related to the new agreement, mostly due to the ratification bonus.

Chicago Assembly and Lima Engine, in Ohio, were the only two plants to vote against it heading into the final day of voting. The deal was passing by a comfortable 62 percent margin earlier Friday according to Automotive News estimates.

But workers at Ford’s largest local, representing more than 12,000 workers at Kentucky Truck and Louisville Assembly, late Friday rejected the pact. Roughly 67 percent workers voted against it, while 51 percent of skilled trades workers there voted for it. An exact breakdown was not immediately available. 

Ford’s deal largely resembled GM’s in terms of broad economics, including two 3 percent raises for workers and two 4 percent lump-sum bonuses.

The first of those bonuses, worth about $2,700 for an average production worker, will be paid within weeks. Full-time Ford workers also will receive a $9,000 ratification bonus, while temporary employees will get $3,500.

The deal includes a pathway for temporary workers to become full time and also shortens the time it takes for newly hired full-time workers to earn top wages.

Ford said it would create or retain 8,500 jobs over the life of the contract but did not provide a breakdown. Of the $6 billion investment, a majority goes to Ford’s assembly plants. That includes $700 million at Dearborn Truck in Michigan for the next-generation F-150 — including a hybrid version, a battery-electric version and a new Raptor — as well as $1.1 billion at Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Mich., and $900 million at Ohio Assembly, which will get a new undisclosed product in 2023.

Bloomberg reported that the Avon Lake, Ohio, plant would get electric vehicle production previously slated for Flat Rock Assembly in Michigan.

The deal allows Ford to close its Romeo Engine Plant east of Detroit, but workers there will have the opportunity to move to the nearby Van Dyke Transmission Plant.

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Romeo Engine Plant north of Detroit will build batteries for VW-Ford future product, was built for Ford Tractor years ago. Van Dyke Plant (Sterling Hts.) needs help. Henry Ford II - "You better win!" Ford could use some of that today ( a bunch of that ).

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It's going to be very interesting to see what goes on at Avon Lake in the next few years.

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Ford is not building any cars anymore? Mach-E, 4 door Mustang?  

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Bill Ford didn't want to call Mach-E a Mustang — until he drove it

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  November 19, 2019

LOS ANGELES — In order to call the Mach-E electric crossover a Mustang, Ford Motor Co.'s Team Edison needed the approval of one of the most passionate pony-car enthusiasts around: Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

Ford allegedly owns 35 Mustangs. If the electric-vehicle team wanted to make it 36, they needed his OK.

It wasn't an easy process.

"I certainly wasn't sold at the beginning — far from it," Ford said on the sidelines of the vehicle's reveal Sunday night. "They came to me and said, 'We really think we can make this Mustang-inspired, really Mustang-like.' I said, 'You guys aren't telling me you want to call this a Mustang.' No one would say yes, but nobody would say no, either. I said, 'No, I'm sorry, I don't want to hurt the brand. This is not going to be a Mustang.' "

But the team was persistent. They knew they needed the cachet of the name to woo uncertain buyers to an EV and believed they could achieve the necessary performance figures to earn the iconic badge.

Top meeting

Jim Farley, Ford's president of new businesses, technology and strategy, who spearheaded the project, told Automotive News that nerves were high during the meeting, which he described as "one of the top few" important discussions he's been part of at Ford.

"Bill came in the room, we had all the information, we had a really open discussion with him," Farley said. "We had to prove to him it has all the substance of a Mustang."

The crux of the team's argument was that it could get 332 hp and 417 pound-feet of torque from the base version of the five-seater, with a faster 0 to 60 mph time than the base Porsche Macan. The GT performance edition would boast 459 hp, 612 pound-feet of torque and a 0 to 60 time comparable to that of a Porsche 911 GTS.

That intrigued Ford, but he needed a lap in a prototype to seal the deal.

'This is a Mustang'

"When I drove it, I knew it had to be a Mustang," Ford said. "Frankly, I was getting there before because I believed the team when they were laying all the specs out. As it evolved and I started to see the performance characteristics, not just the 0 to 60, but the handling dynamics, the driving dynamics and the styling kept evolving, at some point I realized: Yeah, this is a Mustang. The pony could go on the grille."

Farley said Ford's decision let the team move forward with the project, which was under a condensed time frame because the company had scrapped the vehicle's original design.

"He's a smart guy," Farley said. "Driving is believing. After he got out it was double thumbs-up."

Bill Ford plans to order the first Mach-E, joking Sunday night that actor and Mach-E spokesman Idris Elba would have to be second in line for the crossover, which goes on sale late next year.

"It doesn't replace the Mustang car I love," Ford said. "It's an addition to the family, and it's a really important one."

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That thing looks like a generic Mazda.  Hope the 'E' doesn't end up standing for Edsel.......

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23 hours ago, RoadwayR said:

That thing looks like a generic Mazda.  Hope the 'E' doesn't end up standing for Edsel.......

The Edsel was ugly. You think the Mach E is ugly? 

The Edsel was a Fairlane in the lower series or a Mercury in the higher series with no significant mechanical differentiation other than a push button automatic shift controller.  Mach E is a powerful electric.

Then again-perhaps you are correct-if electrics are a flash in the pan.

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I think from a performance standpoint the Mach-E should be phenomenal.  The styling does nothing for me.  Looks like a Tesla Model X without the gull-wing doors and Mustang hood, taillights and emblems.  

BEV's are not a flash in the pan!


Edited by RoadwayR

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I suspect that electrics will carve out a market share but never take over the market, as they can't compete on functionalities like price and range. But if everyone bought cars for functionality we'd all be driving front wheel drive econoboxes, vans, or work trucks. 20% of the U.S. market is older suburbanites who buy 4x4 pickups that never venture beyond the malls and haul no more than the odd Costco lootings or garden bits from the big box home store. Electric vehicles will probably build a similar irrational slice of the market of folks who want to be seen as environmentalists.

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Hackett in it for long haul to steer Ford turnaround

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  December 2, 2019

DETROIT — Jim Hackett has been CEO of Ford Motor Co. for nearly as long as his predecessor, Mark Fields, held the job.

By some measures — Ford's languishing stock price, in particular — seemingly not much has changed from Fields' regime. But from Hackett's perspective, virtually everything has.

And at a stage when his predecessor was under growing pressure from Wall Street and the board of directors, Hackett is digging in for a longer-term stay.

"I see a dramatic improvement in the business," Hackett said in an interview last week at Ford's headquarters. "When I came in, it was my observation that it had been frozen a little bit, like caught in amber. Everything that was great about it was frozen. ... Ford needed to break the amber and start to transform."

Hackett points to changes that have touched on "almost every aspect" of the business, from what vehicles Ford builds to how it designs them. He has revamped the company's organizational structure, cut excess manufacturing costs and instituted other structural changes he says are "not always obvious" to Wall Street analysts. There have been 19 changes to Ford's product plan — nameplates either crossed out or inserted — since his arrival, he said.

Two and a half years in, Hackett finally can direct investors and employees to a sheet-metal embodiment of the philosophies he at times has struggled to convey: the Mustang Mach-E.

The electric crossover, set to reach dealerships late next year, is the first vehicle Hackett and his team could significantly influence. They scrapped plans for a compliance car to instead emphasize performance and design, later taking the controversial step of expanding the Mustang brand to help boost sales and profitability.

"We're hopeful the Mach-E is an exemplary story of the way we're trying to change Ford," Hackett told Automotive News. "It's an incredible turnaround in speed and quality and innovation, which is what we talked about 30 months ago that we want to bring to the company."

And it's a strategy Hackett plans to bring to other products — including the long-awaited Bronco and the next-generation F-150.

Next-gen F-150

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas last year suggested the F-150 might be worth more than the entire company, punctuating the pickup's importance to Ford's lineup as well as its balance sheet.

But it's facing more competition than ever.

Fiat Chrysler's Ram has surged to second place in U.S. sales, in part because of a lavish interior that has won customers from its rivals. And a host of new players are set to enter the market as soon as 2021 with electric pickups, including Tesla and Ford partner Rivian.

"The fitness of the kind of competition that comes at us gets better and better," Hackett said. "We can't stand on our laurels here, and we're not."

While the current-generation F-150 upended the industry with its use of an aluminum body, Hackett said the next-gen pickup will focus on connectivity. He didn't divulge timing, but it's expected to go on sale next year as a 2021 model.

"We take the advantages of [aluminum], and we now start to marry the intelligence — the emergence of the connectivity, the awareness of how people use the vehicles," he said. "The intensity of understanding what people do in our F-150s has probably never been higher. We have to keep changing the product for them in ways that they care about."

That's likely to include the next-generation Sync infotainment system, which allows over-the-air software updates, that Ford showcased last month on the Mach-E. Like the Mach-E, the pickup is expected to get a much larger touch screen. The truck will also include a hybrid variant, which Ford says can double as a mobile generator.

While Ford also has plans for a fully electric pickup down the road, Hackett said the flexibility afforded by a hybrid could appeal to more customers.

"For certain jobs to be done, the gasoline engine and the diesel are better solutions," he said. "And so having that range of options for our customers is going to be a big advantage with that line."

‘So much to do'

After a 33-year career at furniture-maker Steelcase and a stint as interim athletic director at the University of Michigan, some assumed Hackett, who turned 64 in April, would essentially be a transitional leader for Ford. He was on Ford's board when the body decided to oust Fields, and Executive Chairman Bill Ford abruptly asked Hackett to step in.

Hackett, who initially didn't want the job but accepted after talking it over with family, said he never viewed it as a short-term move.

"When you're the CEO of a company, you don't look at your job in 12-month increments or anything like that," he said. "You actually go out much further than that, because the emotional commitment, the physical commitment, the relationship commitment is long enough that you've got to put that date way out there and then you work back."

Still on his to-do list?

In addition to launching the Mach-E, Bronco, F-150 and a spate of other products, he still hopes to convince Wall Street that his methods really have changed the culture at Ford. Ford shares have fallen 18 percent during Hackett's tenure, and Moody's Investor Service recently downgraded Ford's credit rating to junk status.

"I feel like I can still help in ways the transformation requires," he said. "When Bill and I sat down and made this decision ... we just said, 'What's it gonna take to get this turned around?' And we put ourselves out here, and we're working our way through it. I don't get up any day thinking that date's nearer because I still have so much to do."

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Ford recalls 262,000 pickup trucks with defective tailgate latches

Associated Press  /  December 6, 2019

Ford is recalling nearly 262,000 trucks in the U.S. and Canada because the tailgates can open unexpectedly.

The recall covers F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks from the 2017 through 2019 model years. All the trucks have electric tailgate latch release switches in the tailgate handle.

Ford says water can get into the electrical wiring and cause a short circuit, activating the switches and releasing the latches. That could allow loose cargo to fall onto the road.

Ford says it has no reports of crashes or injuries. Trucks with mechanical tailgate latches are not affected.

Dealers will fix the tailgate frame wiring harnesses and install a new tailgate handle release switch. Owners will be notified by male during the week of January 20.

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262,000 pickup trucks driven by people that never get there hands dirty working.

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Ford recalls more than 500,000 Super Duty pickups for risk of interior fire

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  December 13, 2019

Ford on Friday issued a recall for more than half a million 2017-19 Super Duty SuperCrew pickups in the U.S. with a faulty seat belt pretensioner that could spark the interior carpet and cause a fire if the vehicle crashes.

Ford claims it is aware of one report of a fire in the U.S. related to this issue, although it's not aware of any accidents or injuries.

Ford said 490,574 pickups are affected in the U.S. and federal territories, while 56,112 are in Canada and 852 are in Mexico. The vehicles were built at its Kentucky Truck Plant from Oct. 8, 2015, to Oct. 29, 2019.

"As needed, dealers will apply foil tape to the carpet and carpet insulation and modify the sound deadener on the back side of the B-pillar trim panel," Ford said.

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Ford to add 3,000 jobs at two Mich. plants

Michael Martinez, Automotive News  /  December 17, 2019

Ford Motor Co. plans to add 3,000 jobs at two assembly plants in southeastern Michigan, the automaker said Tuesday.

Ford told state economic development officials that it will invest nearly $1.5 billion in the Michigan Assembly and Dearborn Truck plants for the upcoming Bronco SUV, electrified versions of the F-150 pickup and a modification center that will convert hybrids into autonomous vehicles.

"This would be the first center of its kind for the company and is expected to drive synergies with its existing AV research functions in Dearborn and Detroit," the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which approved Ford's requests for about $35.3 million in incentives, said in a memo explaining the projects.

Ford's new contract with the UAW, ratified in November, alluded to the assembly plant renovations, though it wasn't known how many jobs would result. The incentive request said employment at Michigan Assembly would double, to about 5,400 workers, while Dearborn Truck would add about 300 jobs.

Ford told the state it would spend $767 million at Michigan Assembly to install machinery and equipment for the Bronco launch and a Ranger/Bronco modification center in 2020. It indicated that more upfitting equipment likely would be added in 2021 and 2022.

At Dearborn Truck, Ford said it would spend invest $696 million in equipment and tooling to support production of hybrid and electric F-150s. The company said it also plans to build battery cells for the F-150 in Dearborn and make additional investments in stamping and powertrain production for the electrified pickups.

"The UAW is proud of Ford’s commitment to manufacturing in the United States and in Michigan,” UAW President Rory Gamble said in a statement. “This is a direct result of the 2019 collective bargaining process, providing additional jobs – and job security – for UAW members in Southeast Michigan.”

The incentives approved Tuesday include $26 million of the remaining $31.6 million in the Good Jobs for Michigan tax capture program, which goes away at the end of this month. It's the same program that awarded Fiat Chrysler Automobiles up to $105 million for creating 6,350 jobs at an assembly plant being built in Detroit and other area plants being expanded.

At the same time, the state said Ford has agreed to give up $12 million in previously approved incentives for expansions at its Romeo Engine and Flat Rock Assembly plants that did not happen as planned. Ford is closing Romeo Engine under its UAW contract and shifted 650 jobs from Flat Rock to other plants when it eliminated one of two daily production shifts this year.

Ford in May said it planned to put an AV production center somewhere in the Detroit area, altering previous plans to build the facility near Flat Rock. 

The state said Ford "could locate its AV modification center closer to where the base vehicle is being manufactured in Mexico, where labor costs are lower, but is looking to focus its advanced technology capabilities here in Michigan."

The automaker remains on track to launch self-driving vehicles for commercial use in 2021. Ford envisions using the yet-to-be revealed hybrids to deliver packages, groceries and other goods.

The automaker is testing AV deployment in Miami; Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C., through partner Argo AI.

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This new "Modification Center" sounds interesting- Being this is for Broncos and Rangers I doubt this is for commercial uplifts. Perhaps Ford is seeing all the thousands of dollars many Jeep owners are spending on fancy wheels and other poser mods and want a share of that market?

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2020 Ford Super Duty plow package boasts best-in-class rating

Trailer-Body Builders  /  January 10, 2020

The 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty will tackle winter’s worst weather with the heaviest snow plow rating in the segment, Ford says. With the available Snow Plow Prep Package, Super Duty features a maximum 1,400-pound snow plow rating accounting for mounting hardware, which is best-in-class for gasoline-powered trucks in the segment1, and maximum 1,290 pounds which is also best-in-class for the diesel segment2.

“Super Duty is a real workhorse in the snow removal industry,” said Mike Pruitt, Ford F-Series Super Duty chief engineer. “With our new Snow Plow Prep Package, we’re really delivering for folks who clear the way after a big storm. Being able to safely hook up bigger plows means roads, driveways and parking lots are cleared quickly and drivers can move on to the next job.”

The new Snow Plow Prep Package, available for 4x4 pickups, includes heavy-duty springs specific to each configuration and an up-rated alternator to deal with heavy electrical loads.

According to a study conducted by the Snow and Ice Management Association and Wolfworx/Singer Consulting, clearing the white stuff is an $18 billion industry in the US, one growing at a rate of about 3% annually. It’s comprised of more than 22,000 commercial contractors and more than 75,000 sole proprietors. The 2019 SIMA survey data indicates F-Series is the overwhelming choice, with nearly 50% of market share in an industry that values reliability, service network and, of course, rated plow weight, according to Ford.

Owners will also appreciate other new features such as a windshield wiper de-icer, which pre-heats the windshield under the wipers to keep blades free of ice, as well as available heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats. Optional white or amber LED strobe lights on XL, XLT or Lariat series trucks take a step out of the upfitting process. Deep Snow/Sand drive mode is available on models equipped with the all-new 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift automatic transmission. The special drive mode changes throttle mapping and traction control settings to allow for added control and greater confidence in snowy or slick conditions.

Plow operators can rely on the quality and craftsmanship of a high-strength steel boxed frame and high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body that provide a sturdy backbone, Ford adds. Customers have a choice of engines, including a standard 6.2-liter gas V8, an available all-new 7.3-liter gas V8 with best-in-class 430 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque and an available third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 with best-in-class2 475 horsepower and 1,050 lb.-ft. of torque.

Ford F-Series Super Duty is built at Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, and Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, OH. Trucks are shipping to dealers now.

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