Thursday, December 5, 2013

2014 Ford F-150 Readied for Fueling with Compressed Natural Gas

Though buyers of the Ford F-150 have enjoyed big gains in gas mileage in recent years, commercial-fleet owners must still contend with fluctuating gas prices that can have a negative impact on their bottom line. For businesses that would like to cut gas costs out of the equation altogether, certain models of the 2014 Ford F-150 are now rolling off the assembly line with the ability to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Available with a factory-installed bi-fuel CNG/LPG engine package costing $315, the 2014 Ford F-150 with the 3.7-liter V6 is the only half-ton pickup truck offered with a gaseous-fuel-ready engine directly from the plant. Commercial buyers must then choose a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to install the fuel system for somewhere in the range of $6,000 to $9,500; however, the significantly lower costs of CNG would help them achieve payback in a short period. At the time of this writing, the least expensive gallon of gas in Stoneham, Mass., is $3.37, while the gallon equivalent of CNG is priced at $2.49. Not only is CNG a cheaper alternative to oil, but its prices also fluctuate less and its emissions are cleaner.
“Fleet owners who opt for the CNG-capable Ford F-150 will not only notice a big drop in their operating costs but they will also be able to confidently plan ahead knowing their fuel expenditures aren’t going to skyrocket every time there’s a conflict in the Middle East,” said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, aMassachusetts Ford dealer. “As an added bonus, the CNG/LPG engine package features hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings so drivers can fill up on both gas and CNG in separate fuel tanks to drive a range of more than 750 miles without a pit stop.”
While the CNG-ready F-150 caters to commercial customers, retail buyers of the F-150 equipped with the gas-powered 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine aren’t without their share of fuel savings. Ford announced in November that it had sold 400,000 units of the F-150 EcoBoost in the United States since the model’s launch in February 2011, and those trucks have collectively saved buyers an estimated 45 million gallons of gas when compared to the same amount of units of the 2010 Ford F-150 with a 5.4-liter V8 engine.

Friday, November 15, 2013

2014 Ford Fiesta Rides New 1.0-Liter EcoBoost to 45-MPG Highway Rating

While hybrid and diesel vehicles continue to gain acceptance in the U.S. market, some automakers are showing there are still plenty of miles per gallon to be gained in the development of traditional gas-powered engines. Look no further than Ford's award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder powerplant, which will make its U.S. debut in the 2014 Ford Fiesta later this year, allowing the subcompact to return up to 45 mpg on the highway.

By earning that impressive highway rating, the 2014 Fiesta with SE Manual EcoBoost Package will become the most efficient non-hybrid, gas-powered car in the United States, besting the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris by 12 mpg and 8 mpg, respectively. The Fiesta model will also produce 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque with its new EcoBoost, making it the only subcompact to generate at least 120 horsepower while achieving 45 mpg on the highway. Additionally, drivers can take advantage of an overboost function to surpass 145 pound-feet of torque for up to 15 seconds.

"The Fiesta's new 1.0-liter EcoBoost is innovative in both its efficiency and its responsiveness relative to its small displacement," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealer. "The new Fiesta model beats the Volkswagen Golf TDI diesel and Honda Insight hybrid in highway fuel economy, yet it boasts more horsepower per liter than a Lamborghini Aventador. That means that buyers don't need to sacrifice driving fun when they downsize to a subcompact for better gas mileage."

Beyond its new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, the Fiesta with SE Manual EcoBoost Package features a number of aerodynamic enhancements to return its leading fuel efficiency, including lower grille blockers, side air deflectors, a rear spoiler, underbody shields and low-rolling-resistance tires. The Fiesta model is also rated at 32 mpg in the city and 37 mpg in combined city and highway driving.

While the 2014 Fiesta's increased fuel economy will help it solidify its popularity among younger buyers, the car continues to offer intuitive technology options that cater to millennials' affinity for staying connected on the road. A new MyFord Touch infotainment system includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen and enhanced voice commands for controlling navigation, entertainment and communication functions, while drivers can use SYNC AppLink to access audio-streaming apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio and Stitcher Smart Radio.

"Younger buyers tend to view their vehicle as an extension of their mobile devices, and the Ford Fiesta allows them to safely stay connected with that technology while they're driving," added Melkonian. "They also expect more out of automakers when it comes to fuel efficiency, which makes the 1.0-liter EcoBoost a perfect fit for the Fiesta."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Amid High Demand, Ford Produces 2 Millionth EcoBoost Powerplant

When the EcoBoost engine was first made available in the Ford F-150 in 2011, its biggest challenge was convincing truck buyers that a more efficient V6 engine could be just as capable as a V8. Today, 42 percent of F-150 buyers opt for an EcoBoost, and the engine technology has spread across Ford's lineup. This month, the company built its 2 millionth EcoBoost unit globally, with output now averaging more than 100,000 engines each month, up from 65,000 per month last year.

Ford predicts that it will produce 1.2 million EcoBoost engines this year, which would be a more than 60 percent increase compared to 2012. A look at the EPA's fuel-economy website reveals the superior value of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine in a 2013 Ford F-150 with two-wheel drive. While that model is estimated to cost owners $3,000 annually based on current gas prices, a two-wheel-drive 2009 Ford F-150 with a 5.4-liter V8 will set drivers back $3,400. After 10 years of ownership, drivers of the EcoBoost-equipped F-150 would save $4,000 in comparison, and they would also benefit from an extra 55 horsepower and 55 pound-feet of torque, having 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque at their disposal.

"When you evaluate the performance and fuel-economy figures, the EcoBoost is really a no-brainer for F-150 buyers who need a truck that can handle the tough jobs but also avoid the gas station as much as possible during the daily commute," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealer. "As successful as the EcoBoost's emergence in the pickup-truck market has been, it is pulling off equally impressive feats with its four-cylinder variants in several car segments."

In addition to the 3.5-liter V6, Ford's current EcoBoost lineup in the United States includes 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter units. Both of those four-cylinder powerplants are available in the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion midsize sedan, granting drivers as much as 240 horsepower or returning up to 37 mpg on the highway. Later this year, the 2014 Fusion will receive an all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, while the award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine will make its U.S. debut in the redesigned 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompact. Producing 123 horsepower per liter, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost packs in more power for its size than the engine of a Lamborghini Aventador, which generates 108 horsepower per liter.

To keep up with rising demand for its 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, Ford will begin manufacturing the powerplant at its Cleveland engine facility in 2014. That $200 million investment will shift production of the engine for the North American market away from its current location in Valencia, Spain, and create 450 new jobs for U.S. workers.

"In its few years on the market, EcoBoost technology has managed to make the rugged F-150 a surprisingly efficient vehicle while turning the small Fiesta into a highly engaging ride," added Melkonian. "Those are two very different examples, but they showcase the widespread appeal of EcoBoost engines and help explain why the technology continues to attract so many new buyers."

Friday, August 23, 2013

2013 Ford Focus Receives Top Safety Pick+ Status from IIHS

Following up its five-star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this year, the 2013 Ford Focus has again proven its crash-protection prowess, earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Though the small-car class yielded mixed results as a whole in the latest round of testing, the Focus was one of six models to receive the IIHS' highest rating.

To be labeled with the Top Safety Pick+ designation, a vehicle must achieve the top rating of "good" in four out of five IIHS crash tests, as well as score no lower than "acceptable" in the fifth test. The stringent evaluations include moderate- and small-overlap frontal, side-impact, rollover and rear crash tests. Boosted by the extensive use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel in its body structure, the 2013 Ford Focus received "good" ratings in four tests and an "acceptable" in the new small-overlap frontal test.

"Unlike some of its competitors, the Ford Focus' smaller size doesn't result in any sacrifice in safety, as its body structure is designed to absorb more energy during an impact," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealer. "Beyond its rigid frame, the Ford Focus uses sensors to determine the weight and seat-belt status of front passengers, allowing the car to tailor the deployment force of airbags for maximum protection."

The Ford Focus also uses smart technologies to promote safe driving, making an accident less likely in the first place. Parents of teen drivers can program Ford's MyKey feature to limit the volume of the audio system or even completely mute sounds when seatbelts aren't fastened. Additionally, they can set the top speed of the vehicle to 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph.

While the Ford Focus is designed to fully protect its passengers, it is far from a snoozer on the road, especially for buyers who opt for the performance-focused ST model. Featuring a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine churning out 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, the 2014 Ford Focus ST hatchback harnesses all that output with a sport suspension and high-performance front and rear disc brakes. Outside, the model's more aggressive demeanor is communicated by a bold one-piece trapezoidal grille with hexagonal mesh, an integrated roof spoiler and wraparound taillamps.

"The Focus ST is a great choice for buyers who want a hot hatch that is still a sensible purchase," added Melkonian. "It is very safe, returns a class-leading manual fuel economy of 32 mpg on the highway, and features intuitive technology like the optional SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment system."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ford Jumps 13 Spots to No. 2 on Interbrand's Best Global Green Brands

While most automakers are effectively meeting environmental goals and regulations, brand consultancy Interbrand asserts that the ones going beyond compliance to produce innovative products are being perceived as the greenest brands. Ford is a prime example in Interbrand's 2013 Best Global Green Brands report, as the company's fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine technology helped it rise 13 spots from last year to become the No. 2 brand in the world.

The Interbrand Best Global Green Brands report examines the gap between a company’s environmental practices and consumers’ perceptions of those initiatives, rating each marque on how well its sustainability efforts are resonating with the public. The high visibility for Ford's EcoBoost technology has come from the automaker's heavy promotion of the best-selling Ford F-150 pickup truck, which is available with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that produces 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque while still returning up to 22 mpg on the highway.

"The debut of EcoBoost technology in the F-150 a few years ago was a perfect transition point toward a greener outlook at Ford, because the efficiency gains came without sacrificing any of the performance that the brand's fans had come to expect," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealer. "Since then, Ford has introduced EcoBoost engines for most of its lineup, so eco-conscious buyers can feel good about their purchase without feeling bored while driving."

Though Interbrand's new report focuses on consumer perception, Ford recently released a wealth of hard evidence showing how it has reduced its environmental impact. From 2000 to 2012, the automaker lowered its CO2 emissions at global facilities by 37 percent per vehicle, and it has planned a 30 percent reduction from 2010 to 2025. Meanwhile, Ford's tailpipe emissions have decreased by 16 percent per vehicle since 2007, thanks to the introduction of new, efficient vehicles like the Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids.

Ford's gas-electric lineup, which also includes the Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid, has already broken the brand's full-year hybrid sales record in just five months of reported sales in 2013. The automaker has sold about 37,000 hybrid models through May, topping the previous record of 35,496 units sold throughout all of 2010.

"Some automakers have done a great job of making green vehicles, but not such a great job of making green vehicles that can actually sell," added Melkonian. "Ford is excelling at both tasks, which means that its hybrid technology can make that much more of an impact on the environment."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Vehicles Lead Ford to Record Hybrid Sales in First Quarter

Propelled by four new gas-electric models, Ford saw record hybrid sales in the first quarter this year, but perhaps more importantly, the automaker boosted its share of the electrified-vehicle market by 4 percent year-over-year during the same time. The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid, along with the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids, helped drive more than 21,000 hybrid sales for the company in the first three months of 2013, resulting in a 324 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Ford claims that three out of every four of its buyers in key hybrid markets are converting from competitors, with Toyota coming in as the top conquest brand for the Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX hybrids. Meanwhile, initial sales data suggests that conquest rates are holding steadily above 60 percent for the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi. also reports that the Fusion Hybrid has taken the lead over the Toyota Camry Hybrid in purchase consideration among consumers.

"Ford may have taken longer than Toyota to enter the hybrid market, but during that time it developed an approach that ensured style, performance and versatility would not be sacrificed in the name of fuel efficiency," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Ford dealer serving Boston. "Now Ford customers can get their fuel savings in a boldly styled midsize sedan with one of the Fusion hybrids, or they can opt for plenty of flexible seating and cargo space with one of the C-MAX hybrids."

Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an advanced electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, the Ford Fusion Hybrid produces a lively system output of 188 horsepower, yet it returns up to 47 mpg during city, highway and combined driving. Ford's C-MAX Hybrid mirrors those EPA ratings while offering up to 52.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the first-row seats. With their charging capabilities, the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi can each net up to 108 MPGe in the city. 

Even with its hybrid models gaining momentum, Ford continues to focus on advancing the fuel economy of its gas-only vehicles. Building on the success of its EcoBoost engine lineup, the automaker will be introducing a new 1.5-liter unit in the Fusion later this year. Like Ford's current 1.6-liter EcoBoost powerplant, the 1.5-liter EcoBoost will use a combination of turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing, but it is expected to be even more fuel efficient while providing similar performance.

"Ford has taken a multidimensional approach to improving fuel economy in recent years, whether it is through hybrid drivetrains, lighter frames or just by getting more out of traditional gas engines," added Melkonian. "Regardless of customers' drivetrain preferences, they'll find technology that is just as advanced on the inside of their car, like the intuitive SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment system."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

U.S. News Lauds Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid for Their Family Friendliness

On the outside, the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion is one of the most aggressively styled midsize sedans on the market, but U.S. News & World Report has found the vehicle to also be the most family-friendly option on the inside. In its 2013 Best Cars for Families awards, the publication named the Fusion its top choice in the Midsize Cars segment, while the Fusion Hybrid took top honors in the Hybrid Cars category.

Recognizing the vehicles in each segment that offer the best combination of space, quality and family-friendly features, the U.S. News 2013 Best Cars for Families awards were determined by composite scores that reflect how models rated in each of those three categories. The Fusion and Fusion Hybrid were honored in part for their spacious rear passenger space for kids, while the hybrid model was praised further for the extra money it can save parents, thanks to its ratings of 47 mpg in the city, on the highway and in combined driving.

"A family car needs to be safe, spacious and cost-effective, and the new Fusion models certainly deliver on those things, but they are also stylish and fun to drive," said John Melkonian, general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Greater Boston Ford dealer. "Whether it's one of the Fusion's two EcoBoost engines, which are responsive yet fuel efficient, or its bold new hexagonal grille, the car is designed to make parents feel like they would have made the same purchase even if they didn't have kids."

While style and performance are added bonuses, safety is still top of mind for parents, and the 2013 Ford Fusion has received a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the New Car Assessment Program from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Fusion's top crash-test scores were achieved with the help of its new Personal Safety System, which uses advanced safety-belt technologies and other sensors to customize the deployment of front airbags during frontal impacts.

With its effective safety features and sleek design providing a boost, the new Fusion continues to prove popular in the showroom, as the sedan saw its best-ever February sales last month. Totaling 27,875 units, U.S. sales of the Fusion rose by 28 percent over its previous record set in February 2012.

"The Fusion appeals to a wide variety of buyers because their options range from a 240-horsepower engine to a plug-in hybrid drivetrain in the Fusion Energi that returns 108 MPGe in the city," added Melkonian. "Not to mention, shoppers can choose from a number of trims that further meet their needs, whether it's with the impressive connectivity of the SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment system or with the luxury of leather-trimmed seats and ambient lighting."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Safe Sustainability: Ford Focus Electric Receives Five-Star Rating from NHTSA

While developing the new Ford Focus Electric, the car's engineers wanted to make sure that its safety technology was just as advanced as its sustainable drivetrain. It appears they have achieved that goal, as the all-electric vehicle recently received a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the New Car Assessment Program from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To earn an overall five-star rating from the NHTSA, vehicles must excel in the organization's frontal, side-impact and rollover crash tests. The 2013 Ford Focus Electric delivered superior crash protection in the stringent evaluations with the help of advanced front and side airbags that deploy according to the size and position of individual occupants. Meanwhile, the model's standard AdvanceTrac electronic stability control helps prevent accidents in the first place by using real-time data on road conditions and driver response to adjust engine power and apply the anti-lock brake system when needed. 

"The Focus Electric saves its owners from throwing a lot of money toward gas, but Ford recognizes that you can't put a price on safety, so it made crash protection just as much of a priority as efficiency when designing the model," said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Greater Boston Ford dealer. "Focus Electric drivers get the peace of mind of helping to create a healthier environment, but they can also take comfort in knowing that they are watching out for the well-being of the precious cargo that they're taking along for the ride."

Rated at a best-in-class 110 MPGe in the city, the Ford Focus Electric is powered by a 107-kW electric motor and a liquid-cooled, high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack. A full charge takes just three to four hours with the recommended Leviton 240-volt home charging station, and drivers can go up to 76 miles between charges, which is the longest range in the segment.

Ford announced this month that its number of EV Certified dealerships will be expanding to more than 900 this spring, up from 200 this past November. That new amount represents about a third of all Ford dealers in the United States, and the automaker will have an EV Certified dealer in all 50 states within the same timeframe.

"As a dealership that earned EV certification early on in the process, we can definitively say that Ford has gone to great lengths to ensure there is a highly supportive infrastructure in place for Focus Electric owners," added Melkonian. "From the faster home charging times to the MyFord Mobile smartphone app that lets you monitor and schedule time at public charging stations, the Focus Electric is going to play a big role in generating a broader acceptance of electric vehicles in the market."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Ford Fusion Rakes In Car of the Year Awards

A year ago, the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion was named Best in Show by Autoweek magazine following its debut at the Detroit Auto Show, raising expectations for the dealership arrival of the midsize sedan. Fast-forward to the present day, and the new Fusion is now on sale and continuing to attract critical acclaim. Both Autobytel and AOL Autos recently named the aggressively styled model their Car of the Year.

The Autobytel 2013 Car of the Year award was decided by the votes of the vehicle-research site's editorial team, and the Fusion ended up the near-unanimous choice. Editors called the new Ford model "the right amount of car for the right price at the right time," adding that it may be "the best of a really good bunch" of midsize sedans. AOL Autos used a different voting system for its 2012 Car of the Year Award, as each editor ranked their top three cars. Three points were awarded for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote, with the Fusion receiving the highest overall score.

"Both Autobytel and AOL Autos agree that the Fusion's redesign has elevated the car right to the top of the midsize segment with its excellent mix of performance, value and quality," said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Greater Boston Ford dealer. "The new Fusion is thoroughly modern, whether you're looking at its crisp design lines, its innovative in-car technology or its fuel efficiency that comes without diluting responsiveness."

This month, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid will go on sale as the most fuel-efficient sedan on the U.S. market, returning up to 108 MPGe in the city. That impressive gas mileage, along with the car's intuitive infotainment and driver-assist technologies, recently earned the Fusion Energi the title of 2013 Connected Car of the Year by Connected World magazine in its Green category.

The Ford Fusion Energi comes standard with SYNC with MyFord Touch, which connects with drivers' smartphones to initiate hands-free phone calls and media playback using voice commands. Meanwhile, compatibility with the MyFord Mobile app allows Fusion Energi owners to remotely check the state of the car's charge and retrieve range estimates. Buyers can also opt for a variety of active safety technologies, including a Driver Alert System, a Lane-Keeping System and a Blind Spot Information System.

"The Fusion Energi appeals equally to the head and the heart because it is packed with cost-saving and life-saving technologies, yet it looks and feels like a sportier midsize sedan," added Melkonian. "While other plug-in hybrids are marked by their subdued styles, the Fusion Energi is just as striking as it is sustainable."