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Ford Ranger 2011

Ford markets the Ford Ranger 2011 as the driver’s answer not just for highway driving but for off road adventures as well. The latest version improves on the last Ranger that has been issued. For the latest version of the pickup, enthusiasts and the drivers can count on a number of practical and helpful features, well-positioned controls and other convenient interior accessories that makes driving convenient and relaxing no matter how long the drive hours will be. The latest version of the Ranger is available in four models. Consumers can start with the well-appointed XL or they can always go for the high-end Wildtrak and there are three available cab configurations to choose from. Each of these models that are available in the market offers the drivers and the occupants with different degrees of relaxation and comfort.

A check with the interior of the 2011 Ford Ranger reveals convenience at its finest. The seats are fitted with hard wearing new fabric, thus these seats can be expected to last for a long time. Entertainment system has been noted by Ford as the Ranger comes with an integrated CD, radio and MP3 audio system. If the XLT is chosen, then the driver can expect more convenience with the introduction of the air conditioning system, high-end 6-CD/mp3 audio system that features aux-in connection and all that jazz and colors that ensure car-like comfort. Another trim that can be selected is the Thunder which offers two-tone black leather seats, a foot well and lighting on the rear passenger seat. But when it comes to top end trim, then the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is the obvious selection. The interior provides ample space and comfort is defined by the selection of perforated Alcantara seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and the gear shift knob.

Performance-wise, the Ranger is packed with high-performing diesels. This series from Ford is fitted with the 2.5 liter Duratorq TDCi diesel engine. Thanks to this engine, the vehicle is allowed to deliver responsive acceleration and better than average fuel consumption. Drivers are given the choice between the manual transmission and the 5-speed automatic transmission. But if these features are not enough, then the choice should be the ‘Wildtrak’ since this comes with the 3.0 liter Duratorq TDCi engine.

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GM to cut 47,000 jobs this year

General Motors is set to cut 47,000 jobs and plans to seek up to $30 billion aid and this move by GM is just another testament to how bad the future of General Motors look. It is also part of the plan of General Motors to idle five more US factories. All these moves are part of General Motors’ massive restructuring plan. The carmaker is the recipient of the $13.4 billion in federal loans and it plans to seek another $16.6 billion the moment the economic fails to get back on track. In a news report, it added that General Motors can achieve its profitability in two years time and can fully repay its loans by 2017. The company’s plan was submitted to the Obama administration for review. General Motors is also working to win concessions form United Auto Workers and the bond holders of the company in order to effectively re-size the company. The UAW also had talks with Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co. and said that it had reached a tentative deal on contract changes. Still based on reports, there are still discussions on how the companies will fund the union-run trust funds that will take the companies’ healthcare obligations for the retireees for next year. General Motors’ brand will be down to four last December- Chevy, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. And GMC is considering the sales of Hummer.

Ford Fusion as new alternative

We all know Toyota Prius- it’s the car that we usually associate with the words fuel-efficient and green vehicle. Well based on the latest Yahoo write-up, it seems that Toyoya Prius has some company and a better one at that. Enter Ford Fusion hybrid. According to USA Today, the 2010 Ford Fusion is the best gasoline-electric hybrid yet. This can be a sweeping statement that can knock Prius off its wheels. According to the paper, the Ford Fusion is known for its smooth ride and best-integrated gas-electric power system. The cost? Well, this car is pegged at $107,000 and according to the paper the Lexus LS 600h hybrid comes in next.

Chrysler suspends production

Chrysler LLC suspends US production for at least a month. Could  this be an indication that indeed the company and the other two big auto companies are bleeding inside?

In a report posted over at CNN.com, the 30 plants of the company will close after the last shift on Friday and the employees were told not to return to work before January 19 next year. In this latest move, the company put the blame on the continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer for the continued downward spiral movement of the sales not just for Chrysler but for other auto companies. Normally, the company shuts down its operation starting December 24 and will usually lasts til January 5. But this time, circumstances are different.

Chrysler LLC is not the only automaker that has decided to suspend operations for the first month next year. General Motors also announced last year that it will be idling 30 percent of its North American plants for the first quarter of 2009. Ford also made a move and indicated thru a spokeswoman that the company is adding a week to its normal two-week seasonal and normal shutdown.

Ford ends Mazda control

Ford Motor Company will end its 12 years of control on Mazda Motor Corporation through the sale of its 20 percent stake in the company. The latest move by the US carmaker is the latest sign in the block that the Big Three in the United States are all scrambling to raise cash. Ford first invested in Mazda stocks in 1979.

Mazda in a statement said that it would buy back 6.87 percent of its own shares from Ford for up to $185 million. More than 20 business partners will purchase the remaining 13 percent. The moves by Ford, Chrysler LLC and General Motors in recent weeks are a manifestation that the industry is reeling from slowing sales. These companies agree that this could be the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

As part of the ownership change, Mazda said that two board members would return to Ford. The current Mazda Chief Executive Hisakazu Imaki, the first Japanese CEO after a string of four Ford executives will cede his post to another executive vice president. When the sale is completed, Ford Motor Company will raise $538 million. In a statement, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said that this will allow Ford to raise capital that will help fund the company’s product-led transformation and will allow Ford and Mazda to continue their successful strategic relationship.

Ford F-150: No Longer US No.1 Vehicle?

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For more than 26 years now, the Ford F-150 pick-up of Ford Motors was considered as the best-selling vehicle, car or truck in the country. But this year, some things will definitely change. The pick-up is about to lose its top position to Toyota Camry, thus ceding its crown to the Toyota model as the best-selling vehicle, car or truck in the country. Since 1981, there is no passenger car, foreign or domestic that has outsold the F-150 or its ancestors for a full year. Within that time span, only a couple of single months were noted wherein the Chevy Silverado or the Ford Taurus has outsold the F-Series pick-up, partly due to incentives. So will this be the year where Ford F-150 will cede its post to a new-comer?

The May sales figures made this official. Based on some data, the Ford sold 42,972 F-Series trucks in May topped by Toyota Corolla at 52,826 and the Toyota Camry at 51,291. The Honda Civic on the other hand outsold both Toyota with 53,299 units.

Quality Leaders: Ford and Toyota

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Based on the surveys and research conducted by Strategic Vision, Toyota and Ford tied for leading in the most segments on the Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index. Both companies saw their models top three segments each. Toyota Motors lead with their Yaris for the small car segment, the 4Runner for the medium SUV and the Toyota Sequioa for the large SUV segment. Ford on the other hand sends Edge to top the medium crossover segment, the Mustang Convertible for convertibles under $30,000.00 and the Ford F-250/350 for the heavy-duty pickup segment. The survey done by Strategic Vision featured 19 different segments. Aside from the six already mentioned, the other segments include the small multi-function, medium car, the large car, the small specialty under $25,000.00, the near luxury car, the luxury car, convertibles over $30,000.00, minivan, small SUV, the near luxury SUV, the luxury SUV, the standard pickup and the large pickup. Aside from the noted winners from both Ford and Toyota, the results also net added leaders for the two companies. For Toyota Motor Sales, added leaders are the Scion xB and the Lexus RX 350 and for Ford on the other hand, its for the Mercury Sable and the VOlvo C30.

The Total Quality Index of Strategic Vision is considered as the premier measure of the new vehicle owner satisfaction. Buyers of these vehicles are asked to rate all aspects of their ownership experience that starts from buying and owning to performance and driving.

If the results provided for by Strategic Vision will be by brand, then BMW leads all brands, followed closely by Hummer, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Land Rover, Cadillac, Lincoln and Volkswagen.  By corporation count, Volkswagen AG leads all corporation with a total quality index score of 892 out of the possible 1,000 points. General Motors finished second as a corporation at 867 and GM is followed by Ford Motor and Honda that tied at 862. Toyota Motors gets the fifth slot with a score of 860, the industry average. The industry average actualy dropped. The figure was pegged at 864 in 2007. The decline, it was explained was because some vehicles fell short of the customer’s technology expectations.

The Total Quality Index score that is presented on the report was calculated from the responses of 20,655 buyers who bought 2008 models in September, October and November of 2007. Strategic Vision has been presenting the survey results annually since 1995.

Ford Sees Market Realities

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Looks like the high price of gas is here to stay. And Ford sees the writings on the wall. The demand for their vehicles have been going down, no thanks to escalating gas prices. It’s a market shift they say, and Ford says that it is scaling down its production. A big reversal after the company has announced a surprising first quarter profits. But it isn’t just Ford who feels the pinch of the times. General Motors and Chrysler also saw their market affected. This is because these two companies heavily relies on profits delivered by their trucks and SUVs. The changing face of the market saw a diminished popularity for SUVs and trucks as consumers find ways to address escalating gas prices. Ford said that they would drastically scale back production and step-up cost-cutting efforts in response to the sharp drops in sales and sport utility vehicles. Ford has now forecasted that the industry demand for cars and light trucks will stand at 14.7 million 10 15.1 million vehicles and this figure is considered as the lowest in more than a decade. Alan Mullaly, chief executive of Ford said that they saw a real change in the industry demand in pickups and SUVs in the first two months of May. He added that this seems to be a tipping point. One indicator of the market performance is the sales of pickups. Pickup sales are closely tied to housing and construction activity. Last year the sales of pickups accounted to 14 percent of the US market, but this year the figure is down to 9 percent.

As a response, Ford will cut down its North American production by 15 percent in the current quarter, as well as 15 to 20 percent in the third quarter and 2 to 8 percent in the fourth quarter. Though production of pickups and SUVs will be cut, it is expected that Ford will increase its output of more fuel-efficient models like the Focus and the Fusion.

2008 Ford Expedition

FORD 2008 EXPEDITION

It’s presence cannot be brushed aside on the road. In fact its hefty size and its simple yet luxurious design is sure to get second glances on the road. I am talking about one of my fave SUV out there, the Ford Expedition. In fact this isn’t really an ordinary SUV that you see on the road, this is Ford’s flagship SUV. This is an SUV that features both power and comfort and put safety atop of its list. But then there’s a little drawback. Just like other SUVs out there, the Ford Expedition consumes a great amount of fuel. In fact the vehicle registers 12 mpg for the base model of the Expedition. Not a great vehicle to use if you would want a long distance drive the whole day. But taking this aside, the Expedition is one brawny and safe vehicle on and off the road.

Safety is one attribute that this SUV is proud of. The Safety Canopy System with rollover sensor is a standard and so does the AdvanceTrac and the 4-Wheel ABS. The standard AdvanceTrac with the RSC or the Roll Stability Control is actually a class exclusive and is included on the SUV as a standard. What the AdvanceTrac does on the vehicle is to effectively monitors the driver input, the road conditions and the slippage as well so as to deliver the right torque at the opportune time. The RSC system on the other hand is the one that measures the roll motion, applies the individual ABS brakes and in the process reduce the torque as well. The Safety Canopy is another great safety standard on the SUV. This system features 2nd generation side curtain airbags that can enhance interior protection in all three rows. What this means to you is that whenever an impact or an accident to occur, the vehicle has got you covered thru the Canopy system. This SUV is powered by the 5.4L Triton V8 engine. This engine can deliver 300 horsepower and 365 lb.-ft of torque. With this great power comes great towing capabilities as well. The power that is carried by the SUV actually gives the car a maximum 9,200-lb towing capacity when the vehicle is equipped with the available Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package.

The claim of the manufacturer that the Ford Expedition is a safe SUV is actually validated by the NHTSA rating. This SUV netted the highest 5-star rating for the past eight years. This is the highest frontal test rating for the drive and the right front passenger that was given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the NHTSA. The extended-length version of the Expedition that was introduced in 2007 also earned the same ratings.

What’s in Store for Jaguar, Land Rover?

First of all, what this recent development shows is that Tata Motors of India has finally joined the big league. The company can now boasts itself as one of the bigger players in the competitive sector. In fact, I am truly amazed at the rate this company is doing. I have this idea that if indeed Jaguar and Land Rover may be up for sale, then an equally bigger car firm not just in terms of asset but on prestige will bid for these two storied names. Not to take anything away from Tata, but for me prior to the acquisition of these two brands the brands and manufacturers that I know- for an ordinary car lover-are the top ones like Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and GM.

The agreement between the two companies still call for an active involvement of the former owner of the two brands. Based on the press release by Tata:

As part of the transcation, Ford will continue to supply Jaguar Land Rover for differing periods with powertrains, stampings and other vehilce components, in addition to a variety of technologies, such as environmental and platform technologies. Ford also has comitted to provide engineering support, incluidng research and development, plus information technology, accounting and other services.

In addition, Ford Motor Credit Company will provide financing for Jaguar and Land Rover dealers and customers during a transitional period, which can vary, of up to to 12 months.

So what’s the other plans for Jaguar? I was about to closed this entry when I chanced upon this article that mentioned the desire of the company to produce a Jaguar concept that has been forgotten. THis F-Type concept was initially unveiled at the 2000 North American International Auto Show.  Aside from focusing on this F-Type concept, the brand is keen on re-introducing the XJ sedan and the XF coupe. Jaguar with Tata has also plans for the four-door XK and a cross-over SUV in the near future. Seems like a grand plan, don’t you think? Let’s all wait and see what develops in the weeks ahead.