The lab will have 125 engineers, researchers and scientists by the end of the year. It's located in the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, CA, and will allow Ford to broaden its work with Stanford University. One of the initial projects will involve university researchers conducting more tests on a Fusion Hybrid autonomous vehicle.
Ford has had an office in Silicon Valley since 2012 and more expansion is planned, the company said. Apple engineer Dragos Maciuca, who has an extensive background in semiconductors, consumer electronics, aerospace and automotive, joined Ford to lead the new lab.
"It's so important for us to grow our presence in Silicon Valley because as you think about where we're heading as an auto company and a mobility company, technology and technology in the vehicles is going to be an important piece of that," Ford CEO Mark Fields said.
"Here in Silicon Valley we want to be viewed as part of the community. We want to be viewed as part of the eco system here in Silicon Valley because it's a marketplace of ideas."
Ford also has advanced research centers at its base in Dearborn, MI, and Aachen, Germany.
Palo Alto is the home of electric carmaker Tesla Motors, which has grown rapidly in the last decade and has drawn praise for its innovation. The area has attracted other automakers looking to capitalize on its talent and research capabilities. Nissan, Volkswagen and Hyundai are among the car companies that also have presences in Silicon Valley.
The expanded footprint in Silicon Valley is the latest high-profile research project from Ford, which announced plans earlier in January to team with the Department of Energy and DowAksa to develop manufacturing techniques for mainstream carbon-fiber production.
Other News And Notes
Ferraris propel record sales at Arizona auctions
The week kicked off on a high note as auction houses tallied a record $292.8 million in sales at the Arizona events, according to Hagerty Insurance. It's an 18-percent increase compared with 2014, and more than 1,600 cars were sold.
The top seller was a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, which went for $9.6 million at an RM Auctions event, and set a record for the most expensive car sold during the Arizona auctions. A 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione was right behind, selling for $9.4 million at a Bonhams event, and eight of the top 11 sales in Arizona were Ferraris. Barrett-Jackson was the top-selling company, pulling in $131.9 million based on the strength of 1,599 lots sold. RM was No. 2, netting $63.7 million on 114 lots sold. Though cars were the main attraction, paintings, motorcycles and other memorabilia were also sold at the auctions.
Jeff Gordon says 2015 will be his last as a full-time driver
Jeff Gordon announced Thursday that 2015 will be his final season as a full-time NASCAR driver. Gordon, 43, is a four-time champion and his 92 victories rank third all-time behind Hall-of-Fame drivers Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). Gordon's success in the 1990s coincided with the rise of NASCAR's popularity, and he has remained competitive deep into his career, finishing sixth in the driver standings last season.
Gordon wouldn't call the announcement a retirement and said he would still consider driving in some events after the 2015 season. He's also a part owner of Hendrick Motorsports, which he has driven for since 1992.
"I won't use the 'R-word' because I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there's always the possibility I'll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that," he said in a statement.
Mercedes C-Class coupe spied
Mercedes-Benz has a sexy C-Class coupe in the works, and we've caught it testing on the roads around Stuttgart, Germany. The car is likely to be lower, wider and more athletic than the four-door when it debuts later this year. As expected, the coupe shares styling cues with its well-received sedan sibling that launched in September, and both models are more sculpted and creased than their predecessors. Naturally, the new coupe has a bit more flair than the sedan, especially in the back. Expect the coupe to use the sedan's powerplants, the turbocharged four-cylinder and the biturbo V6.