Tag Archives: Blue Oval

2013 Ford Taurus 2.0L EcoBoost Tested: Boost Sure, Eco Not So Much

By Austin Lindberg

The first Taurus blasted onto the scene in the mid-1980s as Ford’s volume sedan, stunning the automotive world with an aero-focused design that sent competitors scrambling and buyers storming into Blue Oval showrooms. (It subsequently appeared on seven straight 10Best Cars lists.) By 1992, the Taurus was the bestselling car in America, a title it held through 1995. But 1996 saw the Taurus stumble through a controversial redesign, and the badge disappeared for a spell in the mid-2000s before being resurrected on a larger car—the Fusion had taken over mid-sizer duties—when the Five Hundred was renamed. READ MORE ››

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Official: Toyota sells six of 10 of hybrids in California

By Damon Lowney

Toyota highlights its hybrid vehicle market dominance in California.

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In an apparent shot back at Ford’s increasing market share of electrified vehicles and claim that it accepts more Prius trade-ins for its own hybrids than any other car, Toyota has flexed a muscle and played the numbers game to put the Blue Oval in its place.

Leaning on its hybrid market dominance in California, the Japanese automaker stated that six out of 10 hybrids sold in the Golden State are Toyota models. And it keeps coming: Year-to-date through May 2013, Toyota sold five times more hybrids than Ford. One of every two hybrids in California is a Prius model. In addition, Toyota notes that it has sold 1.5 million Prius vehicles in the US, 90-percent of which are still on the road today.

Want more? We’ll let Bill Fay, Toyota’s group vice president and general manager of sales lay the smack down:

“The hybrid industry has become competitive, but our wide range of hybrid vehicles continue to deliver high value and strong attributes to both new and loyal customers. With sales of 5.3 million hybrids globally and over two million in the US, we are the undisputed leader in hybrid vehicle technology and remain committed to building on our momentum and growing the acceptance of hybrid technology throughout the US.”

And to think Toyota and Ford just ended their collaboration to make hybrid trucks together.

On one hand, those are indeed very impressive statistics, but there’s a flip side, as well. If 6 out of 10 Toyota hybrid sales come from California, that’s more ammunition that hybrids still aren’t a factor for most American new car buyers. As of 2012, only about 3.3 percent of new cars sold in the US were hybrids, of which California sales would clearly represent an inordinately large percentage. So while Toyota may be looking to take upstart Ford to the gas-electric woodshed, it’s clear larger struggles remain on the road to hybrid acceptance.

Continue reading Toyota sells six of 10 of hybrids in California

Toyota sells six of 10 of hybrids in California originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Ford F-150 gets CNG option

By Damon Lowney

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Ford is toiling away, installing heavy-duty engine components into select 3.7-liter V6s to allow them to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in addition to gasoline. That’s nothing new, but now, Ford has announced that it will offer the 2014 F-150 with this engine configuration, bringing the Blue Oval’s total number of CNG/LPG-friendly vehicles up to eight. The F-150 will be the only half-ton pickup on the market that can run on these gases.

Ford will charge $315 per vehicle to equip the optional engine, but the trucks won’t be ready to run on the alternative fuels straight from the factory and must be upfitted with additional equipment. A Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier will install a separate fuel system for the compressed gases at a cost of $7,500 to $9,500, depending on fuel tank size. With the right-size tank, the F-150 equipped with the CNG/LPG-prepped engine can go 750 miles on one tank of gas, according to Ford, averaging 23 miles per gallon.

The practice of offering flex-fuel vehicles is gaining momentum as businesses take advantage of cheap gas. CNG can be bought for $2.11/gallon on average (per gasoline equivalent), and sometimes for as little as $1.00 in some parts of the US, Ford states. “With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months,” says Jon Coleman, Ford’s fleet sustainability and technology manager. The automaker expects to sell a total of 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in the 2014 model year.

Check out the press release below to read the details, and to see what other vehicles Ford offers with the CNG/LPG package.

Continue reading 2014 Ford F-150 gets CNG option

2014 Ford F-150 gets CNG option originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Official: Ford hiring 800 more salaried workers than originally expected

By Damon Lowney

Ford US job creation infographic

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Ford is on a roll this year, with excellent quarterly earnings and better-than-expected vehicle sales leading to 800 more job opportunities with the Blue Oval. In January, Ford announced that it wanted to hire 2,200 salaried employees, but, since then, that figure has been revised to 3,000, representing a 36-percent increase over original projections. About 1,500 of those jobs remain, 80 percent of which are technical professional positions.

“Engineers and technical professionals are in as much demand as our cars, trucks and SUVs,” says Felicia Fields, Ford Group Vice President for Human Resources. Helping to spur this job growth are increasing market share on both the West and East Coast and robust demand for the Ford Escape and F-150.

To find job candidates, Ford is reaching out to them via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in addition to the company’s corporate career site. The Blue Oval is also ramping up its presence on college campuses.

One of Fords goals has been to create 12,000 hourly jobs in the US by 2015, and this latest announcement does alter that goal, Ford says, which is sitting the 75-percent mark since the company hired over 6,200 hourly employees last year. Learn more in the press release below.

Continue reading Ford hiring 800 more salaried workers than originally expected

Ford hiring 800 more salaried workers than originally expected originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Jul 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Report: Ford to build next F-150, outgoing model concurrently?

By Brandon Turkus

Ford's Atlas-based F-150 testing spy photo

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Ford is rumored to be considering concurrent production for old and new F-150 models in a bid to minimize supply chain disruptions and inventory. Automotive News is reporting that the Blue Oval will build both the current F-150 and its replacement, which we showed you testing just last month, side by side for about half a year before switching over entirely to next-generation production.

As IHS Automotive analyst Mike Jackson told AN, “In order to ramp up, you have to retool…and that means you have to take capacity offline.” Building both models alongside could allow Ford to cope with the still strong demand for the current F-150, while populating dealer supplies and working out supply chain kinks for the new model before making a full-time switch.

A loss of capacity when demand is so strong, even for a short period, could spell bad news for Ford, which nets an estimated 90 percent of its global profit on pickups and large SUVs. As AN states, Ford produces the F-150 in both Kansas City, Missouri and Dearborn, Michigan, which allows it to maintain some degree of flexibility in production. The new F-150 is expected to arrive at the 2014 North American International Auto Show as a 2015 model, with a design inspired by the Atlas Concept first shown at the Detroit Auto Show last January.

Ford to build next F-150, outgoing model concurrently? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Jul 2013 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Next-Gen Ford Mustang Reportedly to Launch as 2014.5 50th Anniversary Model

By John Lamm

New-car launches are a months-long rollout of new product these days. Fifty years ago, new cars were introduced in the fall and that was just about the end of it. So, 50 years ago, it was unusual when Ford debuted something called a Mustang in the spring, and called it a 1964.5 model. And, now, 50 years later—or just about—we find ourselves counting down the months to what we believe will be an early-2014 debut of the next-gen Mustang. And in these waiting months there has been a slow-but-steady leak of information. Mustangs Daily now reports that the new Stang will, indeed, be launched as a 2014.5, or at least the first 1000 examples, which also reportedly will be 50th Anniversary editions, will be.

The new Mustang will make use of the S550-designated platform and the long-promised independent rear suspension. The report says that these special editions will make use of a 450-hp 5.0-liter V-8. We assume—and we suspect we won’t be making asses out of anyone with such an assumption—that a hypothetical 50th Anniversary Mustang will come complete with requisite unique dash plaques and VIN numbers.



Producing a 2014.5 Mustang would be awfully fitting for Ford. Not only does the Blue Oval brand have a rich history that it’s never been shy about highlighting, but the Mustang has been the staple in the pony-car business while General Motors and Chrysler have come and gone as they pleased.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Rumormill: First 1K next-gen Mustangs to carry 2014 1/2 model year?

By Seyth Miersma

Next-gen Ford Mustang spy shots - profile view, camouflaged

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A new report from Mustangs Daily, citing insider sources at Ford, tells us that the Blue Oval will produce 1,000 next-generation Mustangs with the model year designation of 2014 ½, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the storied marque. The commemorative half-year designation is a rumor that’s been swirling in Mustang forums for quite some time now, and seems more plausible than ever with this most recent report. Certainly it’s not far-fetched to believe that Ford will want to make a big deal of the golden anniversary for its most-loved model.

The story (compiled by Drew Phillips, who runs the aforementioned Mustang site when he’s not directing the photography on these pages) goes on to say that the limited-run cars will be the first built on the new Mustang platform internally known as S550 (and spied testing in the attached gallery). Each car is said to carry a “special” VIN and build number, though no performance upgrades versus the 2015 cars to follow are in the works. A collector’s dream then, rather than a weekend racer’s.

First 1K next-gen Mustangs to carry 2014 1/2 model year? originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Report: Ford Australia to kill off FPV by 2014 in advance of Mustang return

By Brandon Turkus

Ford Falcon XR8 - front three-quarter view, black

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Ford seems to be having a good time yanking our friends in Australia about. First, there was the news that after 90 years, the Blue Oval would be ending Australian production, effectively killing the legendary Falcon sedan. Then, yesterday came the announcement that Oz would be getting the next-generation, global Ford Mustang in 2016. And now, we have news regarding Ford’s Australian tuning partner, FPV.

The group responsible for hot Falcons will be disbanded in 2014, according to Aussie newspaper The Age. FPV’s most recent creation, the GT Falcon, will be discontinued. This news isn’t a tremendous shock, as FPV was recently taken in-house by Ford. The tuning house’s death will not lead to any job loss.

Ford will reportedly continue building Falcons with the GT’s mechanicals, though. That means its 449-horsepower, supercharged V8 will live to fight another Holden. Along with the GT’s upgraded suspension and brakes, the new model will wear the unused XR8 badge, allowing Ford to continue building cars for enthusiasts without spending extra on the pricey styling bits of the GT Falcon.

The XR8 Falcon’s days will still be numbered, though. Falcon production is still on track to end, at which point the Mustang will look to take over the XR8’s performance reins. The Falcon will well and truly die when the Mustang takes over for it in the V8 Supercars series, and the US-built Taurus arrives to handle the sedan’s more domestic duties.

Ford Australia to kill off FPV by 2014 in advance of Mustang return originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Jul 2013 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Is Leasing a Car Smarter Than Buying?

By Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

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Buying a car can be expensive, and with budgets stretched to the breaking point, many would-be car buyers are looking at leasing as a possible lower-cost option. But is leasing a smart move?

In the following video, Motley Fool investment-planning editor Lauren Kuczala talks with longtime Fool contributor and financial planner Dan Caplinger about the pros and cons of leasing a car versus buying. Dan explains how leases work and goes through the pros and cons of leases, explaining how many automakers offer incentives for customers to get favorable lease terms. In addition, he discusses the recent decision from Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) to offer a lease-like financing option that’s technically not a lease but which includes some of the same attractive traits. Dan closes by offering guidance on how to decide whether leasing is right for you.

Ford offers lease incentives from time to time, and its ability to get customers into new vehicles has helped it turn itself around since the financial crisis. Yet there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We’ve outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool’s premium Ford research service. If you’re looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford’s prospects in coming years, you’ve come to the right place — click here to get started now.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Official: Ford Escort Concept goes back to basics

By Steven J. Ewing

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Here’s the thing about China: The folks buying cars there have a very different set of standards than shoppers in many other markets around the globe. While we all drool over hot metal with bold designs, and while we appreciate automakers going an extra step to inject even their cheapest offerings with aggressive and interesting cues, that sort of sheetmetal sex appeal doesn’t always sell in the People’s Republic. Case in point is Jaguar, which may be designing a more traditional-looking version of its XJ for the Chinese market, or more to the point of this story, Ford currently sells the less-exciting, last-generation Focus compact in China right alongside the new one.

So consider this new Shanghai-bound C-segment concept a preview of what’s to come for that more traditional, budget-minded, less-sexy market. More proof of this pudding: Ford’s even calling this concept the Escort – a nod to the Blue Oval‘s compact car days of yore, and a name that stirs up thoughts of basic, affordable transportation rather than great driving dynamics or bold design. “Customers in China described seeking a vehicle that is stylish – but not one that is arrogant or pretentious,” Ford states. And this new Escort concept previews a possibility of providing exactly that for this rapidly expanding automotive market.

What you’re looking at, then, is one of the most simple Ford designs we’ve seen of late, though it still incorporates all of the automaker’s latest DNA. The signature hexagonal grille is front and center, flanked by attractive LED headlamps and chrome-rimmed foglamp housings. The entire car’s design focuses on clean, smooth surfaces, with one strong character line flowing from front to back just below the beltline. We will say that the car looks decidedly more premium from the rear view, where narrow, horizontal taillamps with an LED accent give the car added visual width. Bland as it may be, it’s a handsome little concept, though fear what would likely happen if all of the conceptual details get dumbed down for a production model.

We aren’t able to see inside the concept, and no details have been released about what might lie under the hood. Ford is mostly using the Escort as a way to show Chinese customers what could be in store for a future product offering, especially since the automaker is committed to bringing 15 new products to China by the year 2015. Ford even plans to build five new plants in China by 2016 as part of a larger plan to open seven facilities throughout Asia-Pacific, with enough capacity to produce roughly 2.7 million vehicles annually in the region.

In addition to the Escort Concept, Ford will use the Shanghai Motor Show to debut the Chinese-market Mondeo, complete with its new 1.5-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder engine, as well as the new Fiesta ST. Scroll down for the full press blast.

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From: http://feeds.autoblog.com/~r/weblogsinc/autoblog/~3/46d2k_SEMnI/

Can Ford Beat GM in China?

By John Rosevear, The Motley Fool

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Changan Ford general manager Nigel Harris presented the Focus ST at last year’s Auto China show. The high-performance Focus ST is the latest variant of Ford’s hot-selling Focus to arrive in China. Photo credit: Ford Motor Company

There’s no doubt that Ford has had a lot of success in China lately.

The latest Ford Focus, introduced in China last spring, has been a huge hit – big enough to make the Focus the world’s best-selling car in 2012, according to analysts at R.L. Polk.

But the Focus was just the first of a wave of new Fords set to come to China over the next few years. The Kuga SUV, a twin to the Escape sold here, arrived in February – and sales have already been strong.

How strong? This strong: Ford’s sales in China are up 54% so far this year. In just a few short years, Ford has gone from near-invisibility to outselling Toyota in China.

But can Ford’s Chinese operation catch up to longtime nemesis General Motors , which has had a huge head start?

GM is already one of China’s giants
It’s a daunting proposition. In terms of total vehicle sales, GM is the China market leader, with archrival Volkswagen close behind. GM had a commanding 15.6% share of the Chinese market last year, outselling Ford by more than six to one. VW was second with 14.5%.

But many of those sales aren’t “passenger vehicles”, they’re small commercial vans. GM has a stake in a joint venture that makes inexpensive little commercial vans sold under the Wuling brand name. It’s a minority position, and it doesn’t make a ton of money for the General, but it comes with something GM values very highly – the right to count all of Wuling’s sales as GM‘s.

But if you factor out the Wulings, it’s VW that looks like the top dog. According to LMC Automotive figures cited by Reuters, VW had 19.5% of China‘s passenger vehicle market last year, to GM‘s 10%.

But no matter how you slice it, catching up to GM will be a daunting task for Ford. The Blue Oval had a 3% market share in China in 2012, about the size of Subaru’s presence here in the U.S. And while Ford has already gained ground – the company had a 3.6% share in the first quarter of 2013 – it clearly has a long way to go to catch up to GM.

Ford is investing big for major growth
That said, Ford has geared up to expand in a big way – but not in pursuit of GM, necessarily. Instead, the Blue Oval is in pursuit of profit growth. Ford has been investing big in new factories, new engineering centers, and infrastructure in China and other parts of Asia.

Despite that big investment – almost $5 billion – Ford’s Asian operation, the bulk of

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/17/can-ford-beat-gm-in-china/

2 Winners and 2 Losers From Cheap Pump Prices

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

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Park the Prius: Pump prices are heading lower for the second straight summer. But even as individual drivers get more for less, shifting preferences could sideline some auto investors. I’ll look at the price predictions, and I’ll outline two winners and two losers from this latest trend.

Pump it up
The Energy Information Administration released its 2013 Summer Fuels Outlook report (link opens a PDF) this week, and things are looking up for gas prices to head down. According to the report, summer retail gasoline prices will drop to a national average of $3.63 per gallon, $0.03 below 2012’s summer and $0.08 below 2011’s price tag.

Two winners
Heavyweights win on this latest news. In the game of supply and demand, cheaper gas prices make gas guzzlers more affordable for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Ford and General Motors are revving up their latest line of pickups, and new sales could pour in with less wear on drivers’ wallets. General Motors announced last week that its new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra will sport the most fuel-efficient V-8 engines in their market. The Silverado’s 5.3-liter engine will get a whopping 23 mpg, with more pulling power than any of its competitors.

In an ironic twist of fate, Ford’s F-150 could make even more gains than GM. The F-series has been America’s best-selling truck for more than 30 years, and GM‘s efficiency ace-in-the-hole could come up short of toppling the Blue Oval‘s omnipotence. Ford sold 14,000 more trucks than GM in March, and cheap gas could keep this upward trend constant through summer months.

Who killed the electric car?
Innovation drives our economy, but the greatest solutions only emerge from the greatest problems. With high oil supplies and cheap prices, who needs fuel-efficient cars? Tesla Motors is a pure-play electric automaker that could feel a major summer squeeze. Founder and CEO Elon Musk is trying fancy new financing tricks to make his luxury vehicles more affordable, but the price might just not be right for the gas-vs.-electric argument.

Likewise, Toyota Motor‘s fuel-efficient fleet could suffer significantly. The automaker’s Prius has long demanded a price premium for its light consumption and currently controls 68% of the non-plug-in hybrid market. Overall hybrid sales grew 14% in Q1 2013, but Ford’s F-Series and GM‘s Chevy Silverado remain the No. 1 and No. 2 best-selling vehicles in America. Cheap gas prices certainly won’t help lightweights like the Prius topple those top picks.

When macro affects micro
Summer pump prices could put fuel efficiency on the back burner, significantly affecting upcoming sales for your investment. But cheap gas for a few months is no substitute for visionary engineering and innovation. The companies that can consistently create the best vehicle at the best value will win out in the long term, and investors should make their portfolio picks accordingly.

Worried about Ford?
If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/14/2-winners-and-2-losers-from-cheap-pump-prices/

1 Auto Stock With Room to Run

By Chris Hill, The Motley Fool

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The following video is from Wednesday’s MarketFoolery podcast, in which host Chris Hill and analysts Jason Moser and Joe Tenebruso discuss the top business and investing stories of the day.

Shares of CarMax  hit an all-time high on Wednesday after fourth-quarter profits rose 13%. To what extent is CarMax competing with Ford , General Motors , and Autonation ? What’s the opportunity for CarMax going forward? In this installment of MarketFoolery, our analysts discuss the future of CarMax.

Worried about Ford?
If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has run its course, relax — there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We’ve outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool’s premium Ford research service. If you’re looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford’s prospects in coming years, you’ve come to the right place — click here to get started now.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Ford China Sales Surge Again

By John Rosevear, The Motley Fool

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Changan Ford executive vice president Luo Minggang presented the Kuga SUV, a twin to the U.S. market‘s Escape, at last year’s Auto China show. Photo credit: Ford Motor Company

It turns out that March was a huge month for Ford in China: The Blue Oval reported on Tuesday that its sales in the Middle Kingdom were up 65% in March over the year-ago period.

That result capped a record-breaking quarter in China for Ford and its joint-venture partners. Ford totaled 186,596 wholesale deliveries in China in the first quarter, up 54% over the first quarter of 2012.

These gains are particularly impressive because growth of the overall auto market in China has been quite subdued in recent months. But Ford’s ambitious plan to establish itself as a major player in China looks to be rapidly gathering steam.

After a late start, success for the Blue Oval in China
Ford was a latecomer to the Chinese auto party. Years after General Motors and Volkswagen had established themselves as major players in the market, Ford had only a token presence in the region, selling just a small number of cars and trucks.

But a few years ago, Ford CEO Alan Mulally moved aggressively to start changing that. Ford has since begun a massive expansion plan in China, investing over $5 billion in a series of new factories and engineering centers.

Early last year, the company said that it would launch 15 new models in China by 2015. The first of those new models, the Focus compact, arrived last April and has been a big success since.

And now it looks like Ford is racking up its second big success, with an SUV that will be a familiar face – if not exactly a familiar name – to American Ford-followers.

Another hit brewing, this time an SUV
Ford’s new-to-China Kuga SUV, pictured above, is a twin in all but name to the Escape SUV that has been racking up big sales numbers here in the U.S. Launched here last year, the latest Escape has been a good hit for Ford, posting substantial sales gains over its popular and well-regarded predecessor.

Now Ford has launched its twin in China, and early results are looking good. Ford sold nearly 10,000 Kugas in China in March, the model’s first full month on sale. SUVs are an increasingly hot market segment in China, and Ford is following up the Kuga’s launch with two more SUV models from its global portfolio: The EcoSport, a Fiesta-based small SUV originally developed for emerging markets, and the familiar Explorer.

More new products are set to arrive soon
Next up for Ford in China: The all-new Mondeo, a mid-sized sedan that is a twin in all but name to the U.S. market Fusion. The Mondeo is set to go on sale in China next month, and its striking good …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

The Polk Data Is in: Is Now the Time to Buy Ford?

By Blake Bos, The Motley Fool

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Polk Data, a worldwide leader in auto insight and marketing solutions, has released a report showing that the Ford Focus was the best-selling nameplate for 2012. The report also details a lot of strong numbers looking into 2013. Is this a clear win for investors, or are there some risks to consider here? In this video, Motley Fool industrials analyst Blake Bos breaks down the report, and takes a look at the fundamentals of Ford, to show investors what the key things to watch with this company will be this year.

Worried about Ford?
If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has run its course, relax — there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We’ve outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool’s premium Ford research service. If you’re looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford’s prospects in coming years, you’ve come to the right place — click here to get started now.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

How the Japanese Government Is Hurting Ford and GM

By Brendan Byrnes and Austin Smith, The Motley Fool

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In this video, Motley Fool analyst Brendan Byrnes describes how global currency fluctuations are hurting U.S. automakers in their domestic market. The new Japanese government has enacted policies that devalue the yen relative to the dollar. This allows Japanese automakers, Toyota especially, to make more money off cars made in Japan. This also allows Japanese automakers to price their vehicles more competitively to U.S. cars. The devalued yen and consequent improved price structure for high-quality Japanese cars spells bad news for U.S. automakers.

Worried about Ford?

If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has run its course, relax — there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We’ve outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool’s premium Ford research service. If you’re looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford’s prospects in coming years, you’ve come to the right place — click here to get started now.

var FoolAnalyticsData = FoolAnalyticsData || []; FoolAnalyticsData.push({ eventType: “TickerReportPitch”, contentByline: “Brendan Byrnes and Austin Smith“, contentId: “cms.30229”, contentTickers: “NYSE:F, NYSE:TM, NYSE:HMC, NYSE:GM“, contentTitle: “How the Japanese Government Is Hurting Ford and GM“, hasVideo: “True”, pitchId: “31”, …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Surprisingly, This Automaker Has the Most Loyal Customers

By Brendan Byrnes and Austin Smith, The Motley Fool

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A recent survey shows that Ford has the most loyal customers of any major American car company. In this video, Brendan Byrnes discusses how Ford is keeping its customers, particularly buyers of pickup trucks. He notes that while Ford has been able to fend off encroachment from Japanese and other automakers, General Motors hasn’t been so lucky. Even though the survey listed Chevy at No. 5 in customer loyalty, the remaining GM brands were below average. Ford has a solid customer base and reputation in the United States, but what companies could pose a threat? Find out more in the video.

Worried about Ford?

If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has run its course, relax — there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We’ve outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool’s premium Ford research service. If you’re looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford’s prospects in coming years, you’ve come to the right place — click here to get started now.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Ford's Stock: One Serious Problem

By Daniel Miller, The Motley Fool

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Cancer is deadly for many different reasons. For one, it often lies undetected, while causing bodily harm for a lengthy amount of time. Ford has a similar problem, one that doesn’t fully show up on the balance sheet or financials and often goes unknown among investors: an underfunded pension.

It’s important that investors are aware of this issue, and since the underfunded pension can be a little complicated, I’ll explain it step by step, tell you how it could be turned into a positive, and what Ford’s plan to tackle the problem is.

Grasping the size
To give you a sense of how large the underfunded pension issue is, since it doesn’t fully show up as a number on the financial sheets, I’ll compare it to automotive debt, as both are obligations due from the company.

Ford’s roughly $86 billion in total debt is misleading, because that includes the financial division, where it takes on huge loans at low interest rates and dishes the money out to consumers for financing. The profit in this sector nearly offsets Ford’s losses in Europe. So if you take out the financial division, which adds approximately $72 billion of debt to the books, you find that Ford’s real automotive debt sits at about $14 billion. Remember that number.

In contrast, it’s estimated that Ford’s pension is underfunded by about $18.7 billion. That’s more than its automotive debt, and it’s only about $6 billion shy of the massive $23.4 billion private loan it took out (and eventually paid back) before the recession hit. Ford put up its legendary Blue Oval as collateral on that loan. It’s a big number.

Now, don’t panic, Let’s look at why this pension number is so large, how it will change going forward, and what Ford is doing about it.

What inflates the number
Low interest rates are supposed to be a good thing. They certainly allowed Ford to borrow money cheaply and use it to offer discounts to help sell cars or other company interests. But these rock-bottom rates also inflate the underfunded pension number, because they cause Ford to lower its discount rate, which essentially defines how large pension requirements need to be. Ford had to lower its rate from 4.6% to 3.84%, appearing to wipe out any progress it made on paying into the pension funds over the past year. 

But hang in there, There is good news, too!

From debt to surplus
Let’s say that in eight years, the housing market has steadily improved, the automotive market has been healthy, the economy is more stable than ever, and politicians are working together in harmony. Well, OK, scratch the part about the politicians. Anyway, imagine, too, that interest rates have risen for the past few years and the discount rates have followed. This hypothetical situation would significantly change the look of Ford’s underfunded pension. It would narrow the gap, and it’s possible that if Ford had been …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Ford's Q1 Earnings: An Early Preview

By John Rosevear, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

What should we expect when Ford reports earnings later this month?

One thing seems a safe bet: Ford will post a solid profit. But how will it compare with last year’s? And how will the various challenges that Ford has been facing around the world affect the Blue Oval‘s bottom line?

The engine of Ford’s global profits
Ford’s North American unit is the “engine” of the company’s business, as CEO Alan Mulally often says. With many European nations facing deep recessions, an aggressive effort by Ford to invest for expansion in Asia, and now increasing signs of challenges to Ford’s bottom line in South America (more on that in a moment), it’ll be up to North America to post a strong performance to power Ford’s bottom line.

Fortunately, the signs have been pretty good on that front. Ford’s U.S. sales made steady gains during the quarter, up 22% in January, 9% in February, and 6% in March, even as the overall U.S. auto market showed signs of cooling off.

More importantly for Ford’s bottom line, full-sized pickup sales have been strong. Ford’s F-Series lineup had its best first-quarter sales total since 2007, as a slowly improving U.S. economy led to an upturn in pickup purchases across the industry.

That’s really important. Ford sells a huge number of F-Series pickups every month — 67,513 in March alone. Not only are the volumes high, but pickups are high-margin products as well. That means they contribute disproportionately to Ford’s bottom line in North America.

Fortunately, it looks as if that contribution was a hefty one in the first quarter. That bodes very well for the company’s first-quarter result in North America, which should compare well with the $2.1 billion result it posted in the first quarter of 2012.

But the picture elsewhere in the world is a less cheery one.

Trouble in Europe and South America
In Europe, where Ford is the No. 2 automaker after Volkswagen, steep recessions in many countries have pummeled new-car sales. Ford has been hammered more than most in the past few months, as the company’s reluctance to match rivals’ deep discounts has cost it quite a few sales.

Ford has a comprehensive turnaround plan in progress for Europe, but it still expects to lose as much as $2 billion in the region in 2013. It’s likely that first-quarter losses will be much greater than the $149 million it lost in Europe in the year-ago quarter, perhaps $500 million or more.

In South America, where Ford made $54 million in the first quarter of 2012, the company has already forecast a first-quarter loss of about $300 million. The problems are largely external: Weakening local currencies, inflation pressures, and stepped-up competition from market newcomers will all weigh on Ford, as Ford Americas President Joe Hinrichs told analysts last week. Ford still expects to break even in South America in 2013, but the near-term results could be challenging.

It’s …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

March Auto Sales Prove America Loves Its Trucks

By Blake Bos, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

It was a great month for auto sales this month, with big sales numbers for several automakers, including very strong truck sales. In the following video, Motley Fool industrials analyst Blake Bos tells investors what March’s numbers mean for the recovering economy as a whole and for several of the automakers today. He also highlights his favorite picks to continue strongly into 2013.

Worried about Ford?
If you’re concerned that Ford’s turnaround has run its course, relax — there’s good reason to think that the Blue Oval still has big growth opportunities ahead. We’ve outlined those opportunities in detail, in the Fool’s premium Ford research service. If you’re looking for some freshly updated guidance to Ford’s prospects in the coming years, you’ve come to the right place — click here to get started now.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance