2011 Ford Fiesta
2011 Ford Fiesta. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

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Article and photos by James Bergeron

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Ford’s near-term products

Dearborn, Michigan – There once were three automotive giants in Detroit, Michigan, but the mighty “Big Three” are now being referred to by less flattering names by many observers. Out of the three, Ford is the only one that didn’t take the government’s cash to bail them out of financially troubling times. The difference was that Ford addressed their financial struggles before the worldwide economic downturn and started to trim the fat as quickly as they could by selling off Aston Martin and Land Rover. Ford also realized that some of their truck and SUV products were not competitive in a market where gas prices were rising.

Ford has taken a few big leaps in the past year and a half and their short term plans out to 2013 are promising. At the moment, they have one of the freshest lineups in the automotive industry: the new Ford F150 and the Lincoln MKZ for 2009, and for 2010 the new Mustang, Taurus and Lincoln MKT, as well as new EcoBoost engines in the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS; and for 2011, the new Ford Fiesta small car.

By 2013, more than 90 per cent of Ford’s North American lineup will be available with turbocharged direct-injection EcoBoost technology. Currently, only V6 EcoBoost engines are offered, but there are plans for a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that produces more power and torque than today’s generation of 3.0-litre V6 engines while providing excellent fuel economy.

2010 Lincoln MKT
2010 Lincoln MKT. Click image to enlarge

Ford has also been working on some new transmissions to complement the EcoBoost engines. Ford’s four-speed automatic transmissions are being replaced with six-speed transmissions – the new six-speed automatic transmission (6F-55) shifts faster and smoother than their previous six-speed. The new transmission will be available in the 2010 Lincoln MKS Sedan and 2010 Lincoln MKT crossover.

On top of the new six-speed automatic transmission Ford is developing a six-speed dry clutch transmission: this is a dual-clutch transmission that is computer-controlled very much like Volkswagen’s DSG transmission. Most expect these transmissions to be used in performance vehicles, but Ford plans on using these as another method to decrease fuel consumption while increasing driver satisfaction.

Ford also prides itself on being a leader in new technologies. They started by partnering with Microsoft and incorporating the Sync hands-free communication and entertainment system into Ford vehicles. As well, new innovations in safety and technology include the My Key system, Park Assist and Ford’s blind spot detection system.

2010 Ford Transit Connect
2010 Ford Transit Connect. Click image to enlarge

The Ford My Key system allows the owner of a vehicle to program a second key to have certain limitations, like turning off the radio until the seatbelt is buckled. Other available options include setting a speed limit of 80 mph (128 km/h) and blocking the ability to disable the traction control system. The intent of the system is to provide parents with a level of control not previously possible when handing the keys over to their children.

Many have heard of Lexus’ parking system that allows the vehicle to park itself – Ford has their own version of the system available – Park Assist – on the 2010 Ford Escape / Hybrid, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKS sedan and Lincoln MKT crossover. I had a chance to test the system back-to-back with Lexus’ system and found that Ford has done a masterful job of improving on the system by making it more user friendly and convenient to use.

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