Ford’s 4 Door Bronco Misses Some IIHS Marks

Ford’s new four-door Bronco SUV did not meet the standards to win two safety awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The issues included the Bronco’s head restraints and headlights according to the IIHS.

While the Bronco got “good” ratings in five of the six IIHS “crashworthiness” tests but in the head restraint category it earned only an acceptable rating. In simulated rear-end crashes the test dummy’s head was not as protected from force as it needed to be.

The IIHS also rated the headlight system as only “marginal” as they did not provide enough visibility a far enough distance into curves.

Thus the Bronco missed the mark to earn IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ designations.

Ford stated that safety is high priority in all their vehicles and that they were happy to see they earned the top rating in five of six crash test ratings at the IIHS and a superior rating for front crash prevention with standard automatic braking. They also reminded consumers and journalists that the despite some lower IIHS ratings the Bronco exceeds all federal safety standards.

For a vehicle to achieve Top Safety Pick status the vehicle needs a “good” rating in all crashworthiness tests. They must also have a “good” or “acceptable” rating for headlights and have an “advanced” or “superior” rating for front crash prevention. To earn the Safety Pick+ status the same requirements must be met plus “good” or acceptable ratings for all versions and packages available for the vehicle in question.

 

Ford Gives the Focus Line a Makeover

To keep up with competitors like the VW Golf, the Ford Focus has undergone some major updates.

The family hatchback version of the Focus takes its cues from the new Fiesta. The front end has been totally redesigned and now includes LED headlights as standard (on all Focus models). And have built in fog lights. The darkened rear lights are now arranged in a loop pattern.

All the variants are getting different styling updates. The Titanium, Acitve, ST-Line and performance ST versions will include and individual fascia and grille designs. ST-Line variants will have side skirts, rear refuser and a spoiler. The Active has a more SUV like design with additional lower body cladding and bigger side vents.

The Vignale premium wheel package is now available on more variants and has five new alloy wheel designs.

The ST hatchback as been set further apart by design with a honeycomb grille, new side vents, spoiler and skirts. It will also have 18 inch wheels with 19 inch wheels available.

Probably the biggest change is the brand new Sync 4 infotainment system. Physically, it is a 13.2 inch dashboard-mounted touchscreen. The system now controls the environmental options in the car as well. Ford claims no function will be more than a “touch or two” from any function.

The Sync 4 system works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also includes speech recognition and does over-air software updates. Owners can also use the FordPass app to check fuel levels and monitor the life span on the oil from a smartphone app.

 

Walmart Collaborates with Ford Motor Company and Argo AI for Autonomous Home Delivery

Walmart is teaming up with Argo AI and Ford Motor Company to expand its autonomous delivery program. The program would employ Ford Escape hybrids with Argo AI technology to deliver for Walmart. Test cities include Miami, D.C., and Austin.

The program will allow Walmart customers to have groceries and other items delivered directly to their home.

Walmart stated that they were excited to expand their efforts toward offering autonomous delivery with Ford and Argo. Walmart is also piloting a similar program with Gatik and GM employing GMs Cruise.

This program would become a part of the already operational Walmart+ for which home delivery is key component. A perk of the program is unlimited and free grocery deliveries.

Despite sales growing by 79% in the last fiscal year, partly due to the pandemic, the e-commerce part of Walmart’s business has not yet turned a profit, increasing pressure for the company to find a way to put its online ordering/home delivery program in the black.

 

F-150 Lightning

Ford has announced its new F-150 Lightning. This will be its first production electric version of their popular pick-up truck and possible rival to the Tesla Cybertruck coming next year.

Chairman Bill Ford called the new truck a “defining moment” for the American car industry and Ford.

Their new electric vehicle is built on the fourteenth generation of the F-Series. The F-Series has been ever-popular, dominating the personal vehicle market in the US. Ford sold about 730,000 F-Series in 2020.

The F-150 Lightning has a dual-motor, FWD powertrain that produces 563bhp and 775lb ft. This is the most torque offered yet on an F-150. There will be two battery capacities offered with ranges around 230 and 300 miles based on the American EPA test cycle.
Ford stated that the Lightning will do 0-60mph in the mid 4.0 second range with the extended-range battery.

The maximum payload is rated by Ford at 907kg with the standard 18in wheels and a towing capacity of 4536kg.

Ford will offer the a home charging station as standard with the truck and says it will be capable of 150kW DC fast-charging, allowing a 15-80% charge in 41 minutes.

The new Lightning will have all the versatility of the gas-powered versions. Features will include onboard scales which will help estimate the vehicles range when carrying payload. And a functionality to make towing easier.

Additionally, the truck can be used as a back-up generator of sorts for an owner’s home during a power outage. Ford claim it can power a home for 10 days. Also, owners will be able to use the truck to provide power to tools and other equipment.

The starting price will be $39,974.

 

Ford’s New Hybrid F-150

While it will not come out as king on the hill in overall pick-up mileage, Ford Motor Company’s 2021 F-150 hybrid will beat out all the gas-powered rivals, this according to estimates from the EPA.

The new F-150 hybrid has a 3.5 liter V-6 “PowerBoost” hybrid variant. The two-wheel drive will get a combined 25 miles to the gallon—25 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, according to Ford. It will receive best in class among light-duty pickups with gasonline engines.

It will still trail its diesel rivals like the Chevy Silverado (27 mpg combined) and the Dodge Ram 1500 (26 mpg combined.

The four-wheel drive hybrid F-150 will come in around 24 mpg combined, 24 mpg city and highway.

The 2WD hybrid delivers 430 hop and 570 pound-feet of torque, according to Ford. It is rated at 12,700lobs of conventional towing (with the tow package) and a maximum payload of 2,120 pounds.

The new F-150 are available for sale now.

 

Ford Employs Boston Dynamic’s Robot “Fluffy” to Help Retool VanDyke Plant

The VanDyke Ford Transmission Plant will be welcoming a strange visitor this August. A 70lbs robot, dog like in appearance, nicknamed Fluffy will spend two days at the Macomb County plant.

Fluffy’s job in those two workdays will be to conduct a laser scan on a section of the plant floor. Scans like these are performed before retooling. If the experiment is successful, Ford will consider more frequent scans. This would allow Ford to prepare rolling out new vehicles sooner which in the modern competitive market could be a real advantage.

Ford is leasing Fluffy and his buddy Spot (a similar robot) from Boston Dynamics for one year. No one would say what the cost was but Ford did state it would cost less than a typical scan which runs the automaker $300,000 apiece. Boston Dynamics list the purchase price of such a robot at &74,500

While Spot won’t be joining Fluffy, a third round robot named Scouter will be. Scouter’s job is to give Fluffy a ride to save its energy.

Fluffy and his five cameras have proven skillful in many situations. For example, it has no problem navigating steps and can pick it self up if it falls. Fluffy is pretty maneuverable, which is why it is so versatile. It is controlled by a gaming-like set of joy sticks.

Ford Motor Company’s Classic F-150 Gets Luxury/Tech Upgrades

It seems that as Ford Motor Company reworks of its best money maker, the F-150, the reworkings are mostly changes to the interior. The changes are luxury oriented including recliner sleeper seats and hands-free technology.

Believe it or not, sleep was a demand of many truck buyers. These buyers purchased almost 900k F-Series trucks last year. This was worth about $42 billion to Ford Motor Company. Perhaps in opposition to many people’s assumptions Ford F-Series customers want something more like a first-class experience in a truck cabin. They don’t want a no-frills work vehicle.

With many competitors from General Motors Company or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles offering modern creature comfort in trucks Ford felt the pressure and decided to upgrade the F-150.

The new F-150, available later this year, will provide a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment center matching what its Dodge Ram competitor offers. Additionally, the new F-150 will be available as a hybrid or an EV in about two years according to Ford. The hybrid will include a generator feature that Ford says could power a worksite or home. The F-150 will also become the first Ford to offer over-air software updates just like Tesla has offered for years. The hands-free driving feature is coming from the electric Mustang Mach-E (available later this year).

After 17 Years The Mustang Mach 1 is Back

After 17 long years Ford Motor Company will be offering a new Mustang Mach 1. The new Mustang Mach 1 will include suspension upgrades and new aerodynamics. The 480 horsepower 2021 Mach 1, according to Ford Motor Company, will be “the pinnacle of 5.0L Mustang performance and handling,” when it becomes available for sale next spring.

The Mach 1 is very much a party of Mustang history. The first version came about in 1969 winning two in a row Sports Car Club of America Manufacturer’s rally championships. It set 295 speed and endurance records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in its first model year. Since that very first generation Ford has built only two Mach2s. One based on the unpopular Mustang II that kept the brand alive through the oil shock of the 70s. The second was based on the ’04, fourth-generation Mustang.

The 3rd iteration of the Ford Mustang Mach 1 will include an upgraded version of Ford’s fast-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission; which isn’t even available on the Bullitt or Shelby Mustangs. It will also feature 150% more downforce than the Mustang GT + Ford’s performance pack 1 upgrades.

If some drivers want a more vintage feel they can choose the Tremec six-speed manual that the Shelby GT350.

The 3rd generation Mach 1 will be available next spring.

Ford’s Puma Getting the ST Upgrade

A new ST version of the Puma crossover will arrive later in 2020 according to its maker, Ford Motor Company.

Leaked imagery of the Puma ST suggests it will be borrowing its body look from they Hyundai Kona N. This imagery does not reveal how the Puma ST will differentiate itself from the standard Puma. The wheels suggest a design like the Fiesta ST and it is thought by some the Puma ST will borrow its powertrain.

The 1.5 liter, 3 cylinder engine of the Fiesta ST gives 197bhp and 214lb ft. Enough to give the so-called “supermini” a take of speed of 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and its speed tops out around 114mph. The larger, higher ride Puma will have to make performance sacrifices if it uses this unmodified powertrain.

From what has been seen of prototypes, it will have a standout lower body kit that rounds the whole vehicle with a splitter-style front bumper and a new rear bumper that will house the twin tailpipes.

Other upgrades could include a stiffer suspension and larger brake discs. Options could include a limited slip differential, selectable driving modes and perhaps launch control function.

The Puma will be Ford’s third Euro-model to get an ST version and will be Ford’s first “hot” SUV to launch overseas. Its rivals will include the aforementioned Hyundai Kona N as well as their HR-V.

 

Ford Now Refitting to Produce Medical Supplies

As General Motors was picked for a government contract to make ventilators, Ford is getting on the medical supply train all on its own. Ford revealed recently that they will be making breathing machines along with other medical supplies like face masks and reusable gowns that will be made out of a silicone-coated nylon the company typically uses in a very different way.

The material is usually used to create Ford Motor Company’s air bags. The material has many qualities Ford was looking for to make these gowns. Liquid permeability and that it can be washed and reused up to 50 times. Ford worked with a local Detroit hospital to design these “isolation gowns.” They are set to manufacture 1.3 million of these gowns by early July.

The facemasks Ford creates will be distributed to its own plant workers but Ford intends to get them certified for medical use. They will also step up manufacture of battery powered, air purification respirators they have worked to develop with 3M.