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While most of us believe that small, fuel efficient cars are the key to global expansion for US automakers, Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of Global Marketing, thinks otherwise. Last week, we attended an exclusive sneak preview of the Ford Edge Concept in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Farley told us that it's actually utility vehicles that will help the Blue Oval gain market share overseas. "There is no other segment in our industry that is growing like utilities," he said. "We expect over the next five years this full family of [utility] vehicles to really drive our growth as a company."
And Farley has the numbers to back it up, too. Ford projects overall automotive sales to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2017, but the company's utility vehicles are expected to boom by an impressive 41 percent during that same period. Much of that growth will be in China, where Ford estimates its utility sales will explode. "The biggest opportunity for us globally for utilities is in China," Farley said. "China utility growth is expected to more than double from where it is today to 2017, which isn't that far away." Most astounding is that Ford projects its own utility sales in China will eventually increase by more than 2,000 percent when smaller crossovers, such as the EcoSport and Kuga (sold as the Escape in North America), and the Edge and Explorer, are factored in.
Ford's VP also expects utilities to lead the way in the struggling European market. "With all the difficulties of the European market, there is one segment that has actually expanded in volume over the last several years even though the market is way down, and that's utilities," Farley told us. Ford estimates that their utility sales will grow 65 percent in Europe from 2012-2017. "The utility segment is projected to grow we think about thirty percent between now and 2017 in Europe, and we think we are going to grow twice that rate as a brand," Farley continued.
To achieve these goals, Ford will be globalizing their utility lineup just like they have been with their passenger cars. The EcoSport, which was previously only available in South America, has been launched in China along with the Escape. The EcoSport and Edge will also be making their way to Europe to join the second generation Kuga.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ford has a problem child and its name is 'Escape with 1.6-liter Ecoboost.' The automaker announced today it's issuing two more recalls to stop fire risks that have been plaguing the vehicle since its 2012 redesign, bringing the total to six recalls for the popular crossover.
Recalls happen. Automakers hope they won't, but they do. And that's alright, for the most part, because cars are designed (and to a large degree still made) by humans, and humans make mistakes. So we forgive them, as long as the problem is resolved. Only in the case of the Ford Escape, the problem seems to keep coming back.
That's why Ford is calling in the Escape yet again due to fire concerns. The issue revolves around problematic fuel lines in 9,469 units manufactured between October 5, 2011, and July 11, 2012, all of which use the 1.6-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine.
As you yourself may recall, the Escape was subject to a string of recalls last year that resulted in a $17 million fine. One of them was over this very same issue, which Ford apparently didn't rectify the first time around. Let's hope this time is the last time.
UPDATE: Ford reached out to point out that the aforementioned $17 million fine imposed by the NHTSA was regarding issues with the MY 2001-2004 Escape and not the MY2013 model in question. Autoblog regrets the mistaken correlation.Permalink | Email this | Comments
I hear it all the time, living on the East Coast: "Well, I need an all-wheel drive car because it rains and snows sometimes." But those in the know are well aware that the right kind of rubber is really more important than anything else.
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Ford had a bit of a recall spree around this time last year, with a pair of issues on the then-new 2013 Escape, followed by a recall of 423,000 2001 to 2004 Escapes because they might accelerate of their own accord. Accordingly, Uncle Sam pasted Ford with a $17.35 million fine because it took too long to inform customers, according to a report from Automotive News.
Ford agreed to settle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accepting the fine but not admitting fault. The recall, which afflicted Escapes with the 3.0-liter V-6 along with 217,000 Mazda Tributes from 2001 to 2006 and 2008, was due to faulty gas pedals that could stay down after a driver removed their foot.
Ford issued a statement regarding the fine, saying, "We take the safety of our customers seriously and continuously evaluate our processes for improvements. While we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government."Permalink | Email this | Comments