Saturday, January 31, 2009


BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen made a strong start to the 2009 Federation Internationale de L’Automobile World Rally Championship season by splashing their way to third on today's rain-soaked opening leg of Rally Ireland.

The Finns overcame treacherous conditions to steer their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car into a provisional podium place on a day when torrential rain forced organisers to cancel almost 40km of competition due to flooding.

Team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made a blistering start to lead the rally this morning, but aquaplaned off the road and into retirement on the second speed test. They will restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules in 26th position.

This opening round of the 12-rally campaign is based in Sligo in north-west Ireland and snakes its way through both Northern Ireland and the Republic. After last night's start ceremony in Enniskillen in the North, today's action was based in the mountains east of Sligo in the Republic, where six speed tests were held covering 125.06km. They comprised a mix of bumpy, narrow farm lanes and faster, flowing roads across moorland. The final two tests this evening due to be held across the border in darkness were cancelled as the roads were flooded.

While Hirvonen opted for Pirelli's standard soft compound PZero tyre this morning, such were the conditions that Latvala chose the Sottozero winter tyre for his Focus RS WRC. The rewards were instant and Latvala stormed through the opening Glenboy special stage more than 17sec faster than anyone else and a stunning 42sec quicker than world champion Sébastien Loeb.

Hirvonen quickly settled into third but reflected on some close escapes after the opening loop.

"There was more water than I expected, so much that it was like driving through watersplashes, and I lost control completely in a couple of places," said the 28-year-old. "I wasn't so happy with my tyre choice. It was a 50-50 decision but I think the winter tyre would have been better.

"I hit a bump on the first stage and the impact damaged the light pod. It left the lights facing the wrong way and pointing straight at me through the windscreen. I couldn't see for the glare—but it took me about 5km before I realised all I had to do was to switch them off," he added.

Hirvonen switched to the winter tyre this afternoon and consolidated third, 64.8sec from the lead and with a comfortable two-minute advantage ahead of fourth-placed Henning Solberg.

"I was happier than this morning because I was more confident with the tyres. Considering it was 7ºC and the roads were soaking wet, they worked amazingly well for a winter snow and ice pattern. I lost a few seconds on the final stage when I almost overshot a junction and stalled the engine as I handbraked the car round.

"Dani Sordo is in my sights as he is just 20sec ahead. Tomorrow's stages are faster so I hope I can pick up time on him. It's a shame tonight tests were cancelled because I enjoy driving in the dark and it would have been exciting. I hoped to regain some time on him in those stages," added Hirvonen.

After his blistering opening stage, Latvala's day ended in the second stage.

"I came into a fast left corner that tightened, with a bank on the outside," he explained. "The car snapped sideways in the water and I tried to correct it, but in doing so I was forced to cut and the front left of the car hit a rock. The impact threw the car across the road and into the bank. I drove 10km to the finish with two punctures. The front left track control arm was broken and although we tried to fix it with straps, they weren't strong enough. The driveshaft also came out but we were able to repair it. I'm so disappointed and feel I have let the team down. I should have been more careful."

Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr hold 12th in the third BP Ford Abu Dhabi car. Al Qassimi lost a minute after sliding off the road on the afternoon's opening stage but was pushed back into the action by spectators.

"I entered a muddy corner and was trying to keep the car on the line but it slipped out and I lost control. We were heading for some trees on my left but at the last second I pulled the handbrake and hit a tree side-on. I was doing about 50kph and if I'd hit the tree head-on at that speed the impact would have caused far more damage," explained Al Qassimi.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson reflected on a dramatic day.

"It was the best start to an asphalt rally that I can remember with Focus cars holding first and second, but sadly it didn't last. Jari-Matti made an excellent tyre choice but was caught out in difficult conditions. His retirement put the team under pressure but Mikko responded well to hold third in what was a solid day," he said.

Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) struggled on the opening stage in heavy rain and darkness and was seventh. But the Frenchman was fastest on the remaining five stages to move into the lead this afternoon. He heads team-mate Dani Sordo by 44.4sec, the Spaniard complaining of throttle troubles on the final stage this morning. Stobart driver Henning Solberg (Ford) is fourth with team-mates Conrad Rautenbach and Sébastien Ogier (Citroen) rounding off the top six, despite Rautenbach puncturing a tyre on stage three. Chris Atkinson (Citroen) is seventh despite his bonnet flipping up and shattering his windscreen in stage three and then aquaplaning into a pole on stage six. Surprise of the day was Stobart driver Urmo Aava (Ford) who led after the morning loop before sliding into a ditch and retiring on the final stage. He will restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules.

The second leg is based in the Fermanagh lakeland area of Northern Ireland, north of Enniskillen. After leaving Sligo at 06.25, drivers face two identical loops of three stages, split by service in the town. They cover 133.36km of competition before returning to Sligo for the overnight halt at 18.03.

Stage 1: 1. Latvala 12min 44.0sec; 2. Aava + 17.6; 3. McShea + 27.1; 4. Hirvonen + 31.5; 5. Sordo + 32.7; 6. Solberg + 35.9; 11. Al Qassimi + 59.6.
Stage 2: 1. Loeb 8min 31.5sec; 2. Aava + 2.4; 3. Hirvonen + 16.1; 4. Sordo + 17.8; 5. Solberg + 21.7; 6. Al Qassimi + 24.4; 29. Latvala + 1:52.2.
Overall: 1. Aava 21min 35.5sec; 2. Loeb + 22.0; 3. Hirvonen + 27.6; 4. Sordo + 30.5; 5. McShea + 32.8; 6. Solberg + 37.6; 10. Al Qassimi + 1:04.0; 14. Latvala + 1:32.2.

Stage 3: 1. Loeb 14min 35.2sec; 2. Aava + 15.3; 3. Hirvonen + 18.6; 4. Sordo + 21.7; 5. Solberg + 33.1; 6. Rautenbach + 41.0; 11. Al Qassimi + 1:21.8.
Overall: 1. Aava 36min 26.0sec; 2. Loeb + 6.7; 3. Hirvonen + 30.9; 4. Sordo + 36.9; 5. Solberg + 55.4; 6. Rautenbach + 1:26.2; 10. Al Qassimi + 2:10.5.

Stage 4: 1. Loeb 11min 37.4sec; 2. Sordo + 2.0; 3. Hirvonen + 10.0; 4. Atkinson + 29.8; 5. Aava + 38.5; 6. Solberg + 42.1; 20. Al Qassimi + 2:17.1.
Overall: 1. Loeb 48min 10.1sec; 2. Aava + 31.8; 3. Sordo + 32.2; 4. Hirvonen + 34.2; 5. Solberg + 1:30.8; 6. Rautenbach + 2:28.3; 13. Al Qassimi + 4:20.9.

Stage 5: 1. Loeb 7min 40.5sec; 2. Sordo + 8.3; 3. Hirvonen + 11.5; 4. Atkinson + 20.0; 5. Aava + 28.4; 6. Ogier + 30.2; 11. Al Qassimi + 56.6.
Overall: 1. Loeb 55min 50.6sec; 2. Sordo + 40.5; 3. Hirvonen + 45.7; 4. Aava + 1:00.2; 5. Solberg + 2:16.6; 6. Rautenbach + 3:09.2; 12. Al Qassimi + 5:17.5.

Stage 6: 1. Loeb 13min 44.6sec; 2. Sordo + 3.9; 3. Hirvonen + 19.1; 4. Ogier + 47.0; 5. Solberg + 52.8; 6= Wilson, Rautenbach + 1:09.1; 10. Al Qassimi + 1:43.8.
Overall: 1. Loeb 1hr 09min 35.2sec; 2. Sordo + 44.4; 3. Hirvonen + 1:04.8; 4. Solberg + 3:09.4; 5. Rautenbach + 4:18.3; 6. Ogier + 4:23.2; 12. Al Qassimi + 7:01.3.

Stage 7: Cancelled

Stage 8: Cancelled


logo of Busch SeriesImage via Wikipedia

Circle Bar Racing recently announced the selection of James Buescher as the driver of the No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel Ford F-150 for the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

With continued sponsorship from Navistar Inc. of the two-truck effort at Circle Bar Racing, Buescher will team with 12-year series veteran Rick Crawford, whose livery changes to the No. 14 International Truck and Engine Ford F-150 for the upcoming season. Leading the No. 10 International MaxxForce Diesel team and Buescher in his quest for Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors will be veteran crew chief Jamie Jones. Jones, who joined Circle Bar Racing at the end of the 2008 season, brings more than 25 years of racing experience to the organization and will work alongside Kevin Cowboy Starland, who continues his role as crew chief for Crawford.

“I really want to thank the Mitchells for giving me this opportunity to drive the No. 10 Ford for the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, and I’m excited to represent International and its MaxxForce Diesel brand in my rookie season,” said Buescher. “This is the next step for me in my NASCAR career, and to drive for an established organization like Circle Bar Racing is an honor. I look forward to working with Rick Crawford not only as a teammate but as a mentor.”

Just 18 years of age, Buescher has an accomplished racing résumé, winning national championships in everything from Bandoleros to Legend cars to Late Models. In 2007, Buescher became the youngest winner in ARCA Re/Max Series history, taking the checkered flag at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., at the age of 16. Last year, Buescher competed in six NASCAR Nationwide Series races piloting the No. 32 entry and captured the pole at Memphis Motorsports Park in his final race of the season. In six Nationwide Series races, Buescher posted one top-10 finish (Gateway) and had just one finish outside of the top 20. Buescher also competed in the truck series season finale last year, piloting the No. 15 entry to a 19th-place finish.

As a Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender, Buescher will turn to crew chief Jamie Jones for guidance. Jones has had success working with young talent, including Kasey Kahne and Brandon Whitt, who Jones took to victory lane at Memphis Motorsports Park in truck series competition in ‘05.

“I have known Jamie Jones for some time and when I heard he was at Circle Bar Racing, that made the decision that much easier,” said Buescher. “I expect to lean on Jamie’s experience as a crew chief to continue my development as a driver in one of NASCAR’s biggest series. My association with Turner Motorsports and the Turner family has allowed me to get to this level, and I’m thankful for the support they continue to give me. I grew up not far from Texas Motor Speedway, and knowing that it’s the home track for Mr. Mitchell and Circle Bar, that’s going to make those two races at Texas even more exciting.”

A mainstay in the truck series since 1997 with Crawford behind the wheel of its flagship No. 14 Ford, Circle Bar Racing expanded to a two-truck operation in ‘07 and experienced immediate success, posting two top-10 finishes in the final driver point standings. Since its truck series debut in ‘97, the organization has posted five victories and five poles.

“James is a young, talented driver and I’m excited to have him as a teammate at Circle Bar Racing,” said Crawford, winner of the 2003 Daytona 250. “Now that we’ve got our lineup announced, I’m ready to start the 2009 season and head to the high banks of Daytona and show off the new colors of our International Truck and Engine Ford F-150.”

The ‘09 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season commences on Feb. 13, at Daytona International Speedway with the running of 10th annual Daytona 250. Live action can be seen on Speed, the exclusive home of the Camping World Truck Series.

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

Fourth Quarter 2008 $228 Million Net Loss Reported

Ford Motor Credit Company reported a net loss of $1.5 billion in 2008, a decrease of $2.3 billion from net income of $775 million a year earlier. On a pre-tax basis, Ford Motor Credit reported a loss of $2.6 billion in 2008, including the second quarter 2008 impairment charge of $2.1 billion for North America operating leases, compared with earnings of $1.2 billion in the previous year. The decrease in full year pre-tax earnings is more than explained by the impairment charge, a higher provision for credit losses, and higher depreciation expense for leased vehicles.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, Ford Motor Credit’s net loss was $228 million, down $414 million from a year earlier. On a pre-tax basis, Ford Motor Credit reported a loss of $372 million in the fourth quarter, compared with earnings of $263 million in the previous year. The decrease in fourth quarter pre-tax earnings primarily reflected a higher provision for credit losses, higher net losses related to market valuation adjustments to derivatives, lower volume, and lower financing margin. Lower operating costs were largely offset by other expenses.

“The drastic and rapid deterioration in the economy, credit markets and auto sales in 2008 brought unprecedented challenges to Ford Motor Credit. The historic decline in used-vehicle auction prices across the industry affected our North American lease portfolio and led to a second quarter impairment,” Chairman and CEO Mike Bannister said. “Tough external challenges are expected in 2009. However, we will continue to manage our business through consistent and sound risk management, lending and servicing practices.”

On December 31, 2008, Ford Motor Credit’s on-balance sheet net receivables totaled $116 billion, compared with $141 billion at year-end 2007. Managed receivables were $118 billion on December 31, 2008, down from $147 billion on December 31, 2007. The lower receivables primarily reflected lower North America receivables, changes in currency exchange rates, the impact of divestitures and alternative business arrangements, and the second quarter 2008 impairment charge for North America operating leases.

Ford Motor Credit also is restructuring its U.S. operations to meet changing business conditions, including lower auto sales and the planned reduction in Jaguar, Land Rover and Mazda receivables, and to maintain a competitive cost structure. The restructuring will affect servicing, sales and central operations and eliminate about 1,200 staff and agency positions, or about 20 percent. The reductions will occur in 2009 through attrition, retirements and involuntary separations.

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Friday, January 30, 2009


Ford Transit, 5.Image via Wikipedia

Ford's Transit van defies all cost of living trends and costs less now than it did in 1995. The 2009 short wheelbase Ford Transit model not only costs less today but also includes safety and electronic features that were options on a 1995 Transit, creating a fabulous value for money package.

The 1995 base model, short wheelbase Transit with a 900kg payload started out at £12,270, equivalent to £17,001.95 using the latest 2007 retail price index figures. A similar 2009 Transit model costs £14,920. Also, to specify the 1995 model up to today's standard model you would have had to spend a further £3,860 on optional extras.

Apart from a 2009 base model coming with features such as air bags, ABS and power steering, today's Transit is more powerful, more comfortable, more economical and greener too. Ford Transit has been at the forefront of many safety developments and today features ESP, ABS, driver's air bag and steel bulkhead as standard.

Steve Kimber, commercial vehicles director, Ford of Britain said: "A loaf of bread cost seven pence in 1995, today it is more than 17 times dearer. With vans, customer expectations in terms of driver comfort and safety have risen considerably since 1995 but the price hasn't. I can't think of a better value proposition for a van that is still the best business partner you can buy."




100 SWB 70 BHP

260 SWB 85PS







Turbo 85PS



Air bag






Cassette player


CD player


Bulkhead/steel doors



Central locking



Limited slip differential




Power Steering



Recirculating heater



Rev counter



Electric windows




£16, 130


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Some welcome sponsor news has come the way of two Ford teams.

Bobby Labonte’s No. 96 Ford Fusion gets backing for a handful of races from Academy Sports & Outdoors. Count the sponsor onboard for NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Bristol, Darlington, Daytona (summer), Atlanta and Talladega.

Then came word that Ansell Protective Products Inc. and Menards Home Improvement Stores are co-primary sponsors of nine-time ARCA Re/Max Series Champion Frank Kimmel.

“This sponsorship program is really neat,” said Kimmel in a written statement. “It has been designed to promote the availability of Ansell’s safety glove line to the contractor and installer markets at Menards retail locations. The support of Ansell and Menards helps me to continue to pursue my goals of attempting to earn a tenth ARCA Re/Max Series Championship and hopefully surpass Iggy Katona on the all-time ARCA win list.”

Look for the familiar Menards Day-Glo yellow on Kimmel’s car Feb. 7 in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway.


Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

Customers eager to purchase America’s most fuel-efficient mid-size sedans, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid, can take advantage of a $3,400 tax credit from the federal government.

Buyers of a new 2010 Fusion Hybrid or Mercury Milan Hybrid this year will qualify for the $3,400 tax credit, the highest credit amount ever offered for hybrids purchased or placed in service after Dec. 31, 2005. The Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient SUVs in America, continue to qualify for a $3,000 tax credit, the highest available tax credit of all hybrids on the road today.

Fusion Hybrid’s class-leading 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which tops the Toyota Camry Hybrid by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway, helped Fusion garner the significant credit amount, which is based on a vehicle’s potential fuel efficiency. Stacked together, Fusion’s fuel savings and tax incentive can help significantly offset the premium to the customer for hybrid-electric technology over a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.

“Hybrids are an important part of our strategy to deliver the best or among the best fuel economy with all of our new products, and the Fusion and Milan Hybrids have set the pace for the company, as well as our competitors,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “We’re glad to see our government help promote these advanced, clean fuel-efficient vehicles to the consumer.”

Technological innovation, like the development of Ford’s hybrid systems, is a core value as the company drives for leadership in quality, safety, fuel efficiency and in-car connectivity. A new study this week by The Patent Board™ – the world’s leading patent analyst – found that Ford outperformed all other automakers in the quality and significance of its technology patents. The 2010 Fusion, Milan and their respective hybrid models set new standards for technology innovation with 119 U.S. patents.

Hybrid Hot Sheet
To deliver 700-plus miles on a single tank of gas, Fusion Hybrid travels up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode, faster than the Camry and all other hybrids currently on the road. In addition, the system’s Intake Variable Cam Timing (i-VCT) allows the hybrid to more seamlessly transition from gas to electric mode and vice-versa, delivering a near imperceptible hybrid driving experience to the customer.

Other advanced hybrid systems that contribute to Fusion’s fuel-economy leadership include:
• A smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride battery, which produces 20 percent more power than Ford’s previous hybrid system.
• An enhanced electronic throttle control, which reduces airflow on shutdowns, reducing fueling needs on restarts.
• A regenerative brake system that recovers and stores nearly 94 percent of energy normally lost through friction in braking.

The 2010 Fusion Hybrid also debuts Ford’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide, a unique instrument cluster that helps coach drivers on how to optimize the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.

Ford’s Growing Hybrid Fleet
The 2010 Fusion and Milan Hybrids join the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids, doubling the company’s hybrid product offerings and volume.

The 2009 Escape and Mariner Hybrid FWD models qualify for a $3,000 tax credit; 4WD models $1,950. Owners of previous model-year Escape and Mariner hybrid models may also qualify for varying credit amounts from $1,950 to $3,000. The credit is only available to the original purchaser of a new, qualifying vehicle.

The tax credit amounts available for 2009 and 2010 model year hybrid vehicles are as follows:

Tax Credit Amount

1/1 - 3/31/09

4/1 - 9/30/09

10/1/09 – 3/31/10

4/1/10 and later

2010 Fusion Hybrid





2010 Milan Hybrid





2009 Escape Hybrid FWD





2009 Escape Hybrid 4WD





2009 Mariner Hybrid FWD





2009 Mariner Hybrid 4WD





Tax Credit Update
Customers who purchase a Ford or Mercury brand hybrid by March 31, 2009 will remain eligible for the full tax credit amounts. Beginning April 1, 2009 customers who purchase a hybrid will only be able to claim a partial tax credit as described in the table above.

Since Ford Motor Company reached the 60,000 vehicle threshold in the 4th quarter of 2008, the tax credit amounts are reduced by 50 percent beginning in the second quarter of 2009 and by an additional 25 percent beginning in the fourth quarter of 2009. No tax credit amount is available for hybrids after March 31, 2010.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ford KaImage by Edgley Cesar via Flickr Intelligent Protection System which integrates airbags, seat belts and seating technologies to promote a highly effective occupant safety system. New Ka's security features also contribute to the insurance rating and include shielded door and ignition locks.

In addition, data provider CAP has set the all-new Ka residual values (RVs) with an average rise of 14 per cent over three years / 60,000 miles. This equates to an increase of £1,350 for petrol derivatives. All petrol models are now valued at 39 per cent after three years / 60,000 miles with the diesel Zetec valued at 41 per cent.

Furthermore, after one year / 10,000 miles the average rise in RV is 16 per cent. RVs are up by between 15 per cent for Zetec 1.2 petrol and 21 per cent for Studio petrol. This amounts to increases of £1,625 and £1,850. The new diesel option on Ka Zetec has residual value set at 69 per cent.

Martin Ward of CAP said: "The new Ford Ka is a brilliant small car which is coming to the market at the right time when customers are looking for economical cars that are cheap to run, fun and have great styling – it's a superb drive for such a small car."

On sale now, the all-new Ka is competitively priced, with models starting from £7,945.00.

Insurance: All-new Ford Ka

Studio 1E/2E
Style 2E/3E
Style +


Zetec 2E/3E
Zetec Diesel


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Jari-Matti Latvala driving his Ford Focus RS W...Image via WikipediaBP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team's young chargers plan to use the lessons learned last season to ignite their challenge in the 2009 Federation Internationale de L’Automobile World Rally Championship which begins in Ireland this week.

Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala raised their experience levels enormously as they turned what was expected to be a transitional year for Ford in 2008 into a concerted title bid in both the drivers' and manufacturers' series.

Now 28-year-old Hirvonen and 23-year-old Latvala, accompanied by co-drivers Jarmo Lehtinen and Miikka Anttila respectively, begin the 2009 campaign on Rally Ireland confident of stepping up their performance even further. Continuity is a key strategy of the team this season and the pairings will again have the record-breaking Ford Focus RS World Rally Car at their disposal. The car won four times in 2008 and has 36 WRC victories to its credit since the original model debuted in 1999.

Rally Ireland is one of just two all-asphalt events in the 12-round series and returns for its second appearance after a year's absence. However, the term asphalt is a misnomer for this cross-border event, which is based in Sligo, in the Republic of Ireland, but also ventures into Northern Ireland.

The route is a mix of flowing mountain roads and tight, twisty farm lanes. The latter are bumpy and narrow—often little more than the width of a car—with many surface changes. They are used by farmers on a daily basis and will be dirty. With rain highly likely in late January, they could quickly turn muddy and become treacherously slippery, so much so that a more gravel-based car set-up is likely to work better than a traditional asphalt specification. Ice and snow cannot be ruled out either.

Hirvonen, second in the drivers' championship last year, also led the team to second in the manufacturers' series. He was fourth in Ireland in 2007 and knows what to expect this year.

"Rally Ireland was difficult in 2007, but this year I feel it's going to be even harder," he said. "I think we'll experience ice in places and the roads are so incredibly narrow and fast. Cars cut the corners and pull mud onto the road so it can be dirty and slippery. It's going to be an interesting and challenging event to start the year. We have a two-day test before the rally so that should give us confidence going into the start. I want to be on the podium, but if there's any chance at all, I want to fight for the win."

"I'm feeling confident about the season ahead. I learned much from 2008 that I'm sure will benefit me this year. After a too cautious start, my speed increased during the second half of the season and that's how I need to start 2009. There are only 12 rallies so it's important to score on every rally. There is no room for zero points from events because there are fewer rallies to make up for it," added Hirvonen.

Latvala claimed his first WRC podium in Ireland in 2007 and has set his sights on a repeat. "Loose surface rallies are my preference, but I've said to myself that if I can finish in the top three on asphalt this year, that would be perfect. It will be a very tricky rally because the conditions will be so unpredictable and a neat, tidy and mistake-free drive will be rewarded," he said.

"Consistency is an area in which I want to improve in 2009. I want to eliminate the kind of ups and downs that I experienced at times last season. This time one year ago I was very nervous ahead of my debut in the Ford team. I went through so many things last year, gaining experience and learning about the mental side of the WRC, that I feel relaxed and confident for the new season. I have two targets—to help Ford regain the manufacturers' title and to fight for the drivers' title. It's not a target to win the drivers' title—that's different—but I want to be able to challenge for it," added Latvala.

Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr will drive a third Focus RS WRC. The 36-year-old, who finished 15th in 2007, knows Ireland will be hugely different from the conditions he will experience during this weekend's opening round of the Middle East Rally Championship in Qatar.

"I’m sure Ireland will be wet and the asphalt is bound to be muddy and slippery. It won’t be easy for me, especially after driving in Qatar, but I'll rely on my pace notes, start steadily and aim to improve throughout the weekend. I've learned a lot in the past 18 months—now is the time to realise my potential. This season my goals are to keep improving and hopefully I'll be in a position to post top 10 finishes and get in the drivers' points," said Al Qassimi.

The rally covers similar territory to 2007 in the Sligo mountains and Fermanagh lakelands in the north-western counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. After Thursday evening's ceremonial start at Enniskillen Castle, Friday's opening leg covers a massive 164.53km and spans 15 hours. It includes a new stage and much of it is in the mountainous Leitrim and Cavan area of the Republic before crossing into Northern Ireland for two tests in darkness. The second day is based around narrow farm lanes near Enniskillen, in Northern Ireland. The short final leg in the Republic includes a new stage through the streets of Donegal town, which is broadcast live on television. Drivers tackle 19 stages covering 366.75km in a total route of 1405.99km.

Thursday: Ceremonial start
Start Enniskillen Castle, Enniskillen 19.30

Friday: Day 1 Sligo – Sligo
Start Sligo 07.25
SS1 Glenboy 1 22.25km 08.13
SS2 Cavan 1 15.09km 09.01
SS3 Aughnasheelan 1 25.19km 09.42
Serv A Sligo (30 mins) 11.44
SS4 Glenboy 2 22.25km 13.02
SS5 Cavan 2 15.09km 13.50
SS6 Aughnasheelan 2 25.19km 14.31
Serv B Sligo (30 mins) 16.36
SS7 Murley 24.70km 18.54
SS8 Fardross 14.77km 19.39
Serv C Sligo (45 mins) 21.39
Finish Sligo 22.24
Total 164.53km

Saturday: Day 2 Sligo – Sligo
Serv D Sligo (15 mins) 06.25
SS9 Sloughan Glen 1 27.76km 08.13
SS10 Ballinamallard 1 25.46km 09.06
SS11 Tempo 1 13.46km 09.49
Serv E Sligo (30 mins) 11.54
SS12 Sloughan Glen 2 27.76km 13.57
SS13 Ballinamallard 2 25.46km 14.50
SS14 Tempo 2 13.46km 15.33
Serv F Sligo (45 mins) 17.18
Finish Sligo 18.03
Total 133.36km

Sunday: Day 3 Sligo – Sligo
Serv G Sligo (15 mins) 07.40
SS15 Geevagh 11.48km 08.35
SS16 Arigna 27.90km 09.00
SS17 Lough Gill 13.51km 09.51
Serv H Sligo (30 mins) 10.41
SS18 Donegal Bay 14.47km 12.09
SS19 Donegal Town 1.50km 13.10
Serv I Sligo (10 mins) 14.33
Finish Clarion Hotel, Sligo 15.10

Total 68.86km
Rally total 366.75km

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Student Innovators to Unveil Environmentally-Driven EcoCAR Designs

General Motors CorporationImage via WikipediaWhat:
In just over a week,student teams selected to participate in EcoCAR: the NeXt Challenge will unveil their cutting-edge plans to design and build advanced propulsion systems that could define the next generation of ‘green’ vehicle technologies. Seventeen teams, selected from universities across North America, are being challenged to engineer advanced vehicle solutions to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These ground-breaking architectures will be brought to life through a soon-to-be announced green interactive virtual forum that defines innovation and creativity. These green designs, along with the challenge’s newest sponsors will be announced at an EcoCAR press conference at the Washington Auto Show, in Washington D.C.

EcoCAR , which was established through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), as well as a number of other high-level sponsors, is a three-year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition. By combining government resources and industry knowledge, EcoCAR aims to inspire and support the next generation of scientists and engineers to unite around the common goal of sustainable mobility.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 at 1:00pm EST

US. Department of Energy Booth #2, Hall A, Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW Washington, DC.

Mike Wahlstrom and Frank Falcone, ANL, former competition participants and key technical organizers for EcoCAR

  • David E. Rodgers, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy, to announce new EcoCAR partnerships/sponsors
  • Mary Beth Stanek, Director, Energy & Environmental Policy and Commercialization, General Motors Corporation, to introduce innovative EcoCAR team architectures
  • Students representing five EcoCAR teams, including Howard University in Washington, D.C.
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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia
  • Ford establishes a Global Marketing, Sales and Service Operations office to integrate and drive a more consistent and compelling connection with customers around the world
  • Elena Ford named to new position of director, Global Marketing, Sales and Service Operations to lead implementation of the company’s “One Ford” marketing vision
  • New global Ford Focus small car in 2010 will be the first product to benefit from global coordination

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 27, 2009 – Ford Motor Company today announced changes to its Global Marketing organization to create a more consistent and compelling connection with customers worldwide, while better leveraging the company’s global assets and capabilities.

Leading the effort will be Elena Ford, 42, who has been named director, Global Marketing, Sales and Service Operations, reporting to Jim Farley, Ford group vice president, Marketing and Communications. Elena Ford, who is currently executive vice president, Ford Motor Credit Company Global Brand and Marketing, begins her new assignment Feb. 1.

“Enhancing the Global Marketing organization is the next step in our One Ford vision to integrate Ford’s worldwide operations and leverage our scale and expertise,” Farley said. “Elena brings a wealth of experience to the new position and is the ideal leader to drive a coordinated approach for our worldwide marketing efforts and speak with one consistent and compelling voice to customers.”

This marketing approach follows consolidation of Ford’s global product development activities in 2006 and global purchasing operations in 2008. It also reflects an aggressive move to global vehicles. All Ford vehicles competing in global segments will be common in North America, Europe and Asia within the next five years. They include Fiesta- and Focus-sized small cars, Fusion- and Mondeo-sized mid-size cars and utilities, and commercial vans.

In the newly established role, Elena Ford will be responsible for:

  • Leading Ford’s Global Marketing, Sales and Service Operations to drive commonality and standardization of marketing resources. This includes integrating the company’s marketing team members, global agencies and other supplier partners with a common and integrated plan to bring new global vehicles to market.
  • Driving a governance process on strategic and operations matters across Marketing, Sales and Service.
  • Enhancing Ford’s brand image around the world.
  • Driving greater presence of the Ford brand at global auto shows and other consumer-facing events to create a more experiential connection with customers.
  • Expanding the offering of Ford-branded licensed merchandise around the world.

The new Ford Focus global small car – which will be introduced in North America, Europe and Asia nearly simultaneously in 2010 – will be the first vehicle to benefit from global coordination. The new Focus’ introduction will build on lessons learned from the current launch of the new Fiesta, the company’s first global product under its One Ford vision.

In addition to a more consistent and higher-quality communication of the new Focus around the world, Ford expects that a globally integrated marketing launch will result in millions of dollars of cost savings.

“Our new products are being recognized for excellence around the world, and they are leading the competition in quality, fuel efficiency, safety and smart technologies,” Farley said. “Now, our job is to more effectively and efficiently connect these great products with our customers and build on Ford’s strength as one of the world’s most admired companies and brands.”

Elena Ford joined the company in 1995 as the truck advertising specialist for Ford Division. She has held marketing leadership positions representing all regions and brands around the world.

Prior to her current assignment at Ford Credit, she has served as: director of North America product marketing, planning and strategy; director of North America product marketing; director of Ford Division product marketing; and director of Business Strategy for International Automotive Operations.

Before joining the company, Elena Ford was a senior account executive for Wells, Rich Green Advertising in New York. She is the great-great-granddaughter of company founder Henry Ford.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Super Bowl XLIII LogoImage via WikipediaFourteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force will attend pre-Super Bowl XLIII festivities participating in a Castrol appearance in the ESPN Consumer Village on Saturday.

The long time NFL fan will meet and greet fans at the Castrol Ultimate Garage from 2 until 4 p.m.

Force’s Ford Mustang will be sponsored by Castrol for the 24th consecutive year. The 8,000 horse-powered Mustang will also be on display at the ESPN Consumer Village as part of the Castrol event. The Consumer Village will be located in downtown Tampa minutes away from the Super Bowl Stadium.

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via WikipediaFord and Roush Yates Engines already enjoy a reputation for producing some of the best power and reliability in the sport, but its latest NASCAR-approved engine has raised expectations to an even higher level for 2009.

Code-named "FR9," this new piece is the first purpose-built NASCAR racing engine to ever come out of Ford Motor Company. Its design has been spearheaded and developed by Ford Racing engineer David Simon, and famed engine builder Doug Yates, along with input from legendary Ford Racing engine engineer Mose Nowland.

“This is an exciting time for us to say the least, especially with the way our two companies have worked so well together on this project,” said Yates. “I’ve never had the opportunity to work on a NASCAR engine with a clean sheet of paper, but that’s basically what we’ve done and I’ve enjoyed every second. We feel we’ve got a piece that will not only be better than what we’ve got now, but will give us room to grow.

“With the exception of a few cylinder head changes through the years, we’ve had the same engine since 1991 and have been able to squeeze out every ounce of power and speed possible,” continued Yates. “What’s got me so excited is we’ve won races and championships with an engine many consider old, and this new piece is definitely a notch above, so we’ve got a lot to look forward to for years to come.”

There are three key differences between “FR9” and the current engine. First, the cooling system has been re-worked and will allow teams to optimize the amount of tape they can put on the front grille and improve downforce. Second, the valve train has been improved, and, third, the production and assembly of “FR9” will be much easier than today’s model.

Another thing is for certain, this isn’t your father’s 351 because “FR9” does not retain any of the original production 351 dimensions as the current model.
“Our main priority when we started this project was to get the bones of the engine right. We wanted to make sure we had the proper layout, the right block structure and that the overall skeleton of the engine was correct,” said Simon. “Even though we’ve been working on these engines for decades and know a lot of things about them, there was still a lot we didn’t know. In that case, we went and did some testing to get the answer.”

That data driven philosophy for designing the engine was crucial for building an engine that would not only be reliable and efficient, but powerful as well.

“It was a completely different mindset and approach to making power,” recalled Simon. “We did not finalize any part of the engine until we acquired the data that told us what was going to be our optimum setting or optimum dimension. The key to all of this in the first phase of our development was to produce as much power through the design of the engine as possible and to make sure we had the very best layout, the very best dimension, and the very best combination of dimensions that we could within the framework of the rules.”

Since taking over as Ford Director of North America Motorsports in August, Brian Wolfe has had to learn a lot in a short amount of time, but he’s been impressed with how well “FR9” has developed.

“Before taking over this job, I worked in powertrain development at Ford for 26 years, and it’s always great to see a new product,” said Wolfe. “To see the way everyone has worked together on this project is extremely gratifying and I know when “FR9” is ready for the race track, we’re going to be spending a lot of time in Victory Lane.”

Just when “FR9” is ready for competition remains to be seen, but a tentative target date is the second-half of the 2009 season.

“We’re not going to rush this engine into competition until we’re 100 percent sure it’s going to meet our strict standards,” said Yates. “We don’t feel a need to rush because our current engine is still strong and that gives us the luxury to take our time and make sure we do “FR9” right. I know we’ve got a winner here, and I can’t wait to see it on the track.”
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Sunday, January 25, 2009


MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 25: Carl Edwards, driver...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeAnother 24 hours at Daytona is in the racing books, and after a long day and eventful night of racing, it was SunTrust and Wayne Taylor Racing that led the way for the seven Ford-powered machines entered into the famous endurance race.

“We are happy coming out of here in fourth place,” said Wayne Taylor, team owner and driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Riley. “We got good points and we know now we have a good package. We have run 24 Hours so we should be able to finish the 2:45 [races]; our sites are on the championship. That is what it is all about for us.”

This was the first race with Ford power for Wayne Taylor Racing after making the switch from Pontiac last season.

“Coming out of last year, we really had an up and down year but we ended on a pretty high note, continued Taylor. “Coming to a 24 Hour with a car you have never actually run for 24 hours is a challenge. Add to that the change in engine manufacturer switching to Ford power and that was another massive change so coming in there were a lot of unknowns.

“Last night about four or five hours in, John Maddox [Roush Yates Manager of Cammer Engine Programs] told me that it was possible that none of the Ford engines might finish. We spent about an hour talking about it amongst everyone and realized it was negative energy. We decided there was no point in worrying about it because if it was going to happen it was going to happen. So we said lets go race. If you take that perspective then this fourth-place finish is great, but we come here to win. We knew we couldn’t do anything about it so we just decided to fight and go race. Maybe we got lucky or maybe there wasn’t any problem at all.”

The rest of the Ford machines weren’t as fortunate as the SunTrust No. 10 to complete the entire race with the other six Ford entries experiencing the same electrical issue, resulting in early exits from the race.

“Our preliminary indications are that a common component failure related to the electrical systems was the problem in six of the Ford powered cars during the race,” said Pat DiMarco, Ford Racing vehicle dynamics and electronics supervisor. “The lone Ford-powered car to finish the race, the SunTrust Racing entry, was running the same part as the other Ford cars batch that failed during the race. We will continue to investigate this problem and work to correct the problem for the next race.”

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Friday, January 23, 2009


Daytona 500Image via WikipediaOne lucky fan will win a 2010 Ford Fusion in Ford Racing’s “We Race. You Win.” national sweepstakes, announced here today as part of the Ford NASCAR Media Day.

Each time a Ford Racing driver wins a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race in 2009, one lucky fan and a guest will win an all-expenses paid trip to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. During the race weekend, one of those fans then will be selected as the grand prizewinner of a 2010 Ford Fusion.

Race fans can register by logging on to anytime from Jan. 22 to Nov. 15, 2009. Obviously, the sooner the fans register, the more opportunities they have to win.

“With our new NASCAR Fusion debuting on track this season, we wanted to do something special for race fans that will reward them every time one of our drivers wins,” said Greg Scott, Ford Fusion marketing manager. “The inspiration for Ford's NASCAR race car, the 2010 Fusion, is destined to be a hit in the marketplace, not just because of its bold design and the way it drives, but also because of its award-winning reliability and safety features.

“And we’re pleased that the 2010 Fusion Hybrid is a strong part of our lineup this year after making its debut as the first hybrid car in NASCAR history to lead the field to the green flag at Homestead last November,” added Scott. “The Fusion Hybrid is already the most fuel efficient mid-size sedan in America, with 41 mpg in the city and over 700 miles on one tank of gas.”

Ford drivers won 11 Sprint Cup races in 2008, including a series-best nine victories from Carl Edwards, who test drove both the 2010 Fusion Hybrid and 2010 Fusion Sport at Homestead last November.

“I’m looking forward to giving our race fans as many chances to win a new Fusion as I possibly can,” said Edwards, who is the driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion. “After my test drive, I personally know how good a car the new Fusion is and I can’t wait for it to get to the dealers so everybody can drive one. I hope the Ford drivers win a lot more than 11 races this year so we can help more fans win that trip to Ford Championship Weekend.”

As a bonus to kick off the new national promotion, after the first Ford victory of 2009 – as soon as the season-opening Daytona 500 - one lucky fan will have the winning driver come to his/her hometown for a 2010 Fusion test drive and dinner.

All of the Homestead winners will receive a trip for two to Ford Championship Weekend, including air, hotel, rental car, tickets to all three races, and a VIP visit with Ford drivers at the race track.

Fans who register will also have a chance to be eligible for one of 10 random monthly drawings of Ford Racing themed prizes, like autographed helmets, apparel packs and more.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


FR500C in KONI Challenge Series competitionImage via WikipediaA championship-winning driver will be teamed with a championship-winning organization Friday as 2008 Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Champion Andrew Caddell of Graham, Wash., will make his Grand-Am Koni Sports Car Challenge debut driving a Ford Mustang FR500C in the season-opening Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway with Hyper Sport/Jim Click Racing.
Caddell’s first career Koni Challenge start comes as part of the Ford Racing Champions package for the Mustang Challenge.
Racing with Jim Click Racing as part of the Hyper Sport Koni Challenge campaign, Caddell will be in a championship-caliber environment as Hyper Sport won the ‘08 Koni Challenge GS Class Championship with drivers Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell. In addition to being with a strong team, he will also be co-driving the Mustang with a familiar face, as Jim Click has been signed to share the driving duties. The duo have a fast friendship already, as Click was a fellow competitor in Mustang Challenge, and will head south to Daytona bringing extensive Koni Challenge experience to the program.
“I’m excited,” said Caddell, who took two wins and scored seven podiums on his way to the ‘08 Mustang Challenge crown. “We went down to the test days and it was pretty cool. The cars are similar in a lot of ways but a little different in other ways. It was great to get down there and get in a different car, and to especially get around Daytona!”
The Ford Mustang FR500C that competes in the GS class of the Koni Sports Car Challenge features the 5.0-liter Cammer engine and represents the next step up from the FR500S utilized in Mustang Challenge competition.
“The tires are a little different,” continued Caddell. “They run Hoosiers in Koni and BFGoodrich in the Mustang Challenge. I’m getting used to those; they’re a little bit harder, so they want to spin the tires a lot more than the Mustang Challenge car did. Also, the Mustang Challenge car had the wing and the front splitter and the KONI car only has the little spoiler, so they tend to push a lot more than the Mustang Challenge car. So you have to be careful with what you do when getting into the corner to make sure that it doesn’t push at all and you don’t run the front tires off of it.”
For Caddell, the three-hour Koni Challenge race will be a markedly different format from the 45-minute Mustang Challenge sprint races he contested on his way to the title. But he will not only have a strong organization behind him with Hyper Sport, but Caddell will also have an experienced hand in Click to team with.
“It will help a ton having him [Click] there,” said Caddell. “He’s a very nice man. I talked to him a lot throughout last season. Also, to be paired with Hyper Sport is great because they won the championship last year. I think that they will be very valuable because they know what they’re doing. Joe Foster will be able to help me out and tell me what to do. With the whole team that they have over there, it should be a very good opportunity for us in Daytona.”
The FR500C has a strong record of success on the 3.56-mile oval-based road course, having won in its debut Koni appearance at the track in 2005. The Ford Mustang went on to help David Empringham and his Multimatic team win the ‘05 Grand-Am Cup (now Koni Sports Car Challenge) Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championships. Showing that it has both speed and staying power, the FR500C once again locked up the trio of championships in ‘08 as Hyper Sport drivers Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell scored the championship laurels for Ford.
“I really think Andrew is one of the best up and coming racers in this country," said Click. "It's great that Ford Racing has asked me to be a part of this as his co-driver. I don't think Andrew will have any problem making the move to the FR500S. This young man just so smooth and so good, he can drive anything. He did a great job this year taking the Championship, and so long as I can keep the car out of trouble and turn it over to him on the lead lap, we should be in great shape at Daytona!"
Caddell will not be the only Mustang Challenge racer making the move to Koni Challenge in this event, as Jamie Slone, who finished second in the 2008 Mustang Challenge championship, will co-drive with Nick Woodman in a second Hyper Sport entry. In addition, Mustang Challenge racers Charles Putman, Tony Buffomante are also entered in the event. No matter what the outcome of the race, the Mustang Challenge racers are looking forward to the new experience, not to mention making some new friends which they will be able to keep in touch with all year long, as the 2009 Mustang Challenge schedule will see the series share five race weekends with Grand-Am’s Koni Challenge events.
The Fresh From Florida 200 will take the green flag at 1:45 p.m. ET on Friday, with Speed bringing broadcast coverage on a tape-delayed basis.
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Caterpiller-sponsored dragster, probably gas o...Image via WikipediaTickets to nostalgia drag racing’s premier event, the 2009 March Meet, Mar. 6-8 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, are now on sale online.

According to Blake Bowser, vice president and general manager of the Kern County Racing Association, operators of Auto Club Famoso and producers of the fabled March Meet, race fans can purchase a Super 3-Day Pass for $75 online now and pick them up at the track the week of the event. Bowser said there are no service charges for tickets purchased online.

Individual day tickets for the event will go on sale March 2, but will be available only at the track. Ticket prices are $25 for March 6; $30 for March 7; and $30 for March 8.

Auto Club members also receive a $2 discount from the price of daily admission tickets by showing their cards when they purchase tickets at the track. Daily tickets for children ages 7 to 12 years old are $10 and kids 6 and younger may attend at no cost when accompanied by an adult with paid admission.

Also available online are downloadable forms for race entries, car show registration and camping, but according to Bowser, space is limited and starting to fill up.

Now celebrating 51 years of racing, the March Meet is a three-day speedfest that enthusiasts call ‘the jewel of Nostalgia Racing.’ It attracts drag racers and spectators from around the world and also includes a hot rod car show, swap meet and a vendors’ midway.

The 2009 March Meet is also the first race of the Hot Rod Heritage Series, the NHRA’s 8-race nostalgia racing series.

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia
  • Athletic, upscale new 2010 Ford Taurus confidently leads a growing wave of new-car introductions from Ford Motor Company. Available this summer, this distinctive new vehicle combines class-leading technologies with confident, engaging driving dynamics
  • Taurus features an impressive set of standard and available technologies that add convenience, connectivity, safety and value for customers. They include Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning, Intelligent Access with Push Button Start, MyKey™ parental programmability, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS™) with Cross Traffic Alert, Rain-Sensing Wipers, EasyFuel™ capless refueling, Ford SYNC® and Voice-Activated Navigation with SIRIUS® Travel Link™
  • The new Taurus is powered by the award-winning 3.5-liter V-6 Duratec engine, mated to one of two available fuel-efficient six-speed automatic transmissions including SelectShift® with shift control paddles mounted on the steering wheel and available all-wheel drive

The Ford Taurus – the car that changed America’s view of full-size sedans – is all-new for 2010 and ready to take on the world’s best, with an upscale new design, impeccable driving dynamics, class-leading technologies and an unbeatable price tag.

“The new Taurus sets the pace for Ford’s growing new car launch momentum,” said Mark Fields, president of the Americas. “This sedan completely redefines expectations of what Taurus stands for – and helps further define what Ford is capable of delivering – quality, fuel-efficient vehicles featuring the latest technologies, wrapped in bold, sporty and expressive designs.”

The new Taurus benefits from Ford’s Global Product Development System, which made it possible to deliver an all-new sedan 12 months sooner – with more new features than customers and dealers dreamed possible.

“Taurus is our premium Ford flagship, and it casts a halo across the entire brand portfolio,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for global product development. “Building on its reputation for safety leadership, we leveraged extensive use of computer-aided design and engineering technologies as well as digital pre-assembly modeling to deliver a high-quality, new Taurus a year ahead of schedule.”

Even better news? The new 2010 Taurus will start at $25,995 – the same price as 2009 models.

New times, new design

“Lightning can strike twice,” said Peter Horbury, executive director of Design for The Americas. “Like the 1986 original, the new 2010 Taurus differentiates by combining style with substance.”

The shift starts with the vision for Taurus itself. It debuted as a family sedan, but with the advent of crossovers, the new Taurus is aimed more at drivers who might move friends and family but place more of a premium on the driving experience and technologies aimed at making time on the road more meaningful and fun.

“Taurus is more of a ‘me’ sedan now, and we’ve delivered with this buyer in mind,” said Moray Callum, director of Ford’s Car and Crossover Design.

Exterior design details are more sculpted and powerful – from the powerdome that speaks to the strength behind its confident grille to the pronounced fenders and fascia. Bold new headlights combined with recessed parking lamps frame a new expression of the signature Ford three-bar grille – and the lowered roofline helps make the new Taurus more aspirational.

New wheels, from 17- to 20-inches in diameter, fill the sculpted wheel wells and lend Taurus a muscular and athletic stance. The raised shoulder lines of the new Taurus provide a confident profile and enable generous truck capacity.

The exterior color palette for the 2010 Taurus includes new hues, selected to harmonize with interior appointments and offer customers a broader range of color combinations. New colors include Candy Red Metallic Tint, White Platinum Metallic, Steel Blue Metallic, Gold Leaf Metallic and Ingot Silver Metallic.

Inside, a forward-leaning center stack – home to the climate controls, audio components and available navigation screen – flows in a continuous unbroken form through the instrument panel and down into the center console. The smart design allows for the interior to be formed with unbroken lines to impart seamless quality and craftsmanship.

The door panels employ an innovative urethane tooling process providing unique texture and identity to surfaces, with visible stitching and a hand crafted appeal. This same process allows for door panel two-toning, enabling model series differentiation.

Taurus precision craftsmanship is reflected in the quality of materials used in the interior, and in the exterior margins comparable to costly German luxury sedans.

Better on-road performance, too

To match its more athletic looks, the new Taurus features sportier driving dynamics.

The 2010 Taurus comes standard with Ford’s proven Duratec 3.5-liter V-6, generating 263 horsepower and 249 foot-pounds of torque. This award-winning engine earns a ULEV-II emissions certification and comes paired with a choice of two new six-speed automatic transmissions.

The smooth and refined Duratec V-6 helps the front-wheel-drive Taurus deliver unsurpassed highway fuel economy. Taurus reflects Ford’s commitment to deliver the best, or be among the leaders, in fuel economy across the vehicle segments where it competes.

Taurus fuel economy is aided by employment of a two-speed fuel pump and Aggressive Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off (ADFSO) technology.

The Taurus engine plan also calls for optional availability of Ford’s advanced EcoBoost™ 3.5-liter V-6, with an announcement regarding availability coming soon.

The Taurus SE offers a six-speed automatic transmission with a Grade-Assist hill-holding rollback prevention feature, paired with an economical 2.77 final drive ratio.

SEL and Limited series Taurus models are offered with SelectShift®, featuring racing-inspired shift control paddles mounted on the steering wheel. SelectShift offers the convenience of conventional automatic operation, or a manual shift mode that gives the driver complete control over gear selection. The SelectShift transmission enables “match-rev” downshifts and will hold manually selected gears, unlike some competitive transmissions that second-guess the driver.

The SEL is offered with a 2.77 final drive ratio, while the Limited series uses a 3.16 gear in front-wheel-drive models, and a 3.39 ratio in all-wheel-drive models to provide enhanced acceleration.

Chassis and suspension components are tuned to deliver on the sporty and aggressive design with optimized roll stiffness for cornering control, responsive steering with sharp turn-in and precision accuracy. This chassis tuning of the MacPherson front struts and multi-link rear suspension reflects Ford Global DNA, defined by responsive steering and handling, while maintaining a comfortable ride quality.

The 2010 Taurus features a new SR1 suspension configuration. Named for its “one-to-one” rear shock absorber ratio, it provides a superior balance between cornering and handling while providing a stable baseline for fine tuning. The new SR1 enables the use of 19- and 20-inch wheels – and reduces vehicle weight, saving fuel.

“While driver engagement was a key objective for the new Taurus, we also put huge emphasis on creating a quiet environment,” said Chief Engineer Pete Reyes. “Wind tunnel development time was important to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, but it also helped with fuel economy.

Customer-focused technologies

Tech-savvy customers will find plenty to like about the new 2010 Taurus. Its technologies enable customer connectivity, while fulfilling desires for personalization, customization and control. This comprehensive list of features isn’t just technology for the sake of technology. These offerings have been selected and developed to provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience for the driver and all passengers. Extensive work has also been done to ensure that these technologies are easy to understand and intuitive to operate.

Adaptive Cruise Control allows the driver to set the vehicle cruising speed while using radar technology to monitor traffic travelling up to 600 feet ahead, automatically adjusting Taurus speed to help maintain a safe distance between vehicles.

Adaptive Cruise Control also integrates Collision Warning with Brake Support, a new active safety feature.

The collision warning system uses a radar sensor to detect moving vehicles ahead and provides a visual “heads-up” warning signal transmitted across the base of the windshield and an audible warning when slower moving traffic is detected ahead. The system also pre-charges the brakes and engages an electronic brake assist to help the driver stop more quickly.

Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start, a new Taurus feature, allows the driver to enter the car and start the engine by simply carrying the fob as they approach and enter the vehicle.

SecuriCode™ Keyless Entry Keypad enables vehicle access by unlocking the driver’s door using a five-digit code on the new keypad system flush-mounted in the driver’s side B-pillar.

MyKey™ allows parents or fleet administrators to activate a restricted driving mode. When enabled, MyKey features a Persistent Beltminder® with Audio Mute until safety belts are buckled, an earlier low-fuel warning, and consistently engaged AdvanceTrac® stability control, Blind Spot monitoring, Cross Traffic Alert and Forward Collision Warning. Additional programmability includes restrictions on audio volume, limiting top speed to 80 mph and speed chime warnings at 45, 55, or 65mph.

Auto High Beams/Rain-Sensing Wipers harness sensor technologies to switch headlights to high intensity when no other vehicles are detected, in a range of up to 500 feet for taillight detection, and up to 2,000 feet for oncoming headlight detection. Rain-sensing wipers use an advanced optical sensor to detect the intensity of rain and/or snowfall to adjust wiper speed.

Easy Fuel™ Capless Fuel Filler System is an industry-exclusive feature that self-seals without a traditional fuel cap.

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) consists of two multiple beam radar modules, one each per rear quarter panel. When an approaching vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone, an indicator alert provides warning to the driver in the corresponding side view mirror.

Cross Traffic Alert uses the existing BLIS radar modules to sense oncoming traffic when slowly backing out of a parking spot. This industry-exclusive system functions only while the vehicle is in reverse and warns when cross-traffic appears within three car widths.

Ford SYNC® is the fully integrated, in-vehicle voice-activated communications and entertainment system, with 911 Assist, Vehicle Health Report and GPS-based features including business search and call completion. SYNC connects to MP3 players, iPods, memory sticks and PDAs. SYNC’s 911 Assist™ will place a call to a local emergency operator in the event of an air bag deployment incident. The latest version of SYNC adds Traffic, Directions and Information, providing turn-by-turn route guidance, and the ability to access content by personalized favorites such as region, subject matter or sports team.

Voice-Activated Navigation System with SIRIUS Travel Link™ uses an 8-inch screen to present a birds-eye-view map with 3D landmarks. The system responds to voice commands for destination programming and route selection. In addition, it provides enhanced route guidance features such as street name announcements and detailed freeway exit, turn and ramp position lane guidance. The screen can be personalized with up to 32 pictures, sized up to 1.5MB. The system also incorporates the SIRIUS Travel Link, offering availability of current weather and ski conditions, a five-day forecast, local fuel pricing by cost per gallon as well as brand, sports scores and movie listings.

Sony® branded audio components deliver sound from a variety of sources, with an AM-FM tuner, SIRIUS Satellite radio, CD, DVD audio and an integrated 10 GB hard drive for storage of up to 2,400 songs. This package also includes an available 10-speaker premium audio system.

Multi-Contour Seats are available on an industry-exclusive basis for driver and passenger, integrating a six-way lumbar support and subtle rolling pattern massage. The bottom cushion features Active Motion.

This provides minute but continuous pelvis movement, stirring a change of muscular activation helping a driver avoid back pain.

“Multi-Contour seats will be a real benefit for long distance drivers, or people with back trouble,” said Steve Michell, product design engineer. “The key is their subtlety. Active Motion is enough to help relieve fatigue but not enough to be distracting to a driver.”

Safety leadership grows

The new 2010 Taurus builds on its legacy of safety leadership, incorporating a comprehensive array of passive and active features engineered to protect and preserve its passengers.

“A stiffer body structure and new crash avoidance technologies make the Taurus – already named the safest full-size sedan – even safer,” said Reyes, chief engineer.

Taurus safety begins with a body structure optimized for strength and stiffness. The energy-absorbing front structure features octagonal front frame rails, tunnel rails and “shotgun” front structural members designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment.

The Taurus body structure features ultra high-strength boron steel in the B-pillar for added side impact protection.

The new Taurus is equipped with a comprehensive package of active and passive safety features, including dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags, side impact air bags and Safety Canopy®, a Ford exclusive protection system that features side curtain air bags that help protect front and rear outboard passengers in both rollover and side impact crashes.

Other key safety features include:

Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement (SPACE™) Architecture is comprised of a hydroformed cross-car beam embedded in the floor between the door frames, providing additional strength in the side of the vehicle. In the event of a side impact, the beam helps divert crash forces away from the occupants. A strong roof cross member and side impact door beams work with the floor-mounted tube to further improve side impact protection.

Personal Safety System® is designed to reduce the risk of injury to the driver and front seat passenger in the event of a moderate to severe frontal collision. Sensors note right front occupant weight, safety belt usage, outboard seat belt tension and seating position to optimize air bag deployment force for occupant safety.

AdvanceTrac® electronic stability control predicts the vehicle’s intended path, using sensors to detect and measure oversteer and yaw, while continuously monitoring vehicle speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When the system senses a loss of wheel traction, engine torque is reduced and braking is applied in conjunction with the standard Anti-lock Braking (ABS) system. The system also incorporates traction control to aid drivers when operating the vehicle on loose or slippery surfaces.

SOS Post-Crash Alert is an integrated system that automatically sounds the horn and activates the emergency flashers in the event of an air bag deployment.

“Customers will find a lot to love about the new Taurus,” Fields said.

The 2010 Ford Taurus will be built at Ford’s Chicago (Ill.) Assembly Plant and will be available in dealer showrooms in the summer.

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