Ford – The Auto Blog for Car Enthusiasts Thu, 18 Jan 2018 23:51:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 8746165 2019 Ford Ranger Showcased In Detroit Mon, 15 Jan 2018 22:44:49 +0000 Hey, the Ford Ranger is back, and it wants to bring midsize truck buyers a new choice that’s tough, modern, and dripping with driver-assist technologies. Right off the bat, this seems like a smart move by Ford with demand increasing for midsize trucks. Since 2014, sales are up 83 percent and the new Ranger is set to carve out a chunk of that growth for itself.

Packages & Technology

The 2019 Ford Ranger ticks all the boxes with a new exterior design, chassis, and powertrain. High-strength steel frame, check. 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, check. Ford’s trick 10-speed automatic transmission, check. And there is a wide range of trim levels to choose from: the entry-level XL, mid-level XLT, and high-level Lariat, with available Chrome and Sport appearance and FX Off-Road packages. The 2019 Ford Ranger will come in a SuperCab or SuperCrew configuration.

I know, that’s all pretty standard truck stuff, but the 2019 Ranger comes with all the tech modern buyers expect too. Ranger integrates advanced driver-assist technologies like Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, a Reverse Sensing System, and a Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage for XLT and Lariat trims.

The Ranger’s FX4 Off-Road Package also includes a Terrain Management System akin to the F-150 Raptor’s. The TMS has four distinct drive modes: normal, grass, gravel, and snow; mud and ruts; and sand. The TMS gizmo can shift on the fly to automatically change throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing, and vehicle controls to tailor traction, drivability, and performance. You should be able to handle any given terrain or weather condition, which sounds like a very nice and practical thing for a truck to do.

Debuting with the new Ranger’s FX4 Off-Road Package is Trail Control technology. It’s like cruise control for low-speed, rough terrain. Trail Control takes over acceleration and braking, delivering power and braking to each corner so you can focus on steering along the course.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Power & Performance

FoMoCo insists the Ranger is no parking mall poseur and is designed from the get-go to handle the rough stuff. The ground clearance is already plenty high, but if you opt for the FX4 Off-Road Package, the mud/dirt/gravel gets even easier to handle with off-road-tuned shocks, all-terrain tires, a heavy-gauge steel front bash plate mounted to the frame, and other frame-mounted skid plates. And, as one might expect, the 2019 Ranger will be motivated by the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Ford’s little four-banger has direct fuel injection, a twin-scroll turbocharger, a 16-valve head, forged-steel crankshaft and con rods, and chain-driven dual overhead cams.

Speaking of putting the power down, that all happens thanks to Dana AdvanTEK independent front and solid rear axles on both 2WD and 4WD models. There’s an available electronic-locking rear axle standard on FX2 and FX4. 4×4 models feature 2-high, 4-high, and 4-low configs on the gearbox.

Functional Design

The design of the Ranger is there to reinforce the truck’s practicality, and to withstand the stresses and strains of everyday life. The high beltline emphasizes strength, while the raked grille and windshield seek an athletic appearance, according to Ford. The overhangs are short and functional for the clearing of off-road obstacles, while the tailgate itself is beefed up to handle people and cargo. The steel bumper at the back has an available trailer hitch receiver so you can tow all your toys.

Ford says the interior of the new Ranger merges comfort and functionality with room for up to five people and all their stuff. The center stack of the dashboard includes an 8-inch touchscreen for the available SYNC 3 system. The instrument cluster has dual LCD “productivity” screens for real-time vehicle, navigation, and audio information.

All this adds up to the inevitable reality that Ford will sell these by the train-load, even though pricing has not been announced.

In Person

The 2019 Ford Ranger is on display at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center, downtown Detroit. The show officially opens to the public on Saturday, January 20th.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format

2019 Ford Ranger Gallery

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

Engine & Transmission Photos: Carl Anthony.

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2019 Ford Edge ST: The SUV Time Machine Sat, 13 Jan 2018 16:30:06 +0000 Throughout the year at Sioux Falls Ford, we received training on new vehicles before Ford released them. A specialist from Dearborn would arrive in the morning, with said vehicle, and put us sales guys through a day-long session of training and test driving. We learned everything about the forthcoming vehicle so we were prepared to answer any questions future customers might have.

Those were the good old days.

Showroom Shine

Looking back, a few vehicles from those training sessions really stood out: The 2010 Raptor with its suspension, the 2011 F-150 with its EcoBoost engines, and the 2010 Edge Sport with its 22-inch wheels. After training on the Edge that day, we held a public test drive event in the evening. Upper management invited many of our customers in for a chance to see and drive the Edge Sport. We took a few orders that night and enjoyed showing our customers this slick, new vehicle we received training on earlier in the day.

The next morning, I was on first shift, meaning I was usually at my desk by 7:45 before we opened at 8:00. As I was unpacking my things for the day, I glanced across the showroom and caught the morning sun bouncing off the Sport Blue Metallic paint and 22-inch chrome wheels. Since it was a demo vehicle for training, that particular Edge Sport was due to leave us, but for the time being, it was the perfect compliment to the Shelby Mustang sitting only a few feet away.

I get similar vibes from the 2019 Edge ST, Ford’s first SUV to be tuned by Ford Performance.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Power & Performance

The Edge ST features a specially-tuned 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, pumping out 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic Ford notes as “quick-shifting.” Toggle over to Sport Mode and the Edge ST is suddenly more aggressive, holding gears up to the redline and resonating the exhaust notes a little further. All-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension, and an available performance braking package give the Edge ST a little extra “edge” on the road.

Exterior Styling

Just like the 2010 Edge Sport, the 2019 Edge ST catches the eye with its mesh grille, side skirts, redesigned hood, and dual exhaust ports. To enhance curb appeal, 21-inch wheels are available, while LED headlamps are standard.

Interior Design

Edge ST drivers will enjoy seats that offer additional bolstering, especially on longer trips. The center console is redesigned and the rotary gearshift dial reduces clutter and frees up space. The wireless charging pad, built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, and Sync 3 are nice upgrades for those who like having the latest tech. Music lovers will enjoy the available 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Safety & Security

The Edge ST features an array of advanced safety systems, two of which really stand out. Post Collision Braking reduces the likelihood of secondary impacts by applying moderate brake pressure when an initial collision is detected. Evasive Steering Assist, designed to operate at city and highway speeds, uses radar and a camera to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles. Once detected, steering support is provided to help maneuver around a vehicle if a collision is imminent.

Manufacturing & Availability

The 2019 Ford Edge ST will be built at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Expect to see the Edge ST at Ford dealerships this summer.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Class-Action Lawsuit Targets Ford, Bosch For Diesel Emissions Violations Fri, 12 Jan 2018 03:12:31 +0000 Uh-oh, this could get really messy. Ford Motor Company and Bosch are being sued after being accused of conspiring to make diesel engines that cheat in order to comply with US market regulations. The class-action lawsuit is being brought on behalf of F-250 and F-350 owners, alleging both companies worked together to conceal the particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions of F-Series Super Duty diesels built between 2011 and 2017, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

The suit further alleges that engine software provided by Bosch allowed Ford to adjust engine parameters to reach optimum emissions during EPA testing. Once on the road in real life, the engines emittied over 50 times the legal limit of greenhouse gases and particulate matter. This could be a very big problem for both companies.

Similar Scenearios

The lawsuit, filed January 10th in the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Michigan, claims Ford’s performance, power, and towing capabilities for the Super Duty are only obtained by switching off or turning down emissions controls when the software senses the vehicle is not in an emissions-testing environment. By and large, this is pretty much the same thing that Volkswagen was caught doing. VW ended up on the wrong end of $30 billion worth of fines, according to the latest report from Reuters.

It is alleged that what Ford and Bosch did was also on that scale. On top of everything else, this news hits the streets just before the launch of a diesel-powered F-150 and with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit right around the corner.

Emission Controls

Curiously, this is not all a software-based cheat. For a variety of various engineering reasons (i.e. wanting to get more power and torque for its new range of diesel engines) Ford deviated from the typical exhaust layout. Normally, the exhaust for a modern diesel goes from the cylinders to a particulate filter, then to the catalyst and then, as a final stage, to a urea injection system to treat the exhaust before being vented out the tailpipe. In an effort to get more power, Ford fiddles with the order. The dirty exhaust gas went through the catalyst first, then through the particulate filter and then it got the urea injection treatment.

All that is well and good, except that after going through the catalyst, the plaintiffs and their lawyers say Ford outright bypassed the particulate filter and dumped the undercooked particulate gunk straight out the tailpipe, and into the air we breath.

“Ford also deceived consumers in calling its diesel Super Duty trucks “fuel efficient,” and that without manipulating its software to turn off emissions controls, Ford could not have achieved the fuel economy it promises,” the lawsuit reads.

2017 Ford Super Duty. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Multiple Counts

The lawsuit hits Ford and Bosch with 58 counts of violating state consumer laws, false advertising laws, deceptive trade laws, as well as violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The lawsuit further states that Ford did not act alone and colluded with Bosch to evade emissions requirements for the sake of profit. The suit ultimately says it was an “organized scheme.”

It’s worth noting the law firm bringing this to court, Hagens Berman, is the same firm responsible for emissions lawsuits against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, and Volkswagen. Hagens Berman went so far as to conduct their own independent testing of the suspected 2011 through 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks. That’s where they found the emissions of harmful pollutants including the NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions up to 50 times the legal standard. They also say that even in average stop-and-go conditions, emissions are routinely as high as five times the standard.

“Our firm is the only law firm that has developed a system of independent research, including a team of dedicated scientists road-testing vehicles to uncover the next instance of emissions fraud that has blindsided consumers,” said Steve Berman, Managing Partner, Hagens Berman. “Ford has joined the ranks of Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes, and GM in its scheme to rake in profits for diesels that pollute at levels too high to even legally sell in the U.S., all while charging a $8,400 premium over comparable gas Super Duty models,”

“Bosch takes the allegations of manipulation of the diesel software very seriously. It is a well-known fact that these allegations remain the subject of investigations and civil litigation involving Bosch,” Alissa Cleland, Spokesperson for North America, Robert Bosch GmbH, tells Automoblog via e-mail. “Bosch is cooperating with the continuing investigations in various jurisdictions, and is defending its interests in the litigation.”

Cleland added: “as a matter of policy, and due to the sensitive legal nature of these matters, Bosch will not comment further concerning matters under investigation and in litigation.”

We reached out to Ford Motor Company. Our request was returned by Michael Levine, the automaker’s Product Communications Manager for North America.

“All Ford vehicles, including those with diesel engines, comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations,” he said. “Ford vehicles do not have defeat devices. We will defend ourselves against these baseless claims.”

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format

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2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke Diesel By The Numbers Tue, 09 Jan 2018 22:18:33 +0000 Race tracks are interesting places. You’d think all the conversations would be about race cars, but that’s not usually the case. Normally, you’re only talking about the race cars when they’re in the paddock or the race is going on. Surprisingly, once the cars are out on track, the paddock conversation usually turns to things of a much more prosaic nature: where’s a good restaurant, so-and-so got a new RV, and the number one topic of conversation, tow vehicles.

Power & Performance

You might think dyed-in-the-wool track rats wouldn’t care about trucks all that much, but they are vitally important. So when Ford says their new F-150 with the Power Stroke diesel can haul 2,020 lbs. of payload and drag 11,400 lbs. of trailer, race car, and spares up and over a mountain pass, I know a bunch of busted-knuckle, speed-addicted, unwashed gearheads are going to be very excited. This will be the first-ever F-150 Power Stroke diesel, expected to get an EPA-estimated 30 mpg on the highway.

Ford is not even close to joking around with their new F-150, as both the above figures for payload and towing are best-in-class. And the new Power Stroke has best-in-class power figures at 250 horsepower and a stump-pulling 440 lb-ft. of torque. The F-150’s Power Stroke diesel has the same engine technology as the Super Duty’s larger 6.7-liter Power Stroke. All of that peak torque comes at a low-low 1,750 rpm, with a pretty much pool-table-flat torque curve on up through the rpm range.

The new V6 diesel has the same compacted-graphite iron block and forged-steel crank found in the 2.7-liter EcoBoost for added strength, durability, and weight reduction (Ford is on a big time weight loss kick these days). Engine response is up and turbo lag is down thanks to a high-efficiency, variable-geometry turbocharger. A common-rail fuel injection system further optimizes performance and overall efficiency, while the high-pressure (29,000 PSI!) injection system enables smoother, quieter operation with reduced emissions. Dual fuel filters were added for improved break-in, and a cast-aluminum oil pan and two-stage oil pump are utilized to reduce parasitic loss and further improve fuel efficiency.

Ford conducted testing along the Davis Dam in Arizona. The Power Stroke F-150 trucks climbed 13 miles at a 6 percent grade in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. They were required to maintain a consistent power output during the tests. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Towing & Transmission

Now, about all that towing capacity. According to Ford, a lot of it flows from the high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body they introduced in 2015. Dropping 700 lbs. of overall weight allows the addition of cool tech that improves towing and payload capability, as well as giving you greater fuel economy. FoMoCo also tweaked such ancillary items, like adding a mechanical, engine-driven fan and dual radiator shutters for better high-temperature and high-altitude performance.

The F-150 engine control system backs off the fan load in more moderate driving and towing conditions through a viscous coupler, closing down the two radiator shutters for improved aerodynamic efficiency and reduced parasitic engine loss. Ford says owners will notice more power, even in harsh conditions, with this design.

“We know that competing diesels with electric cooling fans have to dial back on power under extreme heat and altitude, so we decided on a viscous-controlled mechanical fan that has the capacity to move much more air across the radiator and intercooler in extreme conditions,” explained David Ives, Ford Diesel Engine Technical Specialist.

Transmission-wise, the 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel is mated to a standard SelectShift 10-speed automatic. Ford says it maximizes shift points and the gear ratios allow for optimal power, low-rpm torque, and greater overall efficiency. The transmission even allows you to non-sequentially select the right gear ratio too.

Availability & Configurations

Ford dealers are taking orders now with deliveries beginning this spring. Final fuel economy estimates will also come this spring. Retail customers can choose the Power Stroke engine option on Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum edition SuperCrew trucks, with either a 5.5-foot or 6.5-foot bed, or in a SuperCab truck with a 6.5-foot bed. The engine is available in both 4×2 and 4×4 configurations as well.

So look at that, you can haul the entire team – crew, (long suffering) significant others, fans – and take your cars and all your spares to the track in one nice, comfy package.

Interested? Of course you’re interested. How else are you going to tow your Formula Vee from Schenectady to Heartland Park?

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford 2018 Trends Report: Uncertain Times, Activist Minds & The Age of Reason Thu, 14 Dec 2017 13:30:19 +0000 In 1978, Molly Hatchet’s self-titled debut album contained a fascinating rendition of Dreams, a tune done by The Allman Brothers Band nine years earlier. Sandwiching the incredible guitar riffs is singer Danny Joe Brown’s observation that the world has gone mad. Brown recalls waking one morning with the blues. Perhaps thinking it would provide some reprieve, he seeks a nearby hilltop for a peaceful, inspiring view. Instead, Brown notices everyone else is in the same boat.

“The whole world was fallin’ down, baby – right down in front of me,” he sings.

Brown ultimately concludes he must pull himself together, put on a new face, and get back in the race.

The More Things Change

The Ford 2018 Trends Report examines how recent shifts toward activism, compassion, and self-expression will shape life in the coming year. The sixth annual report also notes the increase in anxiety and depression, brought on by the constant barrage of news and social media. One of the critical findings is how people feel locked in a stalemate. On one hand, more than 60 percent of adults globally say they feel overwhelmed by the major events surrounding them. On the other, three-quarters believe they can influence positive change by getting involved.

“Worldwide, people are polarized,” writes Sheryl Connelly, Ford Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager, in the report. “At one end of the spectrum, people are leaning into these changes, championing them as a long overdue step in the right direction. At the other end, people feel displaced, disillusioned and discontent, ushering in restlessness and uncertainty.”

Nearly half of all respondents say they expect brands to take a stand on social issues. With regard to automakers, it means the new generation of buyers will be looking for more than just horsepower and heated seats. Companies investing in smart, sustainable manufacturing and ethical, inclusive business practices will lead the way. The automaker’s moral values will factor as much into the buying decision as the car’s features.

“This ethos is reflected in more and more brands and institutions around the world, including Ford,” Connelly continues.

The Ford 2018 Trends Report is broken down into 10 key areas as follows:

The Edge of Reason

Feelings of uneasiness and disbelief characterize this section of Ford’s report, especially in politics. In Brazil, 78 percent feel the country is having an identity crisis; an even larger number (94 percent) say the nation is having a leadership crisis. In India and the Middle East, over 70 percent of respondents say they feel overwhelmed by the changes taking place in the world. That margin is slightly ahead of the 66 percent of adults who agree globally. In the United States, 72 percent of respondents said they feel the country is having an identity crisis with 76 percent citing a leadership crisis.

TED Fellow Esra’a Al Shafei says people cope today by throwing themselves into their work, but that has its own stress points. Of the 18- to 29-year-olds Ford surveyed globally, 51 percent said they fear their job will eventually be irrelevant. One worry is the rate at which technology progresses. Some sense a computer-driven world will leave them without means to provide for their family.

“As economies become increasingly digitized and automated, we need to be sure we aren’t leaving people behind,” Al Shafei said. “We work to expand access to remote employment to those affected by conflict or climate disasters, believing that increased internet access will translate to increased opportunities.”

The Activist Awakening

Players from the National Football League took a stand by going to a knee while the #MeToo movement gave women a voice who otherwise had little to no recourse against those who sexually harassed and assaulted them. These larger happenings have inspired people to actively use their talents and skills to make a difference. The Ford 2018 Trends Report cites the 76 percent of adults who agree globally that their actions can inspire positive change. Further, 45 percent of adults agree globally that companies should take a stand on political and social issues. Over 50 percent of those between 18 and 29 believe this, the highest percentage of any age bracket.

Minding The Gap

According to Oxfam, the world’s richest 1 percent have more wealth than the rest of the world combined. In Brazil, 87 percent said they were concerned about the increasing gap between rich and poor, with 85 percent in Germany, and 84 percent in Canada expressing the same concern. By contrast, 73 percent of Americans said they were concerned about the widening gap.

“Many of our children are born into ZIP codes that put them at a significant disadvantage to achieving success, making them more likely to experience negative life outcomes,” explained TED Fellow Karim Abouelnaga. “In my personal journey to overcome poverty, I was told I was an outlier – but time and time again I meet kids who remind me that is not true. Talent is universal, even though opportunity is not.”

A home situated on the Inle Lake in Myanmar, where the income gap is among the largest in the world.

The Compassionate Conscience

The rise of social media has made news and information all the more accessible. We can access literally anything at any moment in our increasingly connected society. As a result, we may feel somehow close to those who have lost everything in a fire or to a flood, or to victims of violence. Overall, 74 percent of adults globally say they wish they did more to help their fellow man.

Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, is working to bolster the Compassionate Schools Project with the University of Virginia. The curriculum, offered in 25 of Virginia’s elementary schools, centers on health and mindfulness. The city also holds the “Give a Day” service week, were residents are encouraged to embrace one another and participate in acts of kindness.

According to Charles Schwab, charitable giving rose in 2017 in the United States.

Mending The Mind

Anxiety and depression have risen to the point where the World Health Organization is calling it an epidemic. While there is always a push to maintain physical health, people are beginning to see and understand the importance of mental and emotional health. 73 percent of adults globally say they need to take better care of their emotional well-being. Respondents in China and India were the highest at 90 and 86 percent respectively.

The increased consumption of social media plays a role. 57 percent of adults globally say they don’t get enough sleep; nearly half between 18 and 29 admit to playing on a digital device when they should be sleeping. Further, young adults also say social media makes them feel worse about themselves.

Retail Therapy

With constant life demands, busy schedules, and the pressures from social media, some reach into their wallets hoping to find relief and happiness. In China, 84 percent say they wish they could be more disciplined when it comes to shopping. 74 percent of respondents in the Middle East agreed as did 72 percent in India. These nations contrasted sharply with the United States, where only 36 percent said they wished they were more conscious.

Helplessly Exposed

Big Data is causing big trust issues for consumers who are raising concerns about the responsible use of their information. 68 percent of adults globally say they think it’s “creepy” when companies seem to know a little too much about them. 76 percent of Americans agreed with this, making the United States the highest of all nations surveyed.

The report details how American consumers have become much more adamant about minimizing access to their personal data. For example, TunnelBear, a company that installs virtual private networks, says sales jumped 200 percent after the government eased rules preventing internet service providers from tracking an individual’s online activity. With our romantic lives spreading into the online realm, there is further concern. In France, a journalist investigated a popular dating app and found the company had amassed 800 pages worth of data related to her.

Technology’s Tipping Point

Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, automated driving? It’s not science fiction any longer but how will such technology change our lives? Take autonomous cars for example. Proponents point to increased safety, reduced emissions, and a more streamlined infrastructure, but not everyone is convinced. In the United States, the Ford 2018 Trends Report reveals only 50 percent feel driverless cars are promising, much lower than China and India, where over 80 percent are optimistic. A study we examined earlier this year on automated driving found safety is still the top concern.

Singled Out

When we swipe right or left to determine a potential partner’s worth, it is not surprising the public’s perception of marriage is changing. According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans were married in 1960, whereas only about half were married in 2014. Experts believe the decrease in marriage is due to more young people focusing on their career versus starting a family. Globally, 63 percent of adults say the expectation is that one should marry and have kids.

Perhaps even more interesting (or disheartening) is how millennials view marriage, with 43 percent saying they would favor a “trial” marriage. In other words, after two or three years, the marriage could be formalized with a ceremony, or dissolved easily without lawyers and paperwork. The shifting trend indicates marriage may be viewed in the coming years as more of a business partnership versus an intimate relationship.

Big Plans For Big Cities

A majority of the world’s population lives in an urban setting (54 percent) and that number is expected to increase. The focus is on how to make cities healthy, safe, and sustainable. How do governments work with private sectors to ensure efficient infrastructure, gainful employment, and ample housing? The latter is a major concern for much of the world’s population; 88 percent of adults globally say they hope cities do more to create affordable housing. Transportation is also paramount, with 87 percent of adults globally believing cities need better options.

Nutshell Perspective

Ford’s 2018 Trends Report provides a lot of insight and perspective. Some of the findings are not surprising, others are interesting; some are mind-boggling and others eye-opening. Yet, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all headed into a new era.

Will it be better, this new era? In some ways probably so. In other ways probably not – but remember, there is always a saving grace in how things are often relative. Remember our grandparents and their stories about the “good old days.” Millennials will be that age in time – as will us Generation Xers. And we too will remiss about the days when (and I quote Baz Luhrmann’s lyrics) “prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.”

In the end, nothing is really predictable, no matter how accurate Ford’s 2018 Trends Report (or others like it) may seem. The only guarantee we have was perhaps best said by Garfield. In a February 1991 sketch by Jim Davis, the lovable orange cat walks past an overly confident pup with a sign reading “beware of the dog’s lawyer.” Garfield strolls on but casually remarks, albeit cynically, “the times, they are a-changing.”

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

The complete Ford 2018 Trends Report can be found here.

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This Denmark-Based Watch Company Is Giving Old Mustangs New Life Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:20:04 +0000 Christian Mygh and Jonathan Kamstrup give new meaning to the term “second-hand.” The duo has gathered parts from different classic Ford Mustangs, and turned them into rare, handmade watches. Mygh and Kamstrup visited salvage yards all over the world to find the Mustangs, but they say it’s about more than old car parts.

“Most people would just see a pile of metal, a ghost of a Mustang,” Mygh explained. “We see something completely different – the soul of a car and a story that needs to be told.”

Recovering & Recycling

Mygh and Kamstrup launched REC Watches in 2014 in Denmark, describing it as a “small and independent watch company.” The name “REC” represents the company’s concept of recovering, recycling, and reclaiming and is a play on the pronunciation of the word “wreck.” They even put a little humor into their work, joking on their FAQ page they believe customers prefer to do something else rather than read through the entire list of questions. Although, according to the FAQ section, the company can make anywhere from 400 to 800 watches from a given car.

Salvaged Ford Mustangs are transformed into unique timepieces by REC Watches. Photo: Ford Motor Company, REC Watches.

Inspired Design

The unique identity of each individual watch remains a central them in Mygh and Kamstrup’s work. In addition to collecting the parts, the pair seeks out the history of each vehicle, talking to the owners, and collecting photos and stories of the car for a special video. Each watch incorporates the vehicle’s original identification number, production year, and various classic Mustang design elements. The power dial, which resembles a fuel gauge, shows remaining battery life; the hands, date, and dial numbers are all inspired by the Mustang’s interior. On one trip to Sweden, Mygh and Kamstrup happened across a rare 1966 Raven Black, which later became their P51-04 collection of 250 watches.

“I’m not cutting up Mustangs,” Mygh said. “I’m bringing Mustangs that are beyond repair back to life as a watch.”

Pricing & Availability

The unique timepieces begin around $1,500 and are one of a kind, given how they are made. The watches are available now through the company’s website. With the holidays here, we think something like this would make an amazing Christmas gift for the car enthusiast in your life.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

Mustang REC Watches Gallery

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company, REC Watches.

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2018 Ford Super Duty By The Numbers Thu, 07 Dec 2017 04:36:55 +0000 Ford is pushing the envelope for the F-Series lineup, announcing updated power, towing, and payload figures for the 2018 Super Duty. The new specs reclaim titles for the blue oval held previously by General Motors and Ram. Ford says they are delivering more for customers by offering “five key best-in-class claims.”

“Super Duty customers expect the best, and for 2018 we’re giving our customers even more power and torque from our 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel – delivering the most horsepower and torque available among all heavy-duty pickups,” explained Todd Eckert, Ford Truck Group Marketing Manager.

By The Numbers

It’s not surprising to see Ford push the line here. In just a “matter of fact” sense, the truck market is highly competitive, and customer loyalty to a particular brand is often lifelong. “We are a Ford (or Chevy) family,” they say, or “I’ve never owned anything but . . . (insert truck make and model here).” While we won’t speculate Ford’s engineering and marketing motives, if the automaker held the belief that bigger horsepower, payload, and towing numbers were the way to a truck buyer’s heart, we would be inclined to agree.

In an already competitive market with such fierce brand loyalty, posting headline-worthy performance figures seems a satisfactory answer to the “how do we attract new buyers and retain existing customers” question. One could argue these increased power numbers for the Super Duty are coming at the right time. Ford’s November sales report indicated that F-Series trucks saw their best November since 2001, with 72,769 pickups sold for a 0.9 percent gain. Conversely, Ford’s heavy truck sales took a 50 percent dip with only 566 units moved last month opposed to 1,133 for the same period in 2016. By the end of November 2016, Ford had delivered 13,417 heavy trucks compared to 10,376 at November’s end this year, marking a 22.7 percent decrease.

It’s possible these new power and capacity increases for the 2018 Super Duty will help bolster Ford’s overall truck sales. Does Ford have specific intent with this latest Super Duty announcement? Perhaps. Ford truck sales are, according to their November report, either up nicely or down significantly, depending on the model. These new performance upgrades for the Super Duty could be a happy accident as far as timing is concerned, but if an automaker wanted to move some trucks, especially near the end of the year, having increased power figures floating through the media certinately wouldn’t hurt.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Fantastic Five

The 2018 Ford Super Duty now claims five vital segment titles, the first of which is a healthy 450 horsepower.  Previously held by GM’s Sierra and Silverado models at 445 with the new Duramax, Ford’s announcement gives the Super Duty a slight edge. The second is torque, a now whopping 935 lb-ft., enough to slip past Ram at 930 lb-ft. from the recently revised Cummins. From there, the 2018 Ford Super Duty takes best-in-class gooseneck towing at 34,000 lbs. and best-in-class conventional towing at 21,000 lbs., when properly equipped. By comparison, The 2018 Ram 3500 HD, when properly equipped, has a maximum gooseneck rating of 31,210 lbs. and a maximum conventional rating of 20,000 lbs.

“Plus, our new F-450 pickup now includes a 4X2 model, enabling our customers to get more done with the segment’s best payload and towing,” Eckert added.

The 2018 Super Duty boasts best-in-class payload at 7,360 lbs. for the segment’s top honor.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Vital Components

The grunt for the 2018 Super Duty comes from the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine, which received redesigned cylinder heads, optimized fuel calibrations, and enhancements to the turbo for 2018. The truck’s high-strength steel frame, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body, and integrated gooseneck hitch mounts are also important for capability and efficiency. It’s also worth noting that Ford designs and builds their own diesel engines and transmissions, something no other manufacturer currently does. The automaker says this is critical for getting the powertrain, vehicle calibrations, and chassis to align.

“This approach enables Ford engineers to optimize vehicle performance across the entire lineup and to further refine the powertrain to the specific needs of the customer,” reads a statement from Ford.

Pricing & Availability

The 2018 Super Duty is available now with the F-450 4×2 dual-rear-wheel pickup coming later this winter. Base MSRP is $52,830, although pricing can vary greatly depending on the selected trim level and the buyer’s desired number of additional options, features, and packages.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.  

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford Raptor Coloring Book Provides Family Fun (And It’s Free) Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:23:21 +0000 The older I get, the more I sometimes miss childhood. And it’s funny, because when I was a kid, I could not wait to grow up. Naturally, I was going to do whatever I wanted, eat whatever I felt like, and I was never, under any circumstances, going to take a nap. Adults, in my young mind, had all the fun; why my parents, teachers, and neighbors said “oh, don’t be in a hurry to grow up” was always beyond me.

Raptors & Crayolas

A few years ago, a friend mentioned her collection of adult coloring books, a newer but increasing trend with proven therapeutic benefits. She said it was a way for her to balance adulthood with her inner child. A recent Raptor coloring booklet from Blue Springs Ford Parts has us thinking it’s time to get a box of crayons for around the office. The coloring booklet is free and features two profile shots of the Ford Raptor, and two of the truck canvassing rough terrain.

What color will your Raptor be? This is one of the pages from the new Raptor coloring booklet released by Blue Springs Ford Parts.

Good Therapy

In 2005, Dr. Tim Kasser, Professor and Chair of Psychology at Knox College and student Nancy Curry co-authored Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety. Their research showed adults who color before a stressful event may reduce any anxiety stemming from said event. Both Dr. Kasser and Curry say coloring is a healthy activity and can provide adults a welcome break from the computer or e-mail account. The Raptor booklet from Blue Springs Ford Parts can also be enjoyed by the whole family.

“I know one thing – my kids love it,” explained Kyle Harris, Director at Blue Springs Ford Parts. “Every kid I know loves trucks, and every truck enthusiast I know loves the Raptor.”

The free Ford Raptor coloring booklet is available now. Blue Springs Ford Parts is a top-rated retailer of OEM Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury replacements parts, with online ordering offered 24 hours a day.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

Cover Photo: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford Introduces World’s First Electronic Handbrake Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:57:57 +0000 I know what you’re thinking, I was thinking the same thing too: Don’t we already have those (sort of stupid) push-button parking brakes already? That’s not much of an innovation. Au contraire mon frere. What Ford now offers is not a pushbutton electronic parking brake. No, this is an electronic version of the same sort of handbrake Sebastien Loeb used to slither up the Sisteron like an electric eel up a drainpipe.

Or, to put it more plainly: This is totally cool!

The all-new Ford Performance Drift Stick is a first-ever from a major car manufacturer. Basically, it is a rally-inspired electronic handbrake that can, if you’re good enough and coordinated enough, momentarily (momentarily is the key here) lock the rear wheels so you can either slide the car through corners and/or position the car for better corner exit. I raced rallies for a couple of seasons, and it’s not a particularly easy trick to master, but like a lot of tricks, when you get it juuust right, it’s a total gas.

Big Name Or No Name?

The Ford Performance Drift Stick was developed and designed for the Focus RS (a pretty good candidate for you and your navigator to run in the next Friday-Nighter Rally). Ford also mentions the Performance Drift Stick was approved by “rally and stunt star” Ken Block, for what that’s worth (not very much t’me). Block’s one of these half-talented narcissistic knuckleheads that seems to be all too common these days. I’m not saying he can’t goof around with a car in spectacular fashion, but what I am saying is doing it on film is not even close to doing it for real on a rally stage. When he does rally, he’s a make-up-the-numbers kind of guy that scrapes into the top ten with a current career best placing of ninth. So for me and my various rally friends, adding his name to a product doesn’t really help matters much. You might feel different, but so be it.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Inner Workings

The Drift Stick stems from the Focus RS’s Drift Mode and was developed by the same team. The Drift Stick itself is a trick looking aluminum lever between the driver’s seat and manual transmission’s gear selector. It is not, however, just a lever connected to the rear brakes, oh no. This is 2017, so even the most mundane of cars, let alone a Ford Focus RS, comes chock full of stuff and systems and computers and such that must be accounted for. The Drift Stick interfaces with the Ford Performance all-wheel drive system in conjunction with the anti-lock braking system. It opens up the rear-drive unit clutches and applies hydraulic pressure to lock the rear wheels; to kick the car into a slide essentially, but you’re not necessarily aware of all that. All you do is simply pull that trick looking lever.

Ford says the results are “clutch-free drift turns very similar to the experience of a real rally car.” Personally, I’d love to get my hands on one and see if this is true.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Plug & Play

The traditional route, a hydraulic handbrake, would have been a real pain to put in a production car. For starters, it would have required considerable alterations to the car, so Ford went entirely electronic. Turns out, going fully electronic opened up a number of interesting benefits. In fact, the electronic Drift Stick has many similarities with the professional calibration tool Ford already sells. So integrating the Drift Stick with this existing technology was literally as easy as plugging in a USB cable.

This allows you to recall diagnostic data and upload powertrain calibrations for the Focus RS. Slick!

There’s a bunch of other nifty advantages by going with this digital design. You get instantaneous engagement and release of the rear brakes. The Ford Performance Drift Stick is also light, requiring just five to six pounds of pressure to operate, significantly less than a hydraulic handbrake. Installation and removal is easy, if you go with this after you’ve bought your Focus RS. There’s no welding, hole drilling, or calipers needed like you’d do with a hydraulic kit. The Drift Stick connects to the on-board diagnostics port on the car, so it can function as a calibration tool. Pretty nifty, eh?

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Pricing & Availability

The kit comes with the Drift Stick lever, all the mounts, circuit board, and professional calibration functionality. And, get this, the car’s warranty is not voided by its installation. The Ford Performance Drift Stick will be available starting December 1st at any authorized Ford Performance Parts distributor for $999. Ford also, rightly, points out how the Drift Stick is intended for track use only (my emphasis added).

And if I have to point out why Ford is right in saying this, and why you should not go screwing around with stuff like this on everyday streets with traffic and pedestrians and such, then I have only four words for you: Hand. Me. The. Keys. Seriously you slack-jawed chucklehead. You shouldn’t even be driving if you’re out there taking dumb risks like that. Take the bus. Take a taxi. Leave stuff like this on the track where it belongs.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford, Roush Develop 700 Horsepower 5.0-Liter Supercharger Kit Fri, 03 Nov 2017 14:16:54 +0000 You know why they put buckles on the back of straight jackets? They do that so even if the crazy person gets out of the sleeves, they can’t undo the buckles and get loose. You know what happens when the nuts get loose? Oh all sorts of bad things. They can start fires and run for Congress or, in the case we have here, cook up a bolt-on supercharger kit that will screw the output of Ford’s 5.0-liter V8 up to seven-hundred horsepower, and then sell it to anyone with cash. This isn’t a great idea. No. This is an insanely great idea!

Crazy Train

To the gearhead, the ones involved really need no introduction. One is Ford Performance. You know, the guys that always answer any question with the phrases “More power! More brakes! More grip!” The other is Roush Performance: the guys that run NASCAR race teams and hand-build engines for Ford GTs. And let us not forget Roush Performance is headed by Jack Roush, a gearhead so bent in his love of speed he crashed his own airplanes, not once but three separate times (by my count), and one of those times included spiking a WWII vintage P-51 Mustang into a lake.

Or to put it another way, they’re the perfect professionals to design and build something like this.

Dual Applications

This, in this case, happens to be a new, state-of-the-art supercharger that peaks at 700 horsepower for the V8-powered 2018 Mustang GT. Ford Performance and Roush Performance rolled the beast out at this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The blower kit is specifically designed to work with Ford’s evergreen 5.0-liter V8 and the mill’s new port and direct injection fuel systems. Yes, it’s good for 700 ponies but it also offers 610 lb-ft. of torque at 12 psi of boost, running on 93 octane fuel for either the manual or automatic transmission. You can get 93 octane at the pump, right? At least around here I see 93 high test, so, cool, you can run it on pump gas!

Ford and Roush also designed the supercharger to work on the same engine when placed within the bay of a pickup truck. When situated within a 2018 F-150, the plant provides 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft. of foundation distorting torque.

2018 Ford F-150. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Strong Relationships

And yeah, this is a literal kit that comes with all installation hardware, instructions, and an exclusive performance calibration set up. The new supercharger kit is also backed by a limited warranty and supported by the Ford Motor Company and Roush network. And no, the installation of this kit will not void any new vehicle warranty. And yes, you can start your screwball cackling right about now.

And let’s not forget these guys, both Ford and Roush, are serious. They have a successful working relationship that goes back more than two decades, and really know their stuff when it comes to squeezing performance out of Ford powertrains. So when they say it’s a complete kit and it’s backed by a warranty, they ain’t joking. They might be a little nuts, but they ain’t joking.

“Ford and Roush have teamed up on performance for years on and off the track,” said Doug White, Global Ford Performance Parts Manager. “This new supercharger is another great example of our innovation in performance, greatly improving horsepower and torque so people can enjoy two of our most iconic vehicles even more.”

The new supercharger kit is warrantied when installed by a Ford dealer or any Automotive Service Excellence-certified (ASE) technician. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

No Regrets

If that’s not good enough, take it from the man his own self: “Our teams collaborated to create the most highly engineered, tested, and performing supercharger kit on the market. The combination of the 2018 5.0-liter engine and our all-new, fully integrated 2650 supercharger system yields simply incredible, no-compromise performance,” shrieked Jack Roush, Chairman, Board of Directors, Roush Performance before a couple of massive guys in white coats threw a net over him, and hauled him back to the Dearborn Center for The Chronically Speed Obsessed Who Are Not Allowed to Have Scissors.

The new supercharger kit will be available early next year through Ford dealers, Ford Performance Warehouse Distributors, and Roush Performance dealers. And, get this, you won’t even need a note from your doctor or therapist, nor a signed release document from a major law firm. America baby, America!

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

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New Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 = GO! Sat, 28 Oct 2017 13:30:33 +0000 It seems some of the diehard gearheads at Ford just couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to trim out the Mustang GT a little further. Ford pretty much states this right up front with the apologia: “Passionate Mustang Team Works After-Hours to Create New Performance Pack for Ultimate Road-Hugging Thrill Ride.” Which is a rather polite way of saying, “the kids were playing around in the garage again, but what they came up with is pretty good, so we decided to go with it.”

Or to be a little more definitive, say hello to the new Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2, which slots between the GT Performance Pack and the full blown GT350.

Mad Men

How the Performance Pack Level 2 came to happen actually reads like a who’s who of Ford tech gurus, wrench turners, and grease monkeys. Tom Barnes, Mustang Vehicle Engineering Manager, signed off on the whole deal with a jaunty, “a passion to create something special is what really drove this project. And that really showed in the off-the-clock way we went about doing our work.”

The whole project was spearheaded by Tire and Wheel Engineer Chauncy Eggleston who led the development of the unique, 19-inch wheels that provide notable steering and handling improvements. Jonathan Gesek, another Mustang veteran and former aerodynamics specialist at NASA, lead the development of a high-performance front splitter and rear spoiler. Jamie Cullen, Ford Supervisor for Vehicle Dynamics Development, was in charge of road test efforts to tie the whole thing together.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Special Attributes

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 features a unique chassis, special antilock brake tuning, unique stability control, electric power-assisted steering, Brembo six-piston front brake calipers with larger rotors, a special k-brace, larger radiator, silver-painted strut tower brace, and a TORSEN rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio. Other highlights include the lower stance, the redesigned front splitter and rear spoiler, and 305/30/R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, wrapped around split-fitment aluminum wheels – 19×10.5-inch front and 19×11-inch rear. Does split-fitment mean they are a two-piece thing? Dunno but that’s kind of a nice retro deal right there.

The new tires are one-and-a-half inches wider than the Level 1 skins and provide a firmer grip. And, since they’re bigger, that lead to the retuned chassis that put the car more than a half-inch closer to the pavement. The package is available exclusively with a manual transmission. Huzzah I say huzzah!

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Ride & Handling

That new chassis also features custom tuned MagneRide dampers and a quicker steering calibration for better response. Other improvements include a 67 percent stiffer rear stabilizer bar, a 12 percent stiffer front stabilizer bar, 20 percent stiffer front springs, and rear springs that are 13 percent stiffer. Ford says this contributes to a more stable ride around corners with less body roll, to which I say “doi!” and I’ll also add that it will probably ride rougher and be more jarring. But I was always okay with that.

Aerodynamic Magic

The aero upgrades all center around the larger and lower front splitter and redesigned rear spoiler. The splitter is a variation based on the splitter from the Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Mustang engineers attached the piece to the underside of the front that fans out as much as 3 inches around the corners of the Mustang GT. The bottom line is about 24 pounds of downforce at 80 mph. To balance that out, a subtle redesigned rear spoiler stretches across the decklid to hold the rear down. During the development phase, the aero team even went so far as to rapid-prototype various rear spoilers using a 3D printer for faster turnaround times.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Distinguishing Traits

The only way to tell you’re dealing with a new Performance Pack Level 2 Mustang is the black detailing on the splitter and spoiler, the tire spat on the back edge of the rear wheel wells, and the 10-spoke Dark Tarnish (sheesh!) wheels. An optional extra (well worth it, if you ask me) for gearheads who buy the Level 2 Pack are Recaro seats in either leather or cloth, so you don’t slop all over the place while cornering.

The New Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 will reach North American Ford showrooms this spring, so you might want to get in line now.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 Gallery

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford Mustang Engineers Show Why Duct Tape Is Awesome Tue, 10 Oct 2017 15:44:47 +0000 In 1999, Baz Luhrmann released Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), a spoken word, notional commencement speech to a class entering the new millennium. Based on an essay by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, “The Suncreen Song” contains nuggets of advice garnered from Luhrmann’s own “meandering experience.” He advises the graduating class to remember compliments, avoid beauty magazines, and spend time with their parents, among other things.

I would add, to Luhrmann’s list of already excellent advice, duct tape. In the song, he says the benefits of sunscreen are proven by scientists. I am sure, at some point in time, there was a study done by scientists on duct tape. It can solve a myriad of problems and no person should be without a roll. It can fix anything.

Human Intuition

Just ask Ford engineers Jonathan Gesek and Mike Del Zio. Despite the computer-generated and data-driven approach to vehicle development today, the human element is still needed. There are times a computer cannot read things the way a human can. After completing a high-speed lap in a prototype Mustang, Del Zio, a vehicle dynamics engineer, noticed the car was not responding to his liking around corners. The latest set of wind tunnel numbers showed everything was fine, but Del Zio was not convinced.

That’s when Gesek, an aerodynamics engineer, slapped a strip of duct tape over the lower grille gap. We are fairly certain (although Ford did not confirm) both engineers applied sunscreen at this time too. That would be logical since they were outside at a race track.

The slice of duct tape over the grille provided a “Band-Aid” fix to what is known as front-end lift. Gesek and Del Zio have devoted hundreds of hours to the aerodynamic performance and efficiency of the new 2018 Mustang. Their work has helped maintain and even improve the Mustang’s EPA fuel economy ratings. In essence, these guys know the Mustang and know it well. And they know when to trust their gut.

“That little strip of tape made all the difference,” Del Zio said.

2018 Ford Mustang. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Proper Modifications

Mustang’s front-end styling changes include a lowered nose, larger front splitter, and rocker shield. Each element helps keep the car planted while allowing air to flow smoothly underneath. But it all started with a strip of duct tape from a dull gray roll. Granted, you won’t find a new Mustang at the dealership with a slice of the famed adhesive on the front, but you can be confident regardless.

“At the end of a straightaway, what confidence do you have in being able to brake and make a turn,” Del Zio said, emphasizing the importance of human-inspired engineering and design. “Things start to come up fast at 155 miles an hour.”

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.

2018 Ford Mustang Fuel Economy Improvements

2017 2018 Increase
City Highway Combined City Highway Combined Combined
EcoBoost (auto) 21 30 24 21 32 25 4.2%
EcoBoost (man.) 21 30 24 21 31 25 4.2%
GT (auto) 15 24 18 16 25 19 5.6%
GT (man.) 15 25 18 15 25 18 No Change

Photo & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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2018 Ford F-Series Super Duty Limited: Big Capability, Big Price Sat, 07 Oct 2017 19:30:59 +0000 Ford Motor Company recently unveiled their latest F-Series Super Duty variant, a model they say ” sets the new luxury standards for high-end heavy-duty truckers.” The top variant, the F-450 Limited, is now Ford’s largest luxury vehicle, and it’s capable of towing over 30,000 lbs., the equivalent of an F-35 fighter plane.

Just in case you need to move one.

Royal Treatment

Inside, Ford pours on the comfort with custom Camelback two-tone leather seats, a premium stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a Miko suede headliner. Other luxury elements include the hand-finished dark ash wood trim, a panoramic moonroof with retractable shade, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and special badging.

“Imagine opening the door to your humidor and sinking into your favorite leather lounge chair – that’s the sensation the new Super Duty Limited inspires,” said Aileen Barraza, Ford Design Manager.

Each Limited truck has a dedicated serial number laser-etched on the center console. A class-exclusive, flat rear load floor, complete with a fold-up locking storage feature makes for easy cargo hauling. Exterior flair includes a unique, twin-bar satin grille with chrome accents and quad-beam LED lights.

Power & Performance

Ford’s increasingly evergreen 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 will motivate the new Limited trim in either a single- or dual-rear-wheel configuration. The Blue Oval is quick to point out their list of segment-exclusive features like the Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage, adaptive cruise control and steering, and forward collision warning with brake support.

“The Super Duty lineup is a win for all of our customers, from successful ranchers to contractors to RV owners,” said Todd Eckert, Ford Truck Group Marketing Manager.

Market Demands

A new 4×4 Super Duty Limited is north of $80,000, with the F-250 Limited coming in at $80,835. The F-350 Limited beeps across the scanner at $82,010 and the F-450 carries a window sticker of $87,100. A fully-loaded Super Duty Limited 4×4 will tip the cash register at almost $95,000. Unfortunately, Ford takes a tone we don’t necessarily agree with when addressing the price point.

“Customers who check every option box can top one out for as much as $94,455,” a recent press release from Dearborn, Michigan reads.

Perhaps we are being critical, but it seems as if Ford is bragging a little. The metrics, however, support not only the addition of the Limited trim, but the price too. More than 50 percent of Super Duty retail sales this year are concentrated in the top trims, the Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. It’s only fitting the Limited is the next choice for Ford customers.

“We created this new truck to answer the call for even more premium choices in the Super Duty range as we see more and more truck customers trending to more premium models,” Eckert added. “Super Duty Limited is the most luxurious and advanced heavy-duty pickup truck ever created by Ford for accomplished buyers with appetites for the high life and hard-earned dollars to match.”



The Ford Super Duty Limited crew cab arrives this winter.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.

2018 Ford F-Series Super Duty Limited Gallery

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford, Microsoft Dive Deep Into Augmented Reality Tue, 03 Oct 2017 16:00:43 +0000

100 years ago, designing a car was all paper and pencils, slide rules and French-curves, body bucks and modeling clay. About 40 or 50 years ago, vehicle designing drifted more toward computer modeling and other automated and detached methods. For all that CAD/CAM and 3-D shaping brought: ease of variability, iterative sizing, better proportioning, and things like that, it did, by and large, take car designers out of the real-world. It might have worked on paper or on a computer screen, but get that prototype car fleshed out in sheet steel sitting under natural light, and many unseen flaws would become all too apparent.

Reality Bytes

Ford designers have taken a step away from the CAD screens and, curiously enough, have also backed off the tried and true, old school clay-sculpting steels and rakes, and swapped in some mixed reality headsets and trick visualization software. This allows them to change design elements like side mirrors, grilles, interiors, and more at the click of a button.

Ford chooses to call it “mixed reality,” but what we’re really talking about here is generically referred to as “Augmented Reality.” Unlike the better known and over-hyped Virtual Reality (which has been the next big thing/revolution that will change the very fabric of society itself sometime next year since 1989), AR puts digital things in the real-world that you’re already seeing through special glasses or other head mounted displays.

Rescue Mission

A few years back I was working for a company that, among other fun things, did museum designs. We were working on a museum that was going to have an interactive Coast Guard rescue helicopter exhibit. One of the ideas was having a static Coast Guard rescue helicopter sitting inside, and then handing out Augmented Reality headsets to people as they got in the chopper. You’d put the headset on, you’d see the chopper and the museum and other guests around you, but you’d also see weather and the environment beyond the rescue helicopter. So if you were sitting in the pilot’s seat, outside the windows you’d see coastal Alaska and wind-swept seas, and the fishing boat you had to rescue. Even better, if you were sitting at the open helicopter door, working the virtual winch, you’d look out and down, and in addition to seeing the carpet on the museum floor, 100 or so feet below you’d “see” a fisherman waiting to be plucked out of the water.

I tested this out, sitting in an office chair one day, and the effect was downright creepy. It wasn’t completely as immersive as VR, but AR worked surprisingly well enough to make you feel you were in one of Igor Sikorsky’s finest, and there was a person on the verge of drowning. Ironically, the weakest link in building this was finding a disused Cost Guard helicopter that was cheap enough. Those things are amazingly expensive.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Point & Click

Another interesting coincidence, as far as Ford is concerned, is that one of the better purveyors of Augment Reality is, of all people, Microsoft. The Redmond, Washington-based concern has this hardware/software rig they call the HoloLens that, with a little bit of tweaking, can add Augmented Reality to seemingly any given situation. Ford designers have been working with Microsoft HoloLens technology for a year now at FoMoCo’s Dearborn studios.

HoloLens allows them to see possible design elements in a virtual sense as if they were part of the actual physical vehicle sitting before them. HoloLens allows them to investigate different shapes, sizes, and textures of vehicle characteristics in minutes and hours, rather than weeks and months using clay models. What would that lower body cladding look like in smooth finish instead of textured? Click, click, boom. Now you can see it. What if we change all of the trim pieces from black to a satin chrome? Click, click, boom. Now you can see it. And not just see it, but you can walk around the actual, physical car in real-space, in real-time.

Flexible Approach

The system works and tracks with you through the wire-free headsets. There’s a Windows 10 computer embedded in the headset and the whole shee-bang is untethered, wearable, and mobile; no tethering, no cables, no problem. Microsoft’s HoloLens allows designers to see projected holograms against photo-quality backdrops; on the street in the summer, at night in the rain, those sorts of scenarios. So now, if something doesn’t work, looks strangely proportioned, is lacking the needed surface tension, Ford’s designers can quickly reevaluate the design, make changes, and determine styling options much earlier in development. The HoloLens technology enables designers and engineers to better collaborate and understand the customer experience as well.

The headsets can even be synced so multiple team members can view a design simultaneously for easy collaboration. They can also record audio notes for team members working in other time zones or off-site to review.

“It’s amazing we can combine the old and the new – clay models and holograms – in a way that both saves time and allows designers to experiment and iterate quickly to dream up even more stylish, clever vehicles,” said Jim Holland, Ford Vice President, Vehicle Component and Systems Engineering. “Microsoft HoloLens is a powerful tool for designers as we continue to reimagine vehicles and mobility experiences in fast-changing times.”

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos, Video & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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Ford, Virginia Tech Help Autonomous Cars Talk To Us Tue, 26 Sep 2017 20:30:10 +0000

Well this is kind of a goofy question to answer, but honestly, I’m glad someone is thinking to ask it now versus waiting for an autonomous car to plow through a Times Square crosswalk: How will autonomous cars let us know they see us? If you think about it, this is not usually an issue for pedestrians and drivers interacting on the streets today. It’s kind of pointing out the obvious, but being either a pedestrian or a driver and interacting at a crosswalk is pretty easy because there are people involved.

Communication Breakdown

What happens when you take people, flawed and distracted though they may be, out of half of that equation? How will an autonomous vehicle be working, what it be needing to do, and how will it communicate that to us? For me, it has always been rather easy to tell what a car (and therefor its driver) is going to do. I spend a lot of time around cars and racetracks and end up paying a lot of attention to what cars are doing. So it’s easy for me to tell if a car/driver “sees” me and whether it’s okay to walk into the street.

Dive, squat, roll, transitioning from one vehicle state to another is something you pick up at racetracks almost by instinct. “Yeah, he’s on the brakes early,” you can say because, over the years, you have been training yourself to notice things like weight transfer, causing the front to nose down by half an inch because the driver has gotten off the throttle. And it’s easy to transfer those traits from the racetrack to every day life.

A lot of people, however, do not think in ways that your everyday, run-of-the-mill gearhead does. Those are the people that, when waiting to cross at a crosswalk wait. They wait until they not only see the car is slowing, but until they see it is coming to a stop, and then they, sometimes, wait even further until the car comes to a complete stop and they make eye contact with the driver and the driver gives them a nod or motions them forward (or both) and then they cross the street.

For those people, who are the majority, how will the inevitable autonomous car let them know it’s okay to cross? Ford Motor Company and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have been working on just that.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Signals & Signs

FoMoCo and Virginia Tech are conducting user experience studies to suss out a way to communicate the vehicle’s intent by soliciting real-world reactions to self-driving cars on public roads. The team thought of using text displays, but reasoned that would require all people understand the same language. I would have rejected it because it requires people to stop, read, cognate, and react and that takes too much time. They also thought of using symbols, but that was nixed because symbols historically have low recognition among consumers.

Ford and VTTI found that lighting signals are the most effective means for creating a visual communications protocol for self-driving vehicles. Think of it as being akin to turn signals and brake lights, only more so. Turn signals and brake lights are already standardized and widely understood, so they reckon the use of lighting signals is the best way to communicate. The lighting signals will communicate if a vehicle is in autonomous mode or if it’s beginning to yield or about to accelerate from a stop. Makes sense, no?

To signal the vehicle’s intent to yield, two white lights that move side to side were displayed, indicating the vehicle is about to yield and come to a full stop. Active autonomous mode was signaled by a solid white light. Start to go was conveyed by a rapidly blinking white light that indicated the vehicle would soon be accelerating from a stop.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Candid Camera

To test this out, Ford equipped a Transit Connect with a light bar on the windshield. To go even further and not tip their hand that there was an actual human driving the thing, the VTTI team developed a way to conceal the driver with a “seat suit” so it looked like the van was empty. I know, I know, that’s going a bit far, isn’t it? Then again, this is real science, and a real study, and you best be figuring out how to negate outside undue influences and such. This is why studies are double-blind and things of that nature: eliminate all variables that can skew the results.

Ford and VTTI took it a step further even. While driving the simulated autonomous Transit Connect on public roads in northern Virginia, they captured pedestrian’s reactions on video. They logged over 1,800 miles of driving and more than 150 hours of data, including encounters with pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers at intersections, in parking lots, garages, and even airport roadways. The vehicle was studded with high-definition cameras to capture the behavior of other road users and provide a 360-degree view of surrounding areas as well.

Universal Language

Ford is hoping to create an industry standard and is already working with several organizations including the International Organization for Standardization and SAE International for a common visual communications interface across all self-driving vehicles, in all locations. Ford is also working on ways to communicate with those who are blind or visually impaired as part of this project too.

Will it work? They didn’t seem to run over anyone in northern Virginia so it worked in that sense, and besides, festooning cars with more lights and signals and all that, it does seem like a plausible and workable solution. Besides, we’ll have to do something along these lines, or nobody – cars, people the whole lot – will know what to do when the traffic light turns green.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.

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