In a period defined by massive corporate upheaval at Ford Motor Company in the wake of the firing of Ford CEO Mark Fields last year. More shock-waves emanated out of Dearborn, MI earlier today with Ford’s announcement that it has fired President of Ford North America Raj Nair over allegations of “inappropriate behavior.”
It’s not clear what Nair did that led to his sudden departure from the company, but Ford’s statement does reveal that Nair was under investigation for “inappropriate behavior” after allegations were made by an anonymous filer. The investigation uncovered behavior that was “inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct.” Nair’s firing comes after the departures of several high profile business leaders either by voluntary acts or firings for sexual misconduct, though it is too early to determine if that indeed occur with Nair.
‘We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration,” stated Ford CEO Jim Hackett in a separate statement. “Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values.”
Nair for his part apologized, though he did not elaborate on the events that led up to this decision.
‘I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused” Nair said in Ford’s official statement.
No formal replacement has been announced, but prior to today’s events, Nair had been at the helm of Ford’s U.S. operations since June of 2017 when he assumed the role a short time after the firing of Ford CEO Mark Fields in May of 2017. Prior to this he was the head of global product development as well as a chief technical officer in Ford’s ranks.
With the mid-size pickup truck market seeing a resurgence in relevance after years of steady decline, automakers are more focused than ever at delivering a new wave of affordable pickup truck options. Chevrolet and GMC lead the way with the revamped Colorado and Canyon, and sold more than 145,000 units combined for the 2016 model year. This wave of success helped jump start the Ranger’s long journey back into the U.S. market after a long absence.
The last iteration of Ranger left the U.S. back in 2011, and loyalists were incensed at Ford’s decision to axe it. However, that Ranger was left to stagnate prior to its demise, and was known more for its antiquity than offering anything modern to consumers. While it was gone from our shores, its international market sibling began racking up sales abroad especially in Asia, Europe, and New Zealand. Naturally, Ford chose to retain much of that version’s charm, but made several revisions to help it be able to adapt to stricter U.S. regulations. A fully boxed ladder frame with six cross members makes up the bones that hold up this beast of burden together. While the frame may appear to be a mere duplicate of its global cousin’s, Ford revealed that several major revisions were made mostly in regards to safety. Engineers reinforced the front and the rear of the frame to help create a sturdy mounting location for the front and rear steel bumpers, as well as other revisions to help it comply with U.S. crash tests. Ford revealed that it will also offer an optional integrated trailer hitch receiver for buyers that want to have some towing chops to go with their Ranger sized purchase.
Unlike the bigger F-150 and its heavy duty cousins, the 2019 Ranger bucks Ford’s recent push for aluminium extensive construction, and arrives with a mostly steel body with the aluminum hood and tailgate standing out as the lone exceptions. Engineers also made an effort to tighten and create more consistent panel gaps than the global version and it features a revised front fascia with U.S. market exclusive lighting elements. Short overhangs help ensure good approach angles front and rear, though we expect the rumored “Raptor” variant to cater to buyers that aim to formally rock crawl on challenging off-road trails. Monotube dampers are mounted at all four corners, with a control arm style front suspension complimenting the rear live axle setup.
Wheras its predecessor had two engine offerings, Ford is keeping things simple when it comes to performance, with all 2019 Rangers coming equipped with Ford’s 2.3 liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine. No V6 option will be offered, and Ford did not discuss Ranger performance figures in today’s release. But this engine also sees duty in the Ford Explorer and Mustang, so look for potential figures to reside roughly at the 300 horsepower mark, with 345 to 350 lb-ft of torque on tap. The 10-speed automatic is the same unit that is mounted to the F-150, but engineers were forced to use a smaller case to help it fit into the Ranger’s more compact layout. Buyers will be able to choose from either rear or four wheel drive, with the latter option featuring a two speed transfer case with 4Low 4 High and 2 High capability. An optional electronically controlled differential will also be available as an option on select models.
At launch the 2019 Ford Ranger will arrive in FX2 and FX4 guise with both models getting the fore-mentioned electronic diff as standard equipment, as well as other off-road grade goodies including all-terrain tires, off-road oriented dampers, steel skid plates, and plenty of FX badges. While designed for off road adventures, both models have the same ride height, with Ford claiming that it designed the entire Ranger lineup to qualify as “high riders.” Naturally, FX4 models push the envelope further, and come equipped with a Terrain Management system that features four modes (Normal, Grass, Gravel and Snow.) Each mode tailors the transmission shift points, throttle response, as well as the traction and stability control systems to help the Ranger adapt to all kinds of terrain. A new Trail Control system allows the truck to utilize cruise control-esque features for off-road driving, and even allows drivers to tap on the brake pedal to set a lower speed without turning the system off.
The trim level hierarchy is also refreshingly simple, and will be familiar to hardcore Ford loyalists, especially pickup truck buyers. Like the F-150, XL trim serves as the entry level Ranger trim, with XLT and Lariat versions gradually adding more luxury features to the Ranger’s bag of tricks. The 2019 Ranger will launch with eight different exterior color options as well as eight different wheel designs in 17 and 18-inch sizes. LED head and tail lights are on the options list along with puddle lamps, in box cargo lighting, and Ford’s Smart Trailer tow connector system that alerts drivers to potential issues with the wiring of their trailer.
The Ranger’s interior has been significantly overhauled, and buyers that were familiar with the old Ranger’s functional but decidedly crude interior will be blown away by what they see. The cabin can now house five occupants, and features under seat storage in the rear, as well as dual LCD info screens in the instrument panel. The optional SYNC 3 infotainment system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Ford’s Ford+Alexa personal -assistant functionality, optional navigation software, and an 8.0 inch center mounted color touchscreen. Reflecting Ford’s drive to be a mobility based company, 4G LTE connectivity with support for up to 10 devices is optional, with AC power units, and a B&O Play premium audio system also joining the options list.
Safety is also a virtue in the 2019 Ford Ranger, and buyers will be pleased to hear that Automated emergency braking is standard across the lineup with Lane departure warning, Lane keep assist, and blind spot monitoring with trailer coverage making their appearance on XLT and above models. Look for these items to allow the Ranger to be on par with the Colorado/Canyon in this area, and it also reflects the progress that Ford has made since the demise of the original Ranger.
While the Ranger was tailored more towards off-road enthusiasts versus traditional commercial buyers, we still expect it to resonate well with small businesses, especially those that want capability, but need a smaller package than the F-150 to achieve these goals. Look for the 2019 Ford Ranger to hit showrooms in early 2019, with more information being revealed closer to its formal launch.
Change is in the air at Lincoln, with the brand’s lineup now largely updated for the 2018 model year, Lincoln has moved on to the task of eliminating its dated Mark based naming scheme. It has a long way to go, but the resurgent luxury car maker has gotten off to a good start with the surprise unveiling of the 2019 Nautilus CUV.
Undoubtedly inspired by Jules Verne and the submarine of the same name that made its appearance in Twenty Thousand Leauges Under The Sea, this land based Nautilus ventures into a new era for Lincoln. The exterior styling of the Nautilus is a tasteful update of the current MKX with the front fascia embracing a new grille and headlights. These changes look more upscale than before, and are a noticeable improvement over the old winged grille. The rear fascia is more restrained, but the clear look tail lights are a nice touch.
The interior of the Nautilus is a sleek and elegant space with the dashboard dominated by a 12.3 inch digital gauge cluster, while the hand stitched leather wrapped steering wheel and Lincoln’s shift by wire push select transmission preserves the brand’s core traits. Occupants will also be pleased with the 22-way adjustable Ultra Comfort leather seats that promise to create a sitting position that is both comfortable and beneficial, especially for the driver.
The Nautilus also comes with beefy performance credentials to backup its svelte looks. No, it cannot send electric jolts through certain species of Giant Squid, but this Nautilus still manages to jolt the senses thanks to its two available engines. A 2.0 liter four cylinder engine is standard issue and is good for a healthy 245 horsepower, but buyers looking for more performance can opt for the 2.7 liter turbocharged V6 that brings 335 horsepower and an equally stout 380 lb-ft of torque to the open road. Both engines are mated to an eight speed automatic, and are paired with fuel saving Stop/Start technology, as well as available front or all-wheel drive.
Lincoln’s decision to pitch the Mark naming scheme was mainly due to the big updates that all of their models have received (especially the Nautilus) as well as name retention in the minds of potential buyers. Lincoln execs also confirmed that new names will be coming for the two remaining Mark named holdouts the MKZ and the popular MKC crossover, but we expect that to not take place for a few more years.
Pricing information was not released, but look for pricing to not venture too far from the current MKX which starts at $38,260 and went all the way up to $45,560 depending on trim level and options. It will be interesting to see how the new name will affect sales in the long term, but we’re confident that the 2019 Nautilus will still be a top choice in the large luxury CUV segment.
The 2018 Ford Mustang already has shaken the muscle car world thanks to its slew of updates which aim to refine the car even further. While more style and comfort are welcome features, Ford’s performance updates are causing quite the stir.
The tweaked 5.0 liter V8 now produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque which is a notable upgrade over the old engine. The engine benefits from an all new “Drag Strip” mode which helps trim the 0 to 60 time to a swift four seconds flat. This is mainly due to the drag mode tweaking the shifting and power delivery from the 10-speed automatic transmission, which reduces excess wheel slip.
“Typically when you shift gears you give up time” stated Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann. “In drag mode, the engine’s torque doesn’t drop when you shift.” To illustrate this point, Widmann claimed that drag mode made the Mustang faster off the line than the $94,000 Porsche 911 Carrera (an impressive claim indeed.)
The company didn’t leave EcoBoost buyers out to dry with these updates, and has transferred some of the GT’s magic to the four cylinder version of the Mustang. Power is up to 310 horsepower, with torque increasing by 30 lb-ft to a revised 350 lb-ft. When equipped with the 10-speed and the forementioned drag mode, the four cylinder can make the sprint to 60 mph in five seconds.
Ford is opening up ordering for the 2018 Ford Mustang this week, with the first units arriving at Ford showrooms shortly after.
In a move that aims to address a recent slide in Ford’s core automobile shares, The company is set to formally oust CEO Mark Fields, and also shuffle three other excecs in an effort to create a new corporate structure, according to those familiar with the situation.
Jim Hackett the chief of Ford’s autonomus vehicle program will assume full control from Fields, with the company poised to make an announcement later today.
The departure of Fields comes amid a 40 percent slide in Ford’s share price, and slower than expected progress in the development of mobility solutions. This is in contrast to when Fields first took the reigns three years ago from Alan Mually, and promised to bring newfound vigor and vibrancy to Ford’s corporate operations.
Fields departure also comes after he was viciously criticized by investors and members of Ford’s board two weeks ago for the company’s deteriorating financial results. Fields appeared to try and address these failures by cutting 1,400 salaried jobs in the company, but that wasn’t enough to curb the damage that was already done.
Hackett will have plenty of things to do when he formally assumes control of the company. A big project is supercharging Ford’s research into autonomus vehicles. Ford is currently lagging behind larger firms like General Motors, as well as Silicon Valley upstart companies in the race to develop self driving vehicles. Ford originally revealed that it would have a vehicle on the road by 2021, but both GM and Google have beaten Dearborn to the punch with self driving test vehicles.
The strong growth of Tesla in recent years also highlighted how behind Ford was in developing electric vehicles. While the company does have plug-in versions of the Focus and Fusion, the axed Ford C-Max proved to be a sales flop, and Ford still does not have a competitor for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Hackett will also need to address a 25 percent decline in overall sales especially in compact and mid-size cars, with the company making little if any money on the vehicles it does sell. A wave of safety recalls has also focused unwanted attention on vehicle quality.
The departure of Mr. Fields is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, with three other executives expected to be moved as part of the shakeup. Joseph R. Hinrichs head of Ford’s Americas Division will broaden his role, and become executive vice president of global operations. James D. Farley Jr., who currently oversees Ford Europe, will be appointed head of worldwide marketing and sales. Lastly, Marcy Klevorn (Ford’s chief technical officer) will take over Mr. Hackett’s old posistion at the mobility division.
It will be interesting to see if this corporate shakedown will help improve Ford’s long term performance, and also what models could end up on the chopping block as part of any Hackett motivated turn around plan.
The Lincoln Navigator has been the perfect representation of Lincoln’s fortunes in recent years. When it first appeared in 1997, it literally set the luxury SUV segment ablaze with its slick (for the era) styling as well as its copious amounts of luxury.
All seemed well, that is, until the second generation Escalade came along. The big Caddy quickly outpaced the Navigator in sales, and as a result, the big Lincoln (as well as the brand that supported it) fell further and further behind in relevance. Lincoln understands how crucial the Navigator is to its identity, and has pulled out all the stops to make it shine once again.
The exterior styling will be the first thing that many observers will notice when looking at the 2017 Navigator in full detail. Wheras its predecessor had the elegance of a tacky pair of hoop earrings, the latest Navigator embraces an all new design, and the end result is very stunning to look at. The front fascia borrows the mesh grille from the Lincoln Continental and the big Lincoln star emblem softly glows when the driver walks up to it. The light show is part of a multi stage welcoming routine that also illuminates lights in the lower front fascia, taillights, as well as the puddle lamps. The Navigator also features adaptive headlights that vary their intensity depending on vehicle speeds. Like the Expedition, the Navigator features aluminium body panels which help reduce weight, and also increase its fuel economy.
The interior of the Navigator was designed to embody Lincoln’s “Quiet Luxury” principle, and it is a soft lush space, filled with high end materials, and three rows of ambient lighting. Like the Continental, the Navigator can be equipped with Lincoln’s all new 30-way perfect position seats that offer heating, cooling, and massage elements. The second row seats can be equipped either as a full bench or separate captains chairs. Meanwhile, the third row seats feature power recline technology to help free up room for passengers especially bigger ones.
Rear seat occupants also have an extensive suite of entertainment at their disposal thanks to the dual 10.0 inch screens on the front seatbacks. They can play media streamed from paired Android devices while Sling Media users can receive TV channels through the system. Audiophiles will also be pleased to know that the top tier sound system is a potent 20-speaker Revel II system. Lincoln’s Black Label trim plays a key role in the 2018 Navigator and is the top tier offering in the Navigator lineup. In addition to the standard Black Label trim, the Navigator also has two model exclusive Black Label variants that bring unique design touches to the interior.
Performance for the 2018 Navigator comes from a revised version of the 3.5 liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 that Lincoln claims is good for 450 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. These figures are roughly on par with the Ford Raptor, and the Navigator also utilizes the same 10-speed automatic to shunt all that power to either the rear or all four wheels.
It will be interesting to see if all these updates can help brighten the Navigator’s sales fortunes once it enters full production. For perspective, Cadillac sold over 27,000 Escalades last year, while Lincoln only sold 10,000 Navigators despite the old model being $11,000 cheaper than the $78,000 MSRP wielded by the base Escalade.
Ford’s pint sized track terror the Fiesta ST has proven to be a solid sales success thanks to its impressive levels of performance as well as its financially attractive pricing ladder. The Blue Oval aims to continue this successful path with the 2017 Ford Fiesta ST.
A key change is found under the hood of the newly updated hot hatch. Power and overall refinement are up, but the engine drops a cylinder in the process. You heard that correctly, this iteration of the ST is the first ST model to be powered by a three cylinder engine.
The engine also loses a bit of displacement versus the old 1.6 liter, but the 195 horsepower this turbocharged three banger produces is 17 more than the old engine which relied on temporary moments of overboost to achieve its 197 horsepower figure.
Ford claims that the new Fiesta ST will make the sprint to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds which is nearly identical to the outgoing engine. Trque is also the same, but peak torque arrives lower in the rev band than before which should help improve acceleration times slightly. Port and direct injection has been fitted to the engine in an effort to not only reduce C02 emissions, but also cut down on carbon buildup in the valves.
In addition to the new engine, buyers also get to choose from three distinct driving modes Normal, Sport, and Track. Normal mode is, as expected, the setting with full safety net system engaged with Sport and Track modes gradually removing them.
The exterior styling is all new, but the look is still distinctivly Ford, which is good since the company appears to not be trying to mess with a good thing with this redesign. Ford chose to only preview the 3-door version in its press images, but look for the 5-door version to once again be the sole choice for U.S. buyers.
Ford promises higher levels of customization and personalization features for Fiedta buyers with owners being able to customixe trim elements suvh as the gearshift lever, flat bottom steering wheel, and exterior door handles
Look for more information on pricing and other options to gradually roll out in the weeks leading to the ST’s debut in Geneva with more details emerging closer to the ST’s formal launch to dealers worldwide.
While the era of the full-size SUV may appear to be drawing to a close with the prevelance of car based CUVs, Ford still has big plans for this segment, and has unveiled the newly redesigned 2018 Ford Expedition.
The 2018 Expedition is the long awaited replacement for the current generation model, which was in desperate need of updates to stay competitive. The exterior styling has been tightened, and is less bulbous looking than before with all aluminium bodywork helping to shed weight. The end result has a strong resemblance to its rival, the Chevrolet Tahoe, and embraces copious amounts of chrone trim.
Thankfully the slick design also retains key Expedition elements, including its trademark power running boards, beefy tailights, as well as its broad and functional side profile. Wheel sizes are also up, and top tier Expedition models now come equipped with 22 inch wheels (wheras the old model maxed out at 20 inches.) Lower trim models feature 17 inch wheels, and Ford designers did a much better job of hiding the muffler and spare tire versus the old model.
The 2018 Expedition also grows in length with the standard model gaining four inches of length, on top of the three inches that the wheelbase gains. The newly renamed Expedition Max long-wheelbase model (the EL moniker was pitched for 2018) gains one inch in length, but uses the same wheelbase as before.
At the moment, the EL accounts for about 40 percent of Expedition sales, but Ford claims that this figure will shrink with the new model since the standard length version now boasts more cargo space than before.
As mentioned earlier, the 2018 Expedition switches to all aluminium body panels, and this change plays a key role in the Expedition losing 300 lbs of flab. A lighter frame also contributes, and Ford claims that it is much stiffer than before which should reduce flex, and improve overall handling behavior.
A 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is still the only engine choice avalible, and Ford promises it will be more powerful, though the company stopped short of formally revealing output figures for it. Regardless, look for the new engine to be an improvement over the 365 horsepower unit found in the current generation Expedition
The transmission will also gain more gears with the old six speed automatic being replaced by the same 10-speed automatic that also sees duty in the Ford F-150, and the recently unveiled 2018 Mustang. Engine stop/start technology is standard, and buyers can choose from rear or all-wheel drive, with the latter option still incorporating a low range transfer case.
Ford also did not reveal towing figures, but look for it to improve slightly on the 6,500 and 9,200 lb rating wielded by the current generation Expedition lineup. The company’s steer by knob Pro Trailer Backup Assist is avalible as an optional extra to help make life easier for RV and boat owners.
Ford has big plans for the 2018 Ford Mustang and it shows in the tasteful evolution that the company officially unveiled Tuesday morning in events in Los Angeles and Detroit.
The exterior styling has been revised, and is especially noticeable in the front fascia with a heightened rear spoiler highlighting the rear of the car.
That said, the 2018 Ford Mustang’s biggest changes are found in its performance hardware which aim to help it stay ahead of the Chevrolet Camaro. The 3.7 liter V6 has been retired, and the engine lineup is slimmed down to two offerings with lower trims being powered exclusively by the 2.3 liter EcoBoost turbocharged four cylinder.
Meanwhile the 5.0 liter “Coyote” V8 carries over and benefits from a suite of advancements that make it more potent and efficient at the same time. A highlight feature is the “dual fuel” system which makes the engine both direct and port injected. Ford did not release any horsepower estimates, but promises that “[i]t is more powerful and revs higher than any Mustang GT before it.”
Both four cylinder and V8 Mustangs recieve a revised manual transmission that features a twin disc clutch and a dual mass flywheel. The six speed automatic joins the V6 in retirement, and is replaced with the same 10-speed automatic that also sees duty in the 2018 F-150.
In addition, the 10-speed is the first such transmission ever equipped to a Mustang, and is the second production 10-speed currently in the muscle car segment (the 2018 ZL1 Camaro is the first.)
Along with the performance upgrades, Ford engineers also upgraded the Mustangs chassis and even added MagneRide suspension damping to the Mustang’s arsenal of tricks. This neat technology is part of the Performance Package and it can be equipped to both four cylinder and eight cylinder models.
As expected, the interior of the 2018 Mustang carries over largely unchanged, but an all new digital instrument cluster is avalible for the first time as well as pedestrian detection and Pre-collision assist technologies. The rest of the cabin benefits from better soft touch materials, and adds other premium accents to help boost the upscale yet functional vibe the cabin projects.
We look forward to hearing more about the 2018 Ford Mustang soon, and finding out if the new transmission and chassis enhancements allow it to keep ahead of its donestic muscle car rivals the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger.
Keeping upcoming vehicles a secret is becoming harder and harder these days, and thanks to a poorly timed video leak, we now have a good look at the 2018 Ford Mustang.
The leaked b-roll footage was posted on www.mustangg6.com and once you stomach the obviously royalty free soundtrack, it does offer a compelling look at the car. For starters the new front fascia is on full display, and is a droopier affair than before, with more upright fog lamp surrounds and a lightly tweaked grille.
Meanwhile, the rear fascia features equally minor tweaks, and the spoiler switches from an intergrated piece to one that is higher mounted perhaps in a bid to improve downforce on the rear end. The 2018 Mustang featured in the video clip is a GT Performance Package model, and the 5.0 liter badges confirm that the Coyote V8 engine will carry on, at least for the time being. No interior shots were featured in the b-roll, but expect it to largely carryover unchanged.
Look for more information to be revealed over the next few weeks. The 2018 Mustang was originally supposed to be unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show last week, but was scratched at the last minute for unknown reasons.