Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Ford, with its commitment to environmental friendly vehicle development, immediately accepted Siam Discovery Center’s invitation to participate in the exhibition. Aimed to raise awareness and encourage public participation in reducing impact from global warming while conserving natural resources, the event will showcase one hundred unique art works created by leading Thai and foreign designers, including the young ones, who value natural resources conservation.
At the exhibition, Ford will showcase three special E20-capable "Ford Focus" wrapped in special graphic designs. Each of the graphic designs is created by three leading avant-garde designers who not only express their design point of view for the environment but also amplify Ford Focus’ green positioning, all blended in their own unique styles.
Saroj Kiatfuengfoo, senior vice president of Ford Thailand, concluded, "Ford did not hesitate to join the "100 Designs to Save the World" exhibition because the main concept of the exhibition is very much in line well with our environment policy. Environment, design and quality are always the core of our product development.
"The new Ford Focus is a clear example. From exterior to interior, the passenger car turns head with the contemporary appearance with kinetic design cue that makes it looks sophisticated and distinctive in all dimensions. When combined with three special graphic designs by our guest designers, the three special Focus will definitely inspire viewers to choose environmental friendly products and use natural resources wisely and responsibly. Sustainability can be achieved and it starts with us all," said Kiatfuengfoo.
Vasu Virajsilp, a young architect and the owner of VasLab design studio who create graphic design for one of the showcased Focus, said, "As an architect myself, I am particularly interested in materials, structure and texture. When I was invited to design graphic wraps for the stylish Ford Focus, which is the first E20-capable car on the market, I find this task both challenging and inspiring. I studied more about E20 and searched deeper to find more inspiration. I found out that ethanol comes from sugarcane. I also found that sugarcane bagasse has an interesting two-dimension fiber structure and form. Looking through a microscope, I saw the amazing structure of the fiber and that’s how I got my inspiration."
Vasu added that from the sugarcane bagasse fiber structure, he invented a new two dimension graphic. "By adding kinetic design elements to this interesting 2D form and structure of the sugarcane bagasse, I have created a new design that clearly reflects the "energy in motion" look and feel of the Ford Focus. The result is my own and very unique Ford Focus with a distinctive design that I call "kinetic lines".
Another talented designer designing special graphic design for the Ford Focus is Issariya Virajsilp, the founder of "Inspired by Inner Complexity" fashion brand. She also lent her talent in creating what she calls a "Fabulous Fabric" graphic design for this special occasion.
"Clothes are like billboards. We can write anything, paint any pictures to inspire people to wake up and start to preserve the environment," she said. "A car resembles a human body. It has beautiful curves and structure. Wrapping a car is like creating a nice outfit for a person, an outfit that has to enhance the beauty of the wearer’s body. The Ford Focus is outstanding with its premium European styling and contemporary design with a touch of sporty and athletic looks. So, I think, it needs a very special graphic design that further strengthens this unique characteristic. I have also added a bit of my own signature lines and designs plus other elements that reflect the "green" concept of this very interesting car."
Joining the two avant-garde designers is Ford brand ambassador Tata Young. "As a Ford driver myself, I am more concerned with environment because my Focus can use alternative fuel. I feel great driving a great car and at the same time doing my part in protecting the environment.
"I am pleased to join this project. I chose the "peace" symbol to communicate with all the viewers that the world is not as peaceful as it should be because we consume more natural resources than necessary. I wish everybody realizes this and starts to lend a helping hand. I also selected several patterns and vibrant colors to make my "Eco Blossom" graphic, as I call it, more dynamic and as lively as myself."
The three special Ford Focus wrapped in the unique graphic design are available for viewing at the "100 Designs to Save the World" Exhibition. The country’s first and largest design exhibition under natural conservation concept is on from December 15-21, 2008 at Siam Discovery Center.
Ford Focus is the first Flexifuel vehicle available in Thailand. Its launch in late 2005 marked a new milestone in the country’s alternative energy space because it is the very first vehicle in Thailand that can be filled up with 95-octane benzene, E10 or E20 fuel (20 percent ethanol and 80 percent benzene blend). Following in late 2007, Ford Focus TDCi arrived in Thailand and became the first compact passenger car powered by 2.0L turbo diesel commonrail engine on the market and it provides greater fuel efficiency, fuel economy and environmental friendliness.
In addition to engine technology, the Ford Focus is well known for its distinctive European styling appreciated by young urban people with discerning taste who choose only the best quality products for themselves. Over 80 awards it won from many countries worldwide, including the recently won "Green Car Non-Hybrid Award" in Indonesia, are the best testimonies of its outstanding design, dynamism, quality and performance.
- New 2009 F-150 – the safest, most capable and most fuel-efficient F-150 ever – is the latest Ford vehicle to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) “Top Safety Pick” award.
- Ford extends industry lead in IIHS top picks with 16, compared to Honda’s second-best 13; Ford has more Top Safety Picks and U.S. government five-star safety-rated vehicles than any other automaker.
- F-150 features safety firsts, including standard Safety CanopyTM side curtain air bags and AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control); patented “K-bag,” a new front seat-mounted air bag that helps improve side-impact protection.
DEARBORN, Nov. 24, 2008 – The new 2009 Ford F-150 is the latest Ford vehicle to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick” award. With the award, Ford Motor Company, including Volvo, adds to its leading number of 16 IIHS “Top Safety Pick” ratings, further separating itself from Honda’s second place tally of 13. IIHS awarded the F-150 its highest rating for front and side impact tests and in evaluations of seats and head restraints.
The F-150’s standard offering of Ford’s exclusive AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control) also met a newer requirement that vehicles must offer electronic stability control to earn IIHS’s top rating. Ford has been aggressively implementing this safety technology across its vehicle lineup.
“Earning a ‘Top Safety Pick’ is great news because the Insurance Institute’s tests are some of the most demanding conducted outside of our own laboratories, and customers increasingly rely on them when choosing a new vehicle,” said Susan Cischke, Ford’s senior vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “The Ford F-150 offers the best safety ratings, unsurpassed fuel economy and unmatched capability – three of the top purchase considerations for truck customers today.”
Cischke added that Ford engineered the new F-150 to also earn top ratings in the U.S. government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests to be conducted later this year. Ford has more IIHS Top Safety Picks and government five-star safety-rated vehicles than any other automaker.
The Toughest Truck
The F-150’s legendary toughness contributes not only to its durability and capability but its safety as well. The 2009 F-150 has an all-new hydroformed steel body structure – including industry-first use of tubular ultra-high-strength lighter weight steel that offers top performance and contributes to the F-150’s unsurpassed fuel economy in the full-size pickup truck segment.
Also new in the F-150 this year is Ford’s standard Safety Canopy® side-curtain air bag rollover protection system, which helps protect front and rear outboard passengers in both rollovers and side-impact crashes. It is designed to stay inflated for several seconds, as rollover crashes often last longer than side-impact crashes. Added to this is a Ford-first – the new “K-bag,” a front seat dual-chamber side air bag named for its unique shape, which is designed to help protect the rib cage from excessive crash forces during a side impact.
Further adding to the standard safety enhancements is a state-of-the-art passenger seat sensor that specifies the timing and type of air-bag deployment based on the weight of the occupant. Additional sensors in the vehicle – monitoring roll stability control and rollover air bag deployment – have been integrated into one unit, increasing the sensitivity and accuracy of the system.
Ford expects the new truck’s appeal to be even stronger for the “core truckers” who list safety as a top 10 purchase consideration and are a growing part of today’s full size pickup market. According to recent Ford customer research, 83 percent of F-150 buyers consider safety a top purchase reason – more than purchasers of five of the six competitive trucks.
Ford’s fully redesigned pickup delivers, with more safety features than any other Ford truck – period.
“Our customers buy the F-150 because it gets the job done whether for work or play when they’re hauling families and towing boats,” said Doug Scott, Ford truck marketing manager. “Businesses buy safety because it helps keep their trucks on the road, bringing in business. During the weekend, many of the same safety features also help keep families safe.”
Other standard safety features on the vehicle include Advance Trac® with Roll Stability Control (RSC®), a first for the F-150. The system, using a gyroscopic sensor, detects and measures over-steer, roll and yaw. Working in conjunction with AdvanceTrac is Trailer Sway Control, which determines from the yaw motion of the truck if the trailer is swaying and takes measures to help bring it under control.
In addition to Trailer Sway Control are a range of towing-related driver-aid features, including:
- Integrated Trailer Brake Controller is factory-installed and allows direct operation of the trailer’s electronic brakes by squeezing the control module on the instrument panel with more confidence than the typical aftermarket system.
- Tow Haul Mode changes shift points under acceleration, keeping the truck at a higher rpm and further up in the power range to improve the towing experience by avoiding unnecessary shifts in rolling terrain. Tow-haul also prevents the transmission from shifting up in gear when the vehicle crests a hill, and it provides downhill brake support that allows the transmission to downshift, letting engine-compression braking slow the vehicle and maintain a steady speed.
- Reverse Camera System activates a small camera below the Ford oval badge in the center of the tailgate when the truck is shifted into reverse, giving the driver a clear view behind the vehicle. The video image is displayed in the navigation screen on trucks equipped with that option or in the self-dimming rearview mirror on trucks without the navigation system. The system provides the visibility needed to back up to a trailer and precisely line up the hitch. The screen image includes an industry-first centerline and colored guides giving the driver a better perspective of the vehicle’s center point and periphery.
“All of these ‘driver friendly’ features not only help make this the safest F-150 ever, but they also instill confidence making the 2009 F-150’s best-in-class capability more usable,” said Scott.
The new F-150 also has been recognized as the one and only “Truck of Texas” by the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) – the sixth consecutive year a Ford truck has won top honors – as well as PickupTrucks.com’s Best Overall Half-Ton Pickup.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Ideas in mind, the design team heavily leveraged computer-aided design technology to streamline the design process and drive as many dramatic, dynamic new elements into the new Fusion as possible.
“Customers love the appearance of the Fusion, but we knew we could improve it,” said Darrell Behmer, Fusion chief designer. “From a design standpoint, we wanted to amplify the sporty look and make it more modern. The 2010 Fusion is bolder, sportier and even more fun to drive. With the added technology and beautiful, dynamic interiors to go along with even better performance all-around, the 2010 Fusion is the ‘can’t-miss’ mid-size car.”
One of the guiding themes was to make the base Fusion S model as sporty as possible and continue that throughout the portfolio all the way to the Sport version.
To create a wider, sportier look for the front, significant changes were made to the headlamps, grille and fog lamps to emphasize the aggressive front fascia. The iconic three-bar grille in particular is larger with a more modern look. Wraparound projector beam headlamps add to the high tech and leaner appearance. The fog lamps are housed below in a trapezoidal-shaped lower opening to help complete the more-muscular look.
“When you’re talking about performance, you want the car to look the part,” Song said.
Design refinements carry through to the rear of the 2010 Ford Fusion as well, with modernized taillights and decklid to help give the vehicle a more unified look from front to rear. The decklid mounted LED center stop lamp also contributes to the high tech look and better visibility.
A sportier-looking car hints at all the technology inside Fusion, including the latest version of SYNC, Sony-branded audio with SIRIUS satellite radio and the Voice-Activated Navigation system.
The interior design team created a specific look and feel for each member of the Fusion portfolio. Overall, the goal was to create a more detailed, contemporary environment with a more technical look, mirroring the added content found in each model.
The instrument panel was changed, with new metal finishes on the control knobs, and a stainless look that carries through to the doors, center console and steering wheel for a unified theme throughout the 2010 Fusion. The redesigned seats feature contrasting stitching for a more a more modern appearance. The seat bolsters are smooth, with the inserts getting a textural treatment for contrast.
“Our customers will notice a big difference in the seats,” said Designer Golnaz Armin. “They are much more comfortable, with more side support and increased softness. We really focused on the details in improving the new Fusion.”
The Fusion S model features a brushed finish with Charcoal Black and Stone. The SEL model adds more wood trim. The Fusion Sport line features a bold look with an anodized finish on the center stack and either red or blue high tech soft touch spears across the binnacle. The red or blue choice is carried through the seat inserts and contrasting stitching. An all-black with a dark stainless finish also is available on the Sport.
“If customers don’t get excited about the exterior, they’ll never come look at the interior and all the great features we have or even come into the showroom,” Song said. “We made sure they can’t miss this vehicle from the outside when you compare it to other mid-size sedans.”
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
As you know, the auto industry has been heavily affected by the turmoil in the financial markets. Much of the recent commentary has suggested that our companies "need a new business model."
I completely agree. In fact, we at Ford are well on our way to transforming our company and building a new Ford that has a very bright future.
There are two fundamental questions today:
* First, is there a competitive and sustainable future for our domestic automotive industry?
* Second, is the provision of government assistance to help bridge the domestic auto industry through these difficult economic times more favorable to our nation than the costs of inaction?
I believe the answer to both is "yes."
As a relative newcomer to this industry, I have the benefit of seeing the auto business and its transformation clearly. I see parallels with what I witnessed at Boeing after the nine-eleven tragedy and the steps we took to transform commercial airplane business.
I can tell you that the transformation at Ford is even more aggressive, and the progress we are making is remarkable.
Our plan for the past two years has been consistent:
* Aggressively restructure to operate profitably at the current lower demand and the changing model mix
* Accelerate the development of safe, fuel-efficient, high-quality new products that customers want and value
* Finance our plan and improve our balance sheet
* And work together as one team, leveraging our global assets
Our goal is to create a viable Ford Motor Company and a lean global enterprise delivering profitable growth for all.
Few companies have restructured more aggressively. We have taken out excess capacity, closing 17 plants and reducing our work force by 51,000 employees. We negotiated a new contract with the UAW to improve our competitiveness.
We shifted to a balanced product lineup offering high quality, proven safety and good value. We are delivering the best or among the best fuel economy with every new vehicle.
The speed and breadth of our transformation is evident by actions just this week alone:
* Tomorrow at the Los Angeles Auto Show, we will introduce two all-new hybrids. Our new Ford Fusion Hybrid beats the Toyota Camry Hybrid by at least six miles per gallon.
* Today, we are submitting our application for direct loans, authorized by Congress last year, to help us speed advanced technologies and vehicles to market.
* On Friday, we end large SUV production at our Michigan Truck Plant and begin converting to fuel-efficient small car production.
To fund our new products and restructuring, we went to the capital markets early and divested non-core assets.
In addition, our Ford Credit business has consolidated abroad to preserve capital in support of our U.S. consumers and dealers. We appreciate the recently introduced asset-backed commercial paper funding facility, and anxiously await the Administration's term securitization facility.
In the same way, the FDIC's approval of Ford Credit's pending industrial loan bank application will enable us to meet the financial needs of our dealers and our retail customers.
As a result of all of our actions, we were profitable in the first quarter of this year and well on our way to sustainable profitability before the economic and credit crisis hit.
We have taken decisive action to deal with this new reality. We have cut production. We have further reduced employment. We have eliminated raises and bonuses for 2009.
We took these measures while protecting the new vehicles that will secure our future.
Now, we believe we must join our competitors in asking for your support to gain access to an industry bridge loan that will help us navigate through this difficult economic crisis. We suggest the loans be structured in a revolving format, so exposure to the taxpayer would be limited – and, if used, would be repaid with interest.
We at Ford are hopeful that we have enough liquidity. But we also must prepare ourselves for the prospect of further deteriorating economic conditions in 2009.
The domestic auto industry is highly interdependent. A collapse of one of our competitors would not only affect Ford and our transformation plan, but would have a devastating ripple effect across the economy.
I am more convinced than ever that we have the right plan to transform Ford. With your help, we will create a safeguard to deal with the growing economic uncertainty, while all of us at Ford continue to deliver on our plan to create a thriving auto business for the benefit of all of us.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
“For 21 years, Popular Science’s ‘Best of What’s New’ awards honor the innovations that make a positive impact on life today, and change our views of the future,” said Mark Jannot, editor-in-chief of Popular Science. “PopSci’s editors evaluate thousands of products each year to develop this thoughtful list. There’s no higher accolade Popular Science can give.”
“We are honored that Popular Science chose to honor two new Ford technologies for 2008,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development.
“Both EcoBoost engines and Easy Fuel reflect Ford’s commitment to deliver sustainable, smart vehicles that customers want and value,” he said.
The EcoBoost family of four- and six-cylinder engines uses turbocharging and direct injection technology to deliver up to 20 percent better fuel economy and up to 15 percent fewer CO2 emissions versus larger-displacement engines. According to Kuzak, EcoBoost builds upon today’s affordable gasoline engine and improves it.
“The beauty of EcoBoost is that it enables us to downsize for fuel efficiency, yet boost for power,” said Kuzak. “We’re able to decrease the size of the available engine -- such as installing a V-6 versus a V-8 – yet boost the power using turbocharging to deliver similar power and torque of that larger engine.”
Unlike hybrids, which are most fuel efficient in stop-and-go traffic, the real-world fuel economy benefit of EcoBoost comes both in the city as well as on the highway.
In 2009, Ford will introduce EcoBoost on Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex and Taurus. In the next five years, EcoBoost will be available on half a million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles annually in North America.
The Easy Fuel capless fuel filler is a Ford-exclusive feature that uses an integrated spring-loaded flapper door to eliminate the need for a fuel tank screw cap.
“This feature eliminates the likelihood of forgetting to put the gas cap back on after fueling,” said Kuzak. “It also saves time by doing away with unscrewing and replacing a fuel-filler cap and provides a better seal, cutting down the emissions of smog-forming vapors.”
Easy Fuel launched on the 2008 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer and currently is available on the 2009 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS. The feature will be standard equipment across the entire Ford, Lincoln and Mercury product line by 2010.
The all-new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, featuring the debut of Ford’s next-generation hybrid system, along with the all-new Fusion Sport will pace the Ford 400, which concludes Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Miami is an international city with a flair for what’s new,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray. “And with the evolution of Ford Championship Weekend into one of the highest-profile events in sports, the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami is the perfect spot for a historical racing first—the Fusion Hybrid Pace Car.”
The Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Sport will both be in NASCAR-inspired camouflage for the race. Miami-area race fans and the national television audience on ABC will be the first to see the cars, since they won’t be officially unveiled until the Los Angeles International Auto Show three days later. They will be available in dealer showrooms in the spring of 2009.
After the Fusion Hybrid leads the field to the green flag, the 263-horsepower Fusion Sport will be the pace car for the remainder of the Ford 400.
“The new Ford Fusion ups the ante in the mid-size sedan segment with outstanding fuel economy but retains what made it standout from the competition from the beginning – the fun-to-drive factor,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, who will wave the green flag at the start of Sunday’s Ford 400. “The Fusion Hybrid pacing the Ford 400 showcases exactly what our customers want, fuel economy and fun – and we’re pleased to be able to offer racing fans a glimpse of what’s to come at Sunday’s race.”
The new product teases are welcome news to Ford NASCAR star Carl Edwards, a winner of eight NASCAR Sprint Cup wins this year and currently second in the championship standings.
“It’s really appropriate that Ford is bringing the 2010 Fusion Hybrid to pace the Ford 400,” he said. “The Fusion already gets great fuel mileage. And I sure know that my NASCAR Fusion gets great fuel mileage after the way we recently won the Texas race. But for Ford to come out with a hybrid version of the Fusion, that’s best-in-class in terms of fuel economy, is really cool.”
“It makes a great car even better,” Edwards continued. “I just hope that I can be on the pole next week at Homestead, so I can be running up right behind it at the start of the race.”
Monday, November 10, 2008
“We are absolutely committed to delivering safe, affordable, quality, fuel-efficient vehicles that Americans want and value. Ford is delivering quality that is now on par with Honda and Toyota and our new Fusion hybrid will have better fuel mileage than the Toyota Camry hybrid. Despite our progress, the economy and the credit crisis are significant challenges that are dramatically affecting consumer demand for automobiles. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are seeking ways to help the auto industry given these unprecedented economic challenges. We applaud their efforts and will work together with all of our nation's leaders to continue our transformation to greater fuel efficiency and to help protect jobs.”Alan Mulally, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This time, however, the Mustang is designed for drag racing.
The Mustang FR500CJ, known simply as the Cobra Jet, will be officially unveiled Nov. 4 at the 2008 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It joins its road racing brethren: the Mustang FR500S, the Mustang FR500C and the Mustang FR500GT.
“The Cobra Jet is the newest offspring of the Ford Racing lineup of race cars,” said Jamie Allison, manager of the Ford Racing Performance Group. “We started with the FR500C in 2005 and then followed by the FR500S in 2007.
“All along the way, we worked with Brian Wolfe, who, at the time, was really in the calibration activity. He oversaw worldwide calibrations, and he was a big supporter of Ford Racing, both professionally and personally,” Allison said. “He had always kind of asked us about our plans to do a drag race car and the time had just come early this year to, indeed, take all of the lessons we learned, all the processes, all of the relationships that we have inside with the plant and with the team and put together a sportsmen-destined drag race Mustang. Clearly, what we did in 1968 is the impetus for it, and we felt that it was time to bring back the Cobra Jet.”
The Cobra Jet is the drag racing equivalent of the Mustang FR500S, allowing those interested in NHRA sportsmen drag racing the opportunity to get involved with an affordable vehicle that can compete right off of the truck and run in the 10-second range.
“We are talking about designing and building competition-ready race cars,” added Allison. “These are not just the simple parts that we sometimes create. This is a full-fledged, ready to race vehicle. There is a lot of engineering that goes into the preparation, development, testing, and release of these cars. There’s a full team of engineers from Ford Racing who have been involved on the engineering side of the Ford Racing Mustangs, led by Andy Slankard who leads the group. On the Cobra Jet, that group was personally directed and overseen by Brian Wolfe because of his personal background of racing in the sportsmen class. So he’s been hands-on involved in the very specifications of the 40th anniversary Cobra Jet. ”
In addition to the Cobra Jet, the other Ford Racing Mustangs provide customers a racing ladder, all within one manufacturer, to climb up through the ranks of professional racing. The Ford Racing Mustang ladder in road racing begins with the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park featuring specially prepared school Mustangs.
The next step on the ladder is the Mustang FR500S, which is delivered as a race-ready vehicle complete with a racing seat and safety harnesses, and provides competitors with a base to hone their driving skills and an exciting year-long schedule to race against other semi-pro drivers in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup.
Moving further up the ladder puts racers behind the wheel of the Mustang FR500C, which competes in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series, and the FR500GT4, which competes in the GT4 European Cup. Both Mustangs are proven winners with each car having won championships in its first year of competition. The FR500C led drivers to championships in 2005 and 2008, while the FR500GT4 has won two titles in the GT4 European Cup in 2007 and 2008.
At the top of the ladder sit both the Mustang FR500GT and FR500GT3, which represent the ultimate race-bred road racing Mustang. The FR500GT is being homologated for Grand-Am Rolex GT and other applications, while the FR500GT3 has already competed in select FIA GT3 European Championship races.
Customers or competitors looking for more information on how to get behind the wheel of their own Cobra Jet Mustang should visit www.fordracingparts.com.
LAS VEGAS, Nev., Nov. 4, 2008 – Grammy Award-winning artist Nelly will see his brand new customized 2009 Ford Flex for the first time today when the vehicle is unveiled on the Ford stand at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.
The 34-year-old rapper, singer and actor says Ford’s newest crossover caught his eye for the first time in July when it was on display at a Ford-sponsored event in Atlanta.
“When I saw it, I said ‘Yo, that’s hot! How can I get one of those?’” he recalled. “I thought it was a real unique vehicle.”
Later that night, Nelly shared his excitement about the car with his good friend, hip hop DJ Funkmaster Flex, who has a customized Flex of his own. That’s when the metaphorical wheels started turning.
"I've been partnering with Ford on some amazing vehicles since 2005," said Funkmaster Flex. When Nelly reached out on wanting a custom Flex of his own, I knew it was going to be 'on and poppin.' From our initial meeting with him at my warehouse in the Bronx to follow-up conversations that we had about this vehicle, there was no doubt that we could deliver something that would ultimately be true to Nelly and his own style".
"When it comes to a vehicle looking sweet, this crossover is beyond sweet," said Flex of the crossover. "This vehicle is one where you can be hot coming off the dealership lot—which is a plus, but when you know that you can customize it afterwards and turn a car that's a 10 into a 20—that's super hot." It was even more exciting for me to be able to work with Nelly and introduce him to the Ford team of designers to create a vehicle all his own. It was definitely an experience."
Usha Raghavachari, Ford's Crossover Marketing Communications Manager, attended the initial event in Atlanta and says she was delighted to see how enthusiastic Nelly was about the Flex.
“He is a huge hip hop star who transcends the traditional audience. The fact that he is attracted to Flex is testament to its head-turning design,” she said.
Nelly says he was thrilled about the idea of “building” his own Flex.
“I’m what they call a ‘premiere stuntastic stuntman,’ and so you know when it comes to cars, I’m pretty inclined to go overboard,” he said. “I wanted to really turn the vehicle into mine. You can do so much with it, and I think that’s the best thing about it.”
After meeting with Nelly and getting a feel for his taste, Ford Designer Melvin Betancourt began sketching.
“Just from talking with Nelly, we knew that he wanted a custom-color blue car with a white roof, a great sound system, 22-inch wheels, an exhaust system with a little bit of a rumble on it, and a personalized interior,” said Betancourt, who worked with Catalyst Industrial Marking, Inc. to build the vehicle. “He wanted our input on the other elements of the customization.”
One of the first ideas they had, says Betancourt, was to design a custom appliqué for the roof.
“We created an art form that we feel reflects Nelly’s personality,” he said. “It’s a bird, which is a symbol of freedom -- the ability to do whatever you want in life -- and it has a very modern feel to it, which is very Flex.”
The wheels had to stand out. So the team chose NC Forged “6 Spoke” 3-piece aluminum, 22-inch wheels with NC floating center caps.
“Wheels are usually either all-chrome or all-painted. We did custom chrome rims with a brushed aluminum center, which is very unusual,” he said. “We also wanted a wild, crazy offset on the wheels, so we went with a 4½-inch rim in the back and a 3-inch rim in the front, which creates a staggered look.”
Betancourt says the inspiration for the interior of the vehicle came largely from the exterior.
“The outside of the car reflects his personality, so it was a matter of bringing the some of the same elements inside,” he said.
The team selected a black Tuscany leather interior with Katzkin® seats and contrast blue stitching that picks up the unique exterior color of the car. They also replaced all the wood grain trim inside the car with the same artwork appliqué featured on the roof.
In addition, Nelly’s Flex features the industry-exclusive Ford SYNC™ technology and a CIM LIIV™ wireless Internet entertainment system, which enables passengers to enjoy web surfing, online games, e-mail, downloaded movies, music and live television.
Nelly says one of the things that really attracts him to the Ford Flex is the vehicle’s potential to transcend the generation gap.
“It used to be that parents and kids didn’t like the same thing. Families are getting a lot younger, and now it’s kind of a friendship between parents and kids,” he explained. “When you can have a vehicle that both can rock their own way, I think you have something there that’s very special.”
“Flex has successfully attracted a wide variety of people to Ford, with over half our customers being completely new to the Ford brand,” she said. “This car helps our customers make a real statement about themselves and allows us to make a statement about where Ford is headed in terms of design and innovation."
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Ford’s SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide gives hybrid owners a more-connected, fuel-efficient driving experience by coaching them on how to optimize performance of the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids
SmartGauge with EcoGuide’s unique design uses two, high-resolution, full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) screens on either side of the analog speedometer that can be configured to show different levels of information, including fuel and battery power levels, average and instant miles-per-gallon. Growing leaves and vines track and reward the driver’s efficiency
All-new Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids are expected to offer class-leading fuel economy and will be available in the first quarter of 2009
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 29, 2008 – Pushing a vehicle to the limit takes on a new meaning in the new 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids, thanks to Ford’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide – an innovative new instrument cluster that provides real-time information to help drivers maximum fuel efficiency.
“SmartGauge with EcoGuide gives the customer real-world feedback to make the most of their hybrids,” said Gil Portalatin, Hybrid Applications Manager. “Unique to Ford and Mercury hybrid sedans, this instrument cluster acts as a good ‘coach,’ engaging drivers real-time to help them achieve maximum fuel economy.”
Ford collaborated with IDEO and Smart Design, two world leaders in helping consumers connect with technology, to develop the instrument cluster. Job One was properly integrating the driver with the cluster’s science and technology.
“The main question hybrid drivers had was, ‘How do I know I'm getting the most out of my hybrid?’ ” said Jeff Greenberg, Ford senior technical leader. “We needed to create a system that better communicates with drivers and gives them the tools to maximize fuel efficiency. That’s what SmartGauge with EcoGuide does.”
The driver is immediately engaged by the SmartGauge displays, on either side of the center-mounted analog speedometer, with a special greeting that combines illumination and graphics.
EcoGuide then uses a multi-layered approach to coach the driver to maximum fuel efficiency. A tutorial mode built into the display that helps the driver learn about the instrument cluster and the hybrid in a whimsical way that does not overpower.
For instance, drivers can choose one of four data screens to choose the information level displayed during their drives. They are:
- Inform: Fuel level and battery charge status
- Enlighten: Adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer
- Engage: Adds engine output power and battery output power
- Empower: Adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold and accessory power consumption
All levels can show instant fuel economy, fuel economy history, odometer, engine coolant temperature, what gear the car is in and trip data (trip fuel economy, time-elapsed fuel economy and miles to empty). The engine coolant temperature indicator turns green when engine conditions are warm enough to allow engine pull-down.
At the core of the instrument cluster’s design was an understanding that the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) experience evolves and deepens over time and the technology needed to reflect that.
The four levels of information can be customized to fit each driver’s needs or situation. If cruising on the highway, for instance, only basic information may be desired. Once a driver moves off the highway into a city, additional information to optimize fuel economy may be desired and can be easily accessed.
Long-term fuel efficiency can be displayed in two ways – either as a traditional chart or using an innovative display that shows “growing leaves and vines” on the right side of the cluster. The more efficient a customer is, the more lush and beautiful the leaves and vines, creating a visual reward for the driver’s efforts.
Additionally, the real-time system feedback allows drivers to assess or modify their driving habits to achieve maximum fuel economy. A shutdown screen reviews important information from the latest trip, including fuel economy performance and comparative data from previous days.
Extensive customer research was completed to ensure the instrument cluster is as driver-friendly as possible. Prototype testing was done in Ford’s Virtual Text Track Experiment (VIRTTEX) simulator, the industry’s largest driver distraction laboratory operated by an automaker. Test drivers were able to safely interact with the new technology as engineers gathered data and helped refine SmartGauge, aiding drivers in making informed decisions without being distracting or overwhelming.
“When you’re driving, you have a second or so to look at your display,” Greenberg said. “A dense display isn’t going to work. SmartGauge with EcoGuide is designed to minimize distraction caused by multiple displays. We did a lot of work to eliminate extraneous movement and create a smooth, fluid display.”
The instantaneous fuel economy gauge, for example, can be shown or hidden at each of the EcoGuide levels to suit the needs of individual drivers. “We did a lot of research and modified our designs along the way to make SmartGauge with EcoGuide unobtrusive, using subtle cues to relay information,” Greenberg said.
The brainstorming sessions with the IDEO team proved invaluable. “We received more than 100 ideas about information to display – that was our input to our studies with VIRTTEX,” he added. “In VIRTTEX, for example, we learned that you can’t overlay multiple levels of information. One of our design goals then became to geographically separate the information so it can be better understood while driving.”
The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids join the already successful Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrids – the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the planet. With the addition of the two new hybrid sedans, Ford will double its annual hybrid volume and be the largest domestic producer of full hybrid vehicles in North America.
The Fusion and Milan Hybrids will be built at Ford’s Hermosillo (Mexico) Stamping and Assembly Plant and a will arrive in dealer showrooms in the first quarter of 2009.
source Ford press release