• Jan 23, 2008
Big product changes are apparently afoot at Ford, with a series of comprehensive goals that will get more people in showrooms while simultaneously trimming costs within the automaker. FoMoCo's group veep of global product development, Derrick Kuzak, spoke at the Automotive News World Congress recently and hit on a number of points that will shape Ford's future.
To begin with, product development, styling changes and technical improvements will be on a three-year cycle, keeping it inline with many of the top tier automakers with which Ford aims to better compete. Recognizing that design is at the forefront of most consumers' minds, Kuzak said that many of the enhancements to Ford's lineup will be design-driven, noting that, "You don't design for the masses; each vehicle has a target audience."

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has talked about the reduction and proliferation of global platforms at length and Kuzak reiterated that utilizing both global architectures and engines is a cornerstone to Ford's resurgence. Kuzak says that by 2012 around 70-percent of Ford vehicles offered worldwide will be built on eight platforms.

Kuzak went on to reconfirm that the Verve is on its way to North America, but don't expect to see it until 2010 at the earliest. He also said that Ford's EcoBoost engine system will be in 43 vehicles in North America in the next four years, making up 500,000 units in NA and almost 750,000 units worldwide. Finally, he also noted that mating the EcoBoost mills with an "electronically shifted manual gearbox" could increase fuel economy by 20-percent and pay for itself in about two-and-a-half years. If that means more dual-clutch gearboxes like the one about to debut on Volvos, then more good things are underway.

[Source: Autoweek]


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  • 43 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I always though the 500/Taurus is a great car. I never drove one but I do like the car. People who have drove them think that they ride good.
      I don`t see why this car got so much flack. I do think it would have been a better replacement as a Crown Victora than the Taurus or a new old name 500.
      The Fusion should have been the new Taurus. The Flex should have sliding doors and marketed as a new minivan. Ford needs to slip a car under the Focus as the Escort once was.
      Ford European/Australian design is better looking than the North American design. The chrome grills on everything look silly. The Fusion looks good with the 3 bar grill, at first it set the Fusion apart from thr rest of the models but not now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      No mention for Australia or Oceania about raising build quality, a focus on customer service and a complete overhaul of the dealer network.

      Guess they don't want to sell many cars down here.

      Dan
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ford - Put up or shut up. If you can get your act together you'll have my money, I'll put it that way.
      • 7 Years Ago
      DKB_SATX @ Jan 23rd 2008 9:23PM wrote: "... on my '80 Capri RS Turbo... The clutch cable broke, which... had not changed appreciably in its feel in the time I'd owned the car..."
      I find it hard to believe that the clutch cable would just break all of a sudden without warning, such as a noticeable change in its feel, especially for someone who claimed to appreciate the touchy-feely aspects of a traditional manual. But more to the point, a Mercury Capri (or any Ford/Mercury for that matter) wasn't a shining example of reliability even compared to its peers in the 1980's era. Even when you regularly do all the proper maintance on your cars, I would still advise you to buy your next car with a better track record for reliability.

      DKB_SATX: "You know less than nothing about my cars, the maintenance of said cars, and you're assuming things not mentioned or presented because they're convenient to you."
      When you provide incomplete information, anyone would be forced to make assumptions. You told me your clutch cable broke with relatively low miles, I assumed it was not a reliable car company and/or the car was not properly maintained, and it turned out I was correct. And I still believe you are not qualified to stand on a soap box and wish other people knew more about their cars, because if you had known more about yours, you would have noticed a change in the feel of your clutch pedal.

      DKB_SATX: "You were wrong... about what was broken (while a clutch is an integral part of the drivetrain of a normal manual-transmission car, it's not part of the transmission..."
      I am willing to participate in discussions of substance about the pros and cons of traditional manuals versus paddle shifters. But I am going to excuse myself from discussions of semantics, in which I don't like to get bogged down.

      DKB_SATX: "While less complex does not always equate to more reliable, I'd wager that over time, comparing reasonably similar vehicles, less-complex conventional manual transmissions will have a reliability advantage for many years to come."
      In contrast, I'd wager a paddle shifter is more reliable than a traditional manual over the years. Why? You never grind your gears with a missed shift, you never rev past redline on purpose or by accident, and you remove a lifetime of user errors and abuses from the transmission.

      DKB_SATX: "... you're welcome to your paddle-shifted automanuals, and if you're buying Ferraris, enjoy your shifting advantages measured in 100ths on a stopwatch. If you can afford a Ferrari and a daily driver, you'll have something to drive while the Ferrari is in the shop... I'll smile if I pass you on the side of the road..."
      Here we go again, a stick enthusiast spreading more myths about paddle shifters:
      • Manual transmissions with paddle shifting are available in many different cars, from the reasonably priced (around the $30K's), to the exotics (Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc). As a result of the price spread, paddle shifters are well within the financial reach of the average Joe.
      • A well-engineered car with a well-engineered paddle shifter does not mean more repairs, when properly maintained as any car should be. It can even reduce the need for repairs, by removing user errors such as missed shifts and revs past redline.
      • A paddle shifter is not merely about a barely noticeable performance improvement in the real world. It also removes the need to operate a third pedal, allowing the driver to focus on the road and traffic conditions. What some call driver engagement in the operation of a third pedal, others call driver distraction.

      DKB_SATX: "My point, and I think the point of many others, is that I like a manual transmission and want them to continue to be available."
      You know, if stick enthusiasts would consistently stick to that message, I would not have bothered to enter the discussion. But when you are the one standing on a soapbox and spreading myths about paddle shifters, don't be too surprised if someone points out you are wrong.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Please pardon the double post.
        • 7 Years Ago
        DKB_SATX: Let's be honest. Regardless of who made the purchase of your 1980 Capri, American cars back in the 80's and 90's (including FoMoCo) were not known for their reliability, which was a big reason why car buyers avoided buying American in droves. This, among other reasons, explains why the Big 3 experienced declining market share, which they are finally about to rectify with high-quality cars and good reliability. My advice still stands: Buy a car with a good track record for reliability. The only difference is, whereas I used to recommend Japanese cars only, nowadays I also recommend American cars.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I won't repost my entire final post about your anti-manual-transmission screeds (see above), but I neglected to point out in response to your snide, childish "suggestion" about the quality of cars I might buy, that I did not buy the Capri. It was a gift to me from my parents, and I took damned good care of it and drove it for nine low-problem years.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'll believe it when they actually bring out a new product that is not based on a platform they have had for a decade. To Ford in the US slapping a new bumber on a car is a full product change.

      The Focus is a joke. When you've been able to buy a better car based on a Ford platform for 4 years in the US already, Mazda 3, it is inexcusable to continue and use the original platform for the car. The Fusion is just a Mazda 6 which is now getting a full makeover. Maybe in 6 years the Fusion will use the new Mondeo platform.

      Ford is an entire generation behind in all its cars in the USA. In the case of the Focus it is two generations behind. They have to skip thier next generation and go right to the cars they intend to bring out in 2012 just to match what the competition has lined up for 08 and 09.

      To match up all they have to do is transplant the entire European lineup to the US. If it costs them 10 billion dollars to retool then it is what they have to do. If they don't the only place Ford is going in the US is out of business. Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai are leaving Ford so far behind they won't ever be able to catch up.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The problem is that when they do that, they will undoubtedly make the cars larger, less agile, with heavy V-6/V-8 engines and large flat seats for American asses.
        • 7 Years Ago
        i agree, platform sharing is not the same as rebadging

        to say that the fusion is a bad car because it is basically a dumbed down mazda 6 is wrong on virtually all points. it is a good car.

        the focus is an embarrassment, sync being the only possible reason anyone should buy such an awful car. it was so painfully obvious that we should have gotten the new focus when Europe did.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Cowbell why don't you just admit that you just don't yet get it?

        What you are talking about is totally irrelevant to what Iridium was mentioning.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Can we put a moratorium on people saying one car is the same as another because they are based off the same platform? Is the Sienna just a Camry because they share a platform?

        The Fusion and Mazda are different lengths, weights, different HP engines, assembled in different countries.

        The Fusion and Milan... feel feel to say they are the same car.
          • 7 Years Ago
          Yeah, the 6 is assembled in the US, and the Fusion is assembled in Mexico.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well said.

        In fact i mentioned something similar in the last post I made about the Transport possibly coming to NA.

        You are absolutely right and Ford needs to fire these talking monkeys and actually start 1 by 1 importing all of the Euro models here and leaving them unchanged in style, that's if they actually do care about the consumers instead of just lining their pocketbook.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd like to hear from a real expert about exactly why Ford's previous 'world car' attempts failed in one way or another over the last 30 years, and why they keep trying to, so far, no results.

      - Fiesta
      - Escort (well, this was only in name; IIRC its 'world car' status never made it through the original planning)
      - Mondeo/Contour
      - Focus
      Anything else? I'm not going to count the Merkurs here. Capri? I don't think it was ever intended as a 'world car.'

      I (or anyone else) can speculate all day, but I'm curious about what the reality is, and whether or not those factors are something that can actually be overcome, by Ford or anyone else.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If they do go through dropping the NA ranger they could at least import the Euro Ranger with the diesel engine (Duratorq)
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Transit Connect is just the start for the migration of Euro platforms/vehicles. In the other post ppl are dogging the TC because they don't understand what the market is for it. It'll be used as a light duty work van and sold mostly to fleet accounts. It will be the successor to the Crown Vic as the taxi vehicle of choice. It won't be a big retail (personal use) vehicle. It's not being brought over for that market as it's main target. The Transit (big brother) will probably follow (though E-series vans still rule the commercial van market despite the Sprinter making inroads).

      If there's anything wrong with this move to global platforms, it's that it can't happen fast enough.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why not have planned cosmetic changes EVERY year?

      I know, your thinking resale value, right? Well with that thinking you would never redesign a vehicle.

      I say you need to generate yearly excitement on all the models. You can do it on the cheap with planning.

      A grille change here, a tail light change there. You know how to do it. People want the latest model, this pushes them to BUY!

      Refining a car each year is great, but flaunt it!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yea that's what they did with the mustang and it has gotten a little old. I love mustangs but the changes are so small I could do it cheaper in front of my house.
      • 7 Years Ago
      How about a real manual tranny with them?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Thank you naggs! If I want a tranny to shift for me Ill buy an auto. I dont buy it for the preformance I but it for the feel.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Icon149 @ Jan 23rd 2008 5:46PM wrote: "Cars need to have 3 pedals, I don't care about performance... I care about something that is fun to drive... not just having an appliance."

        First, fun is a subjective term. Your personal definition for fun is just as valid as someone else's personal definition for fun. Your choice of a foot-operated clutch for fun, is just as valid as my choice of a hand-operated clutch for fun, is just as valid as someone else's choice of a clutchless automatic for fun.

        Second, since when was a Ferrari, a Lambo, or a Bugatti an appliance? For someone who claims not to care about performance, you are the last person qualified to call any car an appliance.

        I respect stick enthusiasts' choice of transmission as much as they respect my choice of paddle shifters. But call them "appliances" that are "not real", and I will remind you:
        • Some of the world's finest sports cars, from the Enzo Ferrari to the Lamborghini Reventon to the Bugatti Veyron, only offers paddle shifters to the exclusion of the traditional stick.
        • Formula One and IndyCar racing has some of the most skillful drivers in the world, and they race with paddle shifters, not the traditional stick.
        • Driving with a traditional stick doesn't make anyone a real man. Only a woman can do that.
        • 7 Years Ago
        DKB_SATX: I'm sorry you feel the way you do. Truth be told, I tried hard to see things the way you do, and of all the things you wrote, the only things that made sense to me were:
        • Some people like the subjective feel of a clutch. I don't have a problem with people's personal preferences.
        • A traditional manual has less weight than a paddle shifter. Technically, this is true. I didn't want to mention this earlier, but when I looked at the specs for the Audi R8, the weight difference is only 11 lbs, or 0.3% (3605 vs 3616 lbs). Hardly the performance penalty you had implied.

        Like I said, I have no problem with stick enthusiasts and their personal preference for the traditional manual. I do have a problem with guys like you who spread myths to slander something others enjoy. And you kept mentioning how reliable your stick shift was from way back in 1980, and how unreliable modern paddle shifters must be due to their complexity, without ever considering how the electronic nanny-safeguard could save your transmission and your engine from damage due to mis-shifts and over-revving. Next time, tell us how much you enjoy your stick shift without unnecessary myths, and I won't bother to join the discussion and rain on your parade. I can extend at least that courtesy to you and your fellow stick enthusiasts. Have a nice day.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ah, RocketBreath... you love to point out the fact that exotic, expensive cars that no one depends upon for actual transportation (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti) have lots of automated paddle-shifted transmissions as the reason we should all want one in our daily drivers. (You also like to conveniently leave out sections of others' posts to make it look like one thing they said relates to another when it doesn't, as I just learned in the above reference you posted back to Tina Turner's LM002, but that's another issue.)

        It's not like a Ferrari is practical or affordable to own. If its AutoManual needs to be serviced, Claudio at the Ferrari shop will be glad to fix it for you, his kids need braces and college tuition, after all. You of course will ignore practicality as you ignored my comment about the ability to convince a manual to limp home more readily than an AutoManual... you as much as stated that my car with the snapped clutch cable must have been abused or poorly maintained, when in fact it had about 130k relatively trouble-free miles when the clutch cable gave up.

        You're welcome to buy your flappy paddles. I certainly prefer them to a conventional automatic with a sloppy torque converter, but I like the direct feel and control of a GOOD fully-manual transmission and clutch. Comparing a reliable, straightforward clutch and manual transmission with a Model T is a cheap, deceptive and disingenuous attempt to obscure the real issue, and if I thought you actually believed there was some valid comparison there (rather than baiting on the internet as you were probably doing) I'd think you didn't understand something about manual transmissions.

        I don't want to see good manual transmissions go away. I'm not likely to be buying a Ferrari anytime soon, but lots of the cars I might otherwise consider have slushboxes only these days, and that's sad. If flappy paddles bring about fewer torque converters, they could be a good development. If more people knew how their car actually worked and were a little more in tune with what was happening, something that seems to come naturally when you are controlling more aspects of the car's operation, I think that would be an even better thing.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well, I'm done with you in this forum at least. You'll undoubtedly post something after, thinking that he who posts last wins. It seems that your own point of view is all that you care about, and no other view is possible. You're also an absolute ass about your idiotic assertions that someone you've never met, driving a car you've never seen much less examined in detail and the service record of which you know very little about must have been poorly maintained because you wish that to be the truth, lie that it is. Because I maintained my Capri very well (my father was a mechanic and taught me a great deal) I was able to use my Capri for reliable transportation long after most of the 2.3 Turbos of the era had given up the ghost. Not because it was some paragon of reliability, but because it was well maintained.

        I'm guessing you don't even own a car with an automanual, or you might have mentioned something about it. Pine on for your paragon of perfection and I hope you enjoy it when you eventually buy one. Since you don't care about the opinion of others, I'll stop caring about yours in this thread.
        • 7 Years Ago
        naggs @ Jan 23rd 2008 4:33PM wrote: "if it does not have 3 pedals, i will not even look at it"

        Then you might want to cover your eyes from the Enzo Ferrari, the Lamborghini Reventon, the Bugatti Veyron, Formula One racing, and IndyCar racing. None of the above uses a foot-operated third pedal. From a performance standpoint, the paddle-shifting manual transmission is superior.

        BTW, even if Ford completely stopped to offer the traditional manual in its vehicles, it's not as if it would miss out on a whole lot of sales. Domestic and global consumer demand has strongly favored automatics (and even paddle shifters) over the traditional manual. See article below.

        Link:
        http://www.autoblog.com/2007/02/12/automatics-to-exceed-manuals-worldwide-in-2007/
        • 7 Years Ago
        Cars need to have 3 pedals, I don't care about performance i don't care about 0-60 times, I care about something that is fun to drive, about being a part of the machine, not just having an appliance.

        More clutch pedals please!
        • 7 Years Ago
        A manual transmission that uses shift paddles behind the steering wheel is just as real as a manual transmission that uses a foot-operated clutch. And before we rehash another foot-clutch-vs-hand-paddle debate, it has all been discussed earlier, see below.

        http://www.autoblog.com/2008/01/21/private-dancer-tina-turner-s-mercedes-powered-lambo-lm002/#comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      "design is at the forefront of most consumers' minds"
      Did they hire a teamof monkeys to fugure this out?
      shesh...
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