Monday, April 9, 2012

Ford Focus 1.0-Litre 125ps Ecoboost Wins Award During First Month On Sale

Ford Ecoboost race car.
Ford Ecoboost race car. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ford’s latest addition to its best-selling Focus range has won its first award within days of going on sale.
The Ford Focus with a 1.0-litre 125PS EcoBoost turbocharged, direct injection petrol engine has been named Best Company Car by BusinessCar.
The magazine and website described the 1.0-litre Focus as “a brilliant all-rounder”, adding: “Ford has pulled another winner out of the bag. It has listened to its critics and the latest Focus is more comfortable, upmarket and relaxing than ever.
“But Ford has done more than that – it’s now shaking up the company car sector. The 125PS 1.0-litre petrol model has all that the business driver needs – it’s punchy with lots of low-down overtaking urge, smooth and relaxing on the motorway. Plus there’s lower company car tax than the diesel.”
The new 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine combines turbocharging, direct injection and twin variable cam timing to deliver high levels of performance and refinement with all the fuel economy advantages of downsizing. It produces 125PS and 170Nm peak torque (200Nm with overboost) between 1,400 and 4,500rpm.
These output figures are achieved in combination with fuel economy improvements of 20 per cent over the outgoing 1.6-litre 125PS unit. In the five-door Focus with 125PS, combined fuel economy figure is 56.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 114g/km. The 100PS version delivers a combined fuel economy figure of 58.9mpg and outright best-in-class petrol CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
Kevin Griffin, Ford Britain fleet director, said: “This award is recognition of the many talents of the 1.0-litre Focus EcoBoost – a highly efficient, technically advanced powertrain which is fun to drive while delivering fuel economy and tax savings.”

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Ford Motor Company and Dealers to Raise Record-Setting $1 Million for High Schools in April

Drive One 4 UR School
Drive One 4 UR School (Photo credit: rwentechaney)

Educational budget cuts are common, forcing schools in every state to either eliminate valued programs or search for other means of funding.
To address these needs at a local level and empower communities to support and protect valued programs, Ford Motor Company and its dealers partner with high schools across the United States to offer the Drive One 4 UR School program. This initiative has raised more than $10 million through nearly 3,000 events since its inception in 2007, and provides up to $6,000 per school through test drives of Ford products. More than 1,150 dealers have partnered with their local high schools to participate in the program and the funds raised can be applied to any area where the school needs support athletics, music, even to fix damages from natural disasters. 
In April, Ford, its dealers and high schools will attempt to raise a record-setting $1 million in a single month through more than 300 Drive One 4 UR School events throughout the U.S.
“The Drive One 4 UR School program was developed as a fun, engaging way to help high schools raise and apply money where they need it, and we realized that if we really applied our efforts in April, we could make a greater difference than ever before,” said Tracy Magee, Ford Experiential Marketing Manager. “Our dealers really shine here in going above and beyond to serve their communities by joining with local high schools to raise money and protect important programs and services.”
How Drive One 4 UR School events work
For each Drive One 4 UR School event, Ford and Lincoln dealers work with a local high school to schedule a test drive fundraising event. The dealers provide the cars to be test-driven, the high school organizes the event itself, and both work together to get the word out to their community. For every valid test drive completed, Ford Motor Company donates $20 to the participating high school, up to $6,000.
Making a difference – stories from participating high schools
O’Connell College Preparatory School, Galveston Island, Texas (partnering with Classic Ford): The residents of Galveston Island are still trying to fully recover from the effects of Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008. O’Connell College Preparatory School lost millions of dollars in books, technology, equipment, furniture, fixtures and vehicles, and the school’s library, cafeteria and locker rooms were damaged. O’Connell’s Drive One 4 UR School event funding will be applied under its general budget to address these losses and damages.
Prestonburg High School, Ivel, Ky. (partnering with Freedom Ford): In early spring, a few schools in the Prestonburg area were badly damaged by tornados. Prestonburg High School forfeited hosting its scheduled Drive One 4 UR School event and donated it to another local high school, Magoffin County High School, which required financial assistance to recover from damages. To recognize the generosity of Prestonburg High School, Ford granted Freedom Ford a second event to host to benefit Prestonburg High School as well.
North Hartford High School, Pylesville, Md. (partnering with Plaza Ford): This year, North Hartford High School will use Drive One 4 UR School funding to finish its long-awaited stadium project, adding concession amenities and locker room improvements for both the home and visiting teams.

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Messick Leads Roush Yates Through EFI Transition

On any given NASCAR race weekend, he’s bouncing from one car to another in the garage area, listening to issues, hearing about bits and pieces of problems, making corrections.

Messick is trackside services manager for Roush Yates Engines, and his job gained another layer this year with the introduction of electronic fuel injection to the Sprint Cup Series. It’s a brave new world for NASCAR teams and a revolution of sorts of the sport, which had relied on the dependable if bulky carburetor since two guys driving stock cars first challenged each other to a duel.

EFI brings an entirely new vocabulary to the sport. Fuel injectors now control the flow of gas to the cylinders that power the race cars, and now teams deal with electronic control units and relay boxes and sensors and laptop computers that are plugged into the cars to read all the data the systems churn out.

It’s a complex structure, one very different from previous seasons, and, in the early weeks of the schedule, few people have been surprised that glitches have appeared. Tony Stewart and Mark Martin have been hit by failing circuit breakers in the system, and Penske Racing has dealt with fuel pickup problems that soured the start of the year for its two drivers, Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger.

Ford teams have not had dramatic problems, a status Messick is pleased to report.

“It’s gone really well,” he said. “We have a good team of EFI guys coming to the race track. Doug Yates has done a very good job of organizing it so we can keep our EFI system going and also our Nationwide program. We’re very happy with how it’s gone.”

In the early weeks of the schedule, the new configuration has been tested at a dizzying spectrum of tracks – from the restrictor-plate climate of Daytona to the “short” big track at Phoenix to the very fast 1.5-mile course at Las Vegas to the high-banked short-track mayhem of Bristol.

“There are changes, but we’re still looking at it like what we would be doing if we still had a carburetor,” said Messick, who said it’s important for engine personnel to approach EFI as just another menu item, not a giant to overcome.

“All the tracks are different, but it’s all stuff that we’ve been through,” he said. “We’ve done it this way forever. We try to keep a clear mind and not get muddied up with EFI. EFI is so different, but it’s just like anything else. If you take a big, complex problem and break it down into little problems, you normally figure it out a lot easier.”

Near-constant attention to the ins and outs of the situation -- after a year of planning and testing for the EFI arrival -- limits the potential for problems. This is why Messick sometimes talks EFI over a cheeseburger.

“We feel like the whole thing is very organized,” he said. “We go to Bristol, and this is what we used to do. It’s what we do now. The same thing at Fontana. We feel we have a really good system and a good group of guys who are on the road every week. We look at everything together. We talk about it in the car, back and forth to the hotel, going to eat, trying to make sure we’re all communicating.

“You have to be careful or you could easily get overwhelmed by the data. You could look at stuff that might not help your car go faster. So you’ve got to break it down into what you want to look at and what you don’t, what helps the engine side and what helps the team side. You have to keep your mind clear and not get spun out and overwhelmed by all the stuff that is coming in and what’s going on.”

And, still, there could be rocks in the road.

“You always think about the what-ifs and what may go wrong,” Messick said. “We’ve had a couple little hiccups, but so far we’ve been able to work to get through them and not let them be major hiccups like our competitors.”

By the second half of the season, Messick said, teams will have made most of the adjustments to the new system and any significant differences in competitive levels probably will have evened out.

“There definitely will be an increase in understanding the system,” he said. “Everything will come along. The teams that are struggling with it now, they’ll probably get a little better. Those of us who are happy and feel good about how it’s going, there will still be some improvement left.

“But the teams that are struggling will catch up closer to where the upper teams are. That is no different than going to a new car design or anything else. It’s the same way that kind of stuff always works.”

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GM Sets March and Quarterly Sales Records in China

Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

General Motors and its joint ventures in China sold 257,944 vehicles in March and 745,152 vehicles in the first quarter of 2012, setting March and quarterly records.
GM’s domestic sales in March were up 10.7 percent from the same month in 2011. They were the second highest for any month in GM’s history in China. For the first three months as a whole, its domestic sales increased 8.7 percent, the best quarter since GM began doing business in China.
“GM has maintained our growth in our largest market in 2012, despite an overall industry slowdown,” said Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group. “Our new models such as the Chevrolet Malibu have gotten off to a solid start, complementing the ongoing strength of established products such as the Buick Excelle, Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac SRX.”
Shanghai GM’s domestic sales increased 10.5 percent on an annual basis to 110,038 units. SAIC-GM-Wuling’s sales in China increased 11.6 percent year on year to 139,768 units. FAW-GM’s domestic sales in March totaled 7,417 units. Sales at all three GM joint ventures were up from the previous month.
Demand for Buick products rose 3.7 percent on an annual basis to a March record 57,082 units. The brand was led by the Excelle, whose sales jumped 25.4 percent to 24,134 units, and the Excelle XT and GT, which had a collective sales increase of 22.7 percent to 14,064 units.
Chevrolet sales in China rose 11.1 percent year on year to a March record 54,716 units. The New Sail was the brand’s best-selling model, with demand for the sedan and hatchback rising 55.5 percent to 20,085 units. The Cruze remained a popular model as well, with sales growing 7.7 percent to 18,678 units. Sales of the Malibu totaled 4,289 units in its first full month on the market.
Cadillac continued its strong run in March, as sales increased 35.2 percent on an annual basis to a monthly record of 2,745 units. The SRX accounted for 2,143 of the luxury brand’s unit sales.
Wuling sales in China were up 9.9 percent on an annual basis to an all-time monthly record 130,251 units. The Baojun brand had sales of 5,012 units in its first March on the market.

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Cadillac Named Most Improved Among Luxury Brands

Cadillac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cadillac was recognized today at the New York International Auto Show by J.D. Power and Associates as the most improved among luxury brands for providing an outstanding customer experience.
The recognition is based on the rate of improvement during the past three years in J.D. Power and Associates’ five core U.S. automotive quality and satisfaction studies: Initial Quality Study (IQS); Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS); Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study; Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study; and Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. The award was announced by David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates.
“Our mission has been to re-think and upgrade every element of the customer experience,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of Cadillac Sales and Service. “This is a meaningful milestone in our journey.” 
A strong commitment to improving customer satisfaction requires focus and alignment at all levels – beginning in the boardroom and extending to their employees in the plants and in their dealer networks, according to J.D. Power.

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Impala Emblem Design Leaps Forward with New Model

The Chevrolet Impala has proudly worn the image of the leaping African antelope for which it was named as an emblem in some form since its debut in 1958. With the all-new 2014 Impala, the emblem evolves to complement the more modern, athletic design of the 10th-generation full-size sedan.
The Impala emblem is an enduring symbol of the nameplate. It is one of only two vehicles – the Corvette and its crossed-flags emblem is the other – in the Chevrolet lineup to have a unique symbol in addition to the brand’s signature bowtie.
The design and placement of the emblem has gradually transformed with each version while maintaining a connection to the previous one.
“For the new Impala, we wanted to evolve the emblem to complement the new vehicle design without making any radical changes to its character,” said Joann Kallio, lead creative designer for Chevrolet global badging. “We kept the stylized interpretation of the animal, and made the impala more muscular.  We also added defined edges, to give the impala a sleek form and make it look like it was running fast.”
The new Impala emblem has a bright chrome finish to match the bright chrome of the car’s bowties, located in the grille and on the decklid.  Special attention was paid to how the highlights flow across the leaping Impala badge surface, following the contour of the form of the impala, enhancing the overall appearance and illusion of movement.
There are two versions of the new emblem, one for each side of the vehicle so the animal always appears to be running forward. There also are impala logos stamped in the aluminum sill plates.
Chevrolet will complete the total transformation of its North American passenger car lineup when the all-new 2014 Impala goes on sales in early 2013.  Chevrolet’s redesigned flagship sedan was designed to offer dramatic styling, a more refined interior, easy-to-use technology and engaging driving dynamics. 
Impala Emblem Milestones
  • From 1958 and 1961, the leaping impala was located on the rear quarter panel and had no circle or oval surrounding it.
  • From 1962 and 1967, it was located on the front or rear quarter panel with a circle surrounding it.
  • From 1968 and 1985, there were no exterior emblems.  Only variations of the Impala script were used.  The emblem was reserved for the interior, usually on the dashboard and horn button although it was not used for every model year.
  • The 1994-1996 Impala SS had the emblem with an oval located on sail panel.
  • Since 2002, Impalas have featured the emblem with an oval located on the sail panel.