Ford Trying to Become New Mileage Champ

by Benjamin Jones on November 12, 2008

In the wake of automakers like Ford preparing for the worst, the bygone days of fighting back against CAFE regulations are long over. These days it seems like the new motto is “35 MPG or bust (and hopefully not bust before 35 MPG)!” However, according to Wardsauto, Ford is looking to do more than just hit 35 MPG, it’s looking even higher.

And why not? Ford’s stock is the lowest it’s been in decades and the Japanese automakers, with their thrifty, fuel efficient cars are weathering the current economic storm a lot better than their U.S.-based counterparts. Ford needs something to set them apart, and more importantly, something to give the company that so many people want to buy from a fresh, new image.

According to Ford, that something is fuel economy:

“Our objective is to go as far as possible with the technology available that we can offer consumers at an affordable price so we can have a corporate fuel economy number that exceeds regulations.”

To that effect Ford has already begun phasing in smaller, 4 cylinder engines, developing new hybrid systems, and improving fuel economy feedback. Evidently the new engines are a hit:

“The (take rate) for I-4s is now 50%. Every I-4 we can produce, there’s a customer wanting to take it,” she says. I think consumers aren’t as concerned with the number of cylinders or the numerical displacement. I think they’re concerned with performance, how it feels to drive and fuel economy.”

It may be more corporate posturing from one of the companies that has promised change for years, but it seems to be coming during a time of aggressive change and a reshuffling of priorities, so I am apt to believe it. More than that, they don’t seem to be promising anything extraordinary; they’re going to meet and beat CAFE regulations over the next 12 years. If they were claiming to reinvent the wheel and have a 100% hydrogen line up, well…that just wouldn’t fly.

Do you think Ford can pull off a turn around? Will they even make it past the current global economic meltdown?

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{ 1 comment }

1 wtfm8 November 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm

In Europe Ford has been selling highly efficient vehicles for decades. The Euro Focus, Fiesta, and Ka models have come with fuel-sipping, smaller displacement gas motors and downright miserly diesels since I can remember; Ford’s US economy cars, conversely, get 20 year old iron block I-4s or leftovers from Mazda, meaning EPA HWY MPG tops out at 35 for their entire US fleet. I’m hoping to see the new USDM Fiesta (coming next year) with a diesel, and maybe even in super-aero “econetic” trim at my local Ford dealership, but I won’t hold my breath–we’re more likely to get 2.5L of underengineered overkill instead of anything noteworthy.

Please prove me wrong, Ford… please!

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