Saturday, August 30, 2014

2015 Ford Transit Van

A media event demonstrated the driving versatility of the Transit as Ford launches its E-Series replacement.

A group of automotive media representatives descended onto "Paris of the Plains" (a.k.a. Kansas City) in early June to test out the newest iteration of the 2015 Ford Transit, actually nine versions of it to be exact.

After a quick presentation from the Ford execs, we were unleashed on the high-, medium- and high roof versions of the Transit, as well as three different body lengths, and passenger and cargo versions. The first part of the test drive was held on a closed course next to Kansas City's Kemper Arena. The car took to the slalom turns and quick stops quite easily, and made its way through the turnaround section quickly with little effort on the part of the driver.

After spending an hour driving the course with each van, including the 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6, 3.5-liter EcoBoost, and 3.2-liter I-5 Power Stroke Turbo Diesel engines powering us, the group split into reporter/Ford technician pairs to make their way around the Kansas City area.

The first stop was the Ford assembly plant, which is running three shifts to meet expected demand for the E-Series replacement. As I made my way onto the freeway, a quick press of the pedal pumped the EcoBoost engine to speeds matching the flow of traffic without having to cause any congestion. The fuel economy seemed undaunted by my rapid and necessary accelerations, as I constantly checked the gas gauge along the way.

Photo by Stephane Babcock.
The interior had all of the creature comforts you'd expect in the van, but everything was easily in reach, from the in-dash touchscreen to the cup and cellphone holders on either side of the steering wheel. There were also multiple USB ports so that you can charge your cellphone and play music from your iPod through the vehicle's audio system at the same time (for those of us who do not have an iPhone). The seating was comfortable and offered a helpful view of the road ahead.

Whether taking it across Kansas City freeways or through city and rural roads, the new Transit made for a comfortable and easy to hahttp://www.government-fleet.comndle drive, even when the navigator forgot to inform you to make a turn and a split-second change had to be made on a well-traveled city road. Photos by Stephanie Babcock.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Aluminum Parts Save 707 Pounds in F-150 Weigh-In

Ford executives showed two trucks on scales to demonstrate the light-weighting of the new truck when compared to the 2014 model-year version.

Ford's extensive use of aluminum pared more than 700 pounds from the weight of its new F-150 pickup truck the company weighed for the media at an event in Dearborn, Mich., last week.

Ford executives showed two trucks on scales to demonstrate the light-weighting of the new truck when compared to the 2014 model-year version. The numbers supported earlier estimates of weight savings due to use of aluminum.

A 2015 F-150 Lariat SuperCrew 4x4 with a 2.7L V-6 EcoBoost engine scaled at 4,942 pounds, while a comparable 2014 F-150 Lariat SuperCrew 4x4 with a 5.0L V-8 weighed 5,674 pounds.

About 25 pounds of the difference can be attributed to the slightly heavier V-8 in the ’14 truck, said Mike Levine, Ford's truck communications manager. The rest of the 732-pound difference, or 707 pounds, is due to use of aluminum body panels and other parts.

Otherwise the two trucks were set up the same, with one-eighth of a tank of fuel, plus coolant, oil and washer fluid.

Ford has not released the curb weights or gross vehicle weights of the 2015 F-150s, but Levine said the curb weight of a pickup truck is measured without fluids. Aluminum weight savings for smaller Super- and Regular-Cab pickups will be less.

Ford will offer four engines for the 2015 F-150: the 2.7-liter EcoBoost and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost, both turbocharged V-6s; a non-turbo 3.5 V-6; and the 5-liter V-8. All make healthy amounts of power and torque, so no larger engines will be available. 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

10 Driver Friendly Features the Ford F-150 Team Thought of So Customers Wouldn't Have To

  • Ford engineers designed 10 features that make interacting with the all-new F-150 easier
  • These 10 features include a tailgate step large enough to fit a full-size work boot, raised tactile keypad buttons for keyless entry, and finger indents on the back of the steering wheel
  • Customer research conducted by Ford human factor engineers led the team to cluster the control buttons together for ease of use; customer feedback also drove the decision to keep the instrument cluster free of entertainment information
There are 10 features of the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup that were designed to satisfy customers without them ever even noticing. “If I do my job, the customer simply intuits that things are right – both inside and outside of his truck – without even having to think about it,” said Cary Diehl, Ford human factors engineer, who worked on the design and development of the all-new F-150.  

The 10 things F-150 engineers thought of

1. Hard buttons on keypad: Designers wanted smooth capacitive touch keypad buttons on the outside of the driver-side door, but pickup truck drivers prefer tactile feedback, allowing easier usability for when they’re wearing gloves. For customers who wear bifocals, hard buttons also enable input by feel, instead of having to tilt their head back to read numerals.

2. Beltline armrest on front doors: The beltline on the front doors is wide enough to accommodate most arms with the window up. The feature could be considered an armrest, and is at the same height as the center armrest.


3. Sculpted, finger relief inside door handle for easy hold: When grabbing the inside handle, the hand is already holding the door – a helpful feature to avoid losing control of the door on a windy day.

4. Buttons clustered for ease of use: Customer surveys showed a strong preference for controls clustered together. All lighting controls – headlamps, side spotlights, bed light – are grouped together on the left-hand side of the instrument panel, while all radio controls are to the right and below with the climate controls. Towing and other controls are to the right of the steering wheel as well.

5. Steering wheel feel: Finger indents remain on the back side of the steering wheel, a feature that on some competitor trucks is now smooth. These indents allow a lighter feel on the wheel for ease of maneuverability, especially when backing up a trailer or off-roading.

6. MyView productivity screen customization: Because each customer uses the truck differently, the importance of specific features can vary. The truck is the “multi-tool” of vehicles. Some truck owners haul produce to farmers markets, while others tow horse trailers or go off-roading, making it tricky sometimes for engineers to determine the most essential information to include in the instrument cluster. Ford’s solution is MyView, which allows truck customers to sort and organize their top seven favorite gauges in the cluster on the 2015 F-150’s 8-inch screen. One button click can shift between individual tire pressure, trailer information, off-road mode or trip fuel – whichever their favorites are.

7. Entertainment information exclusively in center stack: Ford made a data-driven decision to not include any radio or entertainment features in the instrument panel cluster behind the steering wheel. “Our customers were adamant that trucks are different from cars, and vehicle information is essential,” Diehl explained. “Their truck is their tool, and they need to know what it’s doing. Other stuff can be in the center of the dashboard, or what we call the center stack.” The only entertainment information that appears in the instrument cluster of the F-150 are incoming calls and turn-by-turn directions.

8. Four-spoke steering wheel: F-150’s traditional, four-spoke design allows for a comfortable grip on the lower portion of the steering wheel. Other pickup truck manufacturers have closed off the bottom portion of the steering wheel.

9. Grooves in tailgate handle: For ease of grip and use, grooves in the tailgate handle allow a customer to open and close the tailgate with one hand.

10. Large box step: Ford made sure there was enough surface area on the box step of F-150 for a customer to place a full-size work boot – both to stand on the step and to push it back under the bed when not in use.

Always Built Ford Tough From nose to tailgate, the 2015 F-150 is an entirely new vehicle, right down to its signature feature – an all-new, fully boxed ladder frame with more high-strength steel than ever to make the truck stronger yet lighter. For the first time, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloys are used throughout the F-150 body. These alloys, already used in aerospace, commercial transportation and other industries, make the new truck’s body lighter, stronger and more resistant to dents. Overall, F-150 is up to 700 pounds lighter, helping it tow and haul more, accelerate and stop faster, and operate more efficiently.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 186,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Secrets of the All-New Ford F-150 Seamless Sliding Rear Window

  •     Ford to launch new seamless sliding rear window design, available on the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 – the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 yet
  •     New technology hides window seams, setting a new trend for power sliders by improving looks and functionality while reducing components and manufacturing complexity
  •     Seamless sliding rear window was developed through a Ford and Magna International association
When people see the all-new Ford F-150 for the first time, they tend to do two things: First, they tap their knuckles against the high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body, and then they marvel at the pickup truck’s available segment-first seamless sliding rear window.

The seamless design conceals the vertical seams that mark the edges of conventional pickup truck sliding rear windows, creating a smooth opening when viewed from outside. Developed by global automotive supplier Magna International, in association with Ford, the first-to-market design sets a new trend for power sliders by reducing component needs and improving overall functionality and manufacturing efficiency.

“Delivering the latest in innovation and technology to our customer is a top priority for Ford,” said Noah Mass, Ford body mechanisms manager. “The seamless sliding rear window is another great example of the intricate detail that goes into producing the next-generation F-150, setting it apart from any pickup on the market today.”

Standard sliding rear windows typically contain three pieces of glass – left and right panes that don’t move plus the sliding portion in the middle, all held together by a support structure that requires numerous components. The seamless sliding rear window uses only two pieces of glass – the exterior surround and the sliding portion, reducing build componentry and complexity. The window’s opening is the same size as the outgoing design.

In addition to its streamlined looks, the window’s two-piece design enables continuous uninterrupted defrost capability for the larger surrounding glass.

The new design also contributes to vehicle weight savings, as the seamless power slider uses a lighter window control module. Overall, up to 700 pounds have been saved through the use of smarter design and advanced materials, helping the all-new F-150 tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, and contributing to efficiency. All-New F-150 Seamless Sliding Rear Window

“We designed the seamless sliding rear window to deliver not only a new look and improved functionality, but also to start a trend in the truck sliding window market,” said Troy Tooker, design engineering manager for Magna International. “With pickup sliders being one of our core products, we wanted to show our leadership and raise the bar on the new F-150.”

All-new Ford F-150 – the future of trucks The 2015 Ford F-150 is the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 ever – setting the standard for the future of trucks. Its signature fully boxed ladder frame is all-new, with more high-strength steel than ever – making the truck both stronger and lighter.

High-strength, military-grade aluminum is used throughout the F-150 body for the first time, improving dent and ding resistance and also saving weight.

When it arrives in showrooms later this year, the all-new F-150 will have undergone the equivalent of more than 10 million miles of torture testing to ensure it meets or exceeds Built Ford Tough standards. 2015 Ford F-150 Platinum

In addition to an all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost® engine offering, a complete lineup of powertrains lets customers tailor the toughest, smartest, most capable pickup truck ever to their needs. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine returns, an all-new normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 debuts and there is an improved 5.0-liter V8.

F-150 is part of the Ford F-Series lineup. Now in its 66th year, F-Series has been the best-selling truck in America for 37 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle in America for 32 consecutive years. The all-new F-150 will be manufactured at Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri.

 About Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 186,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

About Magna International Magna is a leading global automotive supplier with 317 manufacturing operations and 83 product development, engineering and sales centers in 29 countries. We have over 130,000 employees focused on delivering superior value to its customers through innovative products and processes, and World Class Manufacturing. Magna’s product capabilities include producing body, chassis, interior, exterior, seating, powertrain, electronic, vision, closure and roof systems and modules, as well as complete vehicle engineering and contract manufacturing. Common Shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (MG) and the New York Stock Exchange (MGA). For further information about Magna, visit

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ford and DTE Team Up to Build Michigan’s Largest Solar Array

Ford Motor Co. is working with DTE Energy to build a solar carport that could provide enough energy to power more than 150 homes for a year. The new carport at the Ford's headquarters will provide employees with 360 covered parking spaces and 30 charging stations for plug-invehicles.

DTE Energy will be funding the project that's scheduled to begin in September, and expected to be completed by early 2015, according to Ford.

The solar canopy will have the capacity to generate 1.038 megawatts of electricity. The new solar array will be the second-largest in the Midwest, following the 1.1-megawatt facility at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio.

The deal with Ford is a part of a DTE initiative called SolarCurrents. The program hopes to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ford, Suppliers Help Develop Industry-First Technologies for Mustang, F-150; Working Together Key to Ford's Aggressive 2014 Product Launches

  •     Ford announces details on innovative techniques used to develop its all-new 2015 Mustang and F-150 – two of 23 products coming to market globally in 2014 that are the result of the company’s strong supplier relationships
  •     Ford’s Aligned Business Framework with its Matched Pairs and Executive Business Technology Review initiatives help guide the company’s process to attract the industry’s best technologies
  •     Ford strives to be suppliers’ customer of choice through the industry’s highest product refresh rates, commitment to product excellence and innovation, and clear brand positioning

Ford Motor Company today announced details on new development techniques used to create its all-new Mustang and F-150, originating with the automaker’s suppliers. As Ford embarks on its most aggressive product launch year to date, with 23 launches globally – 16 in North America – the company is looking to its suppliers to help differentiate its products in the global marketplace, while continuing to meet customer expectations for safety, quality, sustainability and technology.

“As part of our One Ford plan, our suppliers are critical to creating profitable growth for all,” said Hau Thai-Tang, group vice president, Ford Global Purchasing. “With the industry’s highest product refresh rates, commitment to product excellence and innovation, and clear brand positioning, Ford is a preferred customer with the supply base.”

At the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminar, Thai-Tang outlined several industry-first, Ford-supplier technologies that are being introduced on new 2015 products including:

  •     Quarter windows for 2015 Mustang 50 Years Limited Edition: Rather than a traditional plastic or metal louver that sits on top of the glass, Ford worked with Magna International to create quarter windows consisting of an industry-first louvered glass. The result is a modern homage to a classic design cue that is unique to the Mustang 50 Years Limited Edition
  •  Hydroformed A-pillar and roof rails, 2015 Mustang: To deliver top performance with the most efficient headroom package and weight, Ford worked with Schuler and Midway to engineer the heaviest-gauge steel hydroformed A-pillar and roof rails. Through the collaboration, torsional stiffness increases 28 percent for the new car while the body-in-white is lighter than the previous model
  •  Stronger, lighter high-strength steel frame, 2015 F-150: As part of Ford’s collaboration with Metalsa, the company used tailor-rolled blanks with variable material thickness, patented structures that reduce material usage without decreasing performance, increased high-strength steel from 22 percent to 77 percent and improved joining to take more than 60 pounds out of the frame while improving rigidity and enabling higher towing and hauling ratings
  • Segment-first LED headlamps, 2015 F-150: Ford collaborated with OSRAM and Flex-n-Gate to design an innovative full-solid-state headlamp design that saves energy, is designed for longevity, and casts a much brighter and clearer light down the road than halogen or incandescent lamps. A jewel-like optical cube channels light energy from a single LED chip to provide optimal lighting and visibility

“Considering the impact suppliers have on our business, with 70 percent of the value of the vehicle being purchased from our supplier partners, our suppliers are critical to our ability to offer attractive solutions to our customers,” said Thai-Tang. “Ford’s Aligned Business Framework, which we introduced close to ten years ago, fosters an environment of transparency and will continue to guide our close relationships with our suppliers.”

Strong ties with suppliers
Ford has relationships with more than 1,100 production suppliers operating at more than 4,600 manufacturing sites that produce 130,000 parts for inclusion in vehicles the company sells. Because of the integral role its suppliers play in the company’s overall growth and sustainability, Ford works to foster a business environment that is both creative and transparent, leading to new innovations and acceleration in the development of new vehicles.

A core component of Ford’s strong supplier relationship is its Matched Pairs system, an internal alignment initiative between its product development and purchasing departments. Through the system, not only are the technical and commercial strategies aligned, but members from each department are paired so that decisions are made in tandem from the beginning. This approach increases collaboration from product design through procurement, and simplifies communication by reducing the points of contact for each commodity. The alignment of the two departments means they share a common cost objective, and improves interaction with suppliers by allowing them to engage directly at the right level.

The Matched Pairs system is part of Ford’s Aligned Business Framework. It enables supplier innovations to reach customers quicker by providing more robust tracking of new technologies, from idea to implementation. The framework encourages more communication between suppliers and senior Ford leaders, offers greater opportunities to increase scale, and engages suppliers earlier in the product design process. Ford has more than 100 Aligned Business Framework suppliers.

Another framework initiative helping to spur supplier innovation is the Executive Business Technology Review. This allows Ford’s senior leadership team from product development and purchasing to experience suppliers’ latest technologies through a show-and-tell, and for Ford to potentially be the first automaker to introduce these technologies to drivers around the world. Key technologies introduced through the review include Ford’s hands-free liftgate, active park assist and lane-keeping system, which debuted on various 2012 and 2013 Ford vehicles. Ford will continue to leverage its Aligned Business Framework to provide a systematic structure for suppliers to introduce new technologies to Ford customers.

“Many technologies on the road today were developed as a result of our supplier relationships,” said Thai-Tang. “We will continue to strive to be our suppliers’ customer of choice through our continued new product introductions and emphasis on technology excellence.”
About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 186,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Real World Testing: 2015 Ford F-150

Two and a half years before production Ford secretly tested six prototype F-150s with high-strength aluminum cargo boxes. The goal was to prove the durability of aluminum alloy through real-world extreme experiences that ensured the new F-150 could stand up to the tough work of our customers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

12' Harbor Contractor Body On Ford F450 Tour

Here's a tour of a new 12' Harbor Contractor Body mounted on a new Ford F450 chassis. The Contractor Body is a very popular body for all the reasons explained in the video and more. See more about Northside Ford Trucks at

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mark Your Calendar: Work Truck Show 2015 and 2016 Dates Announced

FARMINGTON HILLS, MI (July 28, 2014) — North America’s largest work truck event will return to Indianapolis, IN, where it has enjoyed sustained success over the past four years. NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry has committed to hosting The Work Truck Show® at the Indiana Convention Center through 2016.

The Work Truck Show® 2015
March 4–6, 2015
Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN
Educational programming, including the Green Truck Summit, begins March 3

The Work Truck Show® 2016
March 2–4, 2016
Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN
Educational programming, including the Green Truck Summit, begins March 1

“Our many successful years in Indianapolis have allowed us to expand The Work Truck Show in both size and scope,” says Steve Carey, NTEA executive director. “The trade show floor has grown each year the event has been held in the city, and the extensive slate of educational sessions has evolved to meet changing industry needs. In 2015, The Work Truck Show will provide attendees with the latest information needed to make their operations more efficient, capable and profitable.”

Each year, The Work Truck Show brings together more than 10,000 truck fleet managers, manufacturers, distributors, dealers, equipment buyers and maintenance personnel. It features more than 500,000 square feet of the newest vocational trucks, vans and equipment, ride-and-drives and opportunities to connect with other work truck industry professionals.

Registration for The Work Truck Show 2015 opens in October. For more information, visit or call 1-800-441-6832.

Connect with the NTEA on Facebook at, and join the Work Truck Show conversation on Twitter at @WorkTruckShow and with the official hashtag: #wts15.

Established in 1964, NTEA, the Association for the Work Truck Industry, represents approximately 1,650 companies that manufacture, distribute, install, sell and repair commercial trucks, truck bodies, truck equipment, trailers and accessories. Buyers of work trucks and the major commercial truck chassis manufacturers also belong to the Association. NTEA provides in-depth technical information, education, and member programs and services, and produces The Work Truck Show. The Association maintains its administrative headquarters in suburban Detroit and government relations offices in Washington, DC, and Ottawa, ON, Canada.

Editor’s Note: High-resolution photos from the The Work Truck Show 2014 are available for download in the online pressroom at

Friday, August 1, 2014

2015 Ford F-450 Superduty Video Review

We recently had the chance to drive the full lineup of 2015 Ford Super Dutys, some of which are relatively unchanged from 2014 with the exception of the newly upgraded and tuned 6.7-liter V-8 turbo-diesel and stronger transmission combination. The new engine leads the HD segment with 440 horsepower and 860 pounds-feet of torque and feels impressive, but that singular change does not make up for all of the Super Duty's faults.

After a full-blown media test-drive event we were able to take an all-new F-450 Super Duty (which does offer a stronger front axle, rear springs, steering components, torque converter, and an upgraded transmission) from West Virginia to Detroit. The good thing is that we spent enough time behind the wheel to be sufficiently impressed with this new truck and powertrain. The problem was that we weren't towing or hauling anything (in fact, we made the run completely empty), which meant we had to deal an exceptionally stiff and punishing suspension.

Still, there is a lot to like about this up-sized one-ton Super Duty, so we found some nice spots along our route to stop and talk about the truck. Yes, this is the monster that has Ford stating it is the best-In-class towing champ of the segment, but we can say that the trade-off (the unloaded ride quality) might be too much for many pickup truck customers to handle.

If you're thinking about buying this truck, you better have a sizable trailer (upward of 20,000-plus pounds) that you have to tow more than 75 percent of the time. Until we get our hands on one of these new trucks to do a more thorough and controlled towing and payload test, this will have to do. Look for our full story on the 2015 Super Dutys to come.

From photo by Mark Williams