Ford Tests Driverless Vehicles in Snowy Conditions

snowy roadSeveral automakers are currently testing driverless technology. However, Ford Motor Company is going above and beyond to test driverless vehicles in a variety of conditions.

One of the biggest questions about driverless cars is how the sensors and cameras will be able to function in snow or other bad weather. Autonomous vehicles use sensors, cameras, radar, and other technology to pinpoint their location, but what will happen when snow covers the cameras and lane markers?

Ford is working to solve that problem by testing a fleet of driverless Fusion Hybrids on a snow-covered, 32-acre, closed-course testing facility in Ann Arbor. Ford has been working with the University of Michigan to develop special 3D maps. These maps will allow the vehicle to precisely understand the road’s signs and markings no matter what the weather.

Fusion Hybrid

Fusion Hybrid

The 3D maps are created to contain useful information allowing the car to localize, even with snowy conditions. Ford is even hoping to enable the program to recognize when the weather is too rough and stop driving.

Jim McBride, Ford technical leader for autonomous vehicles, said in a statement, “Weather isn’t perfect, and that’s why we’re testing autonomous vehicles in wintry conditions — for the roughly 70% of US residents who live in snowy regions.”

We at Friendly Ford are thankful that we are part of a company that cares about the safety of its customers. Being in Chicago, we know about snow and are excited to see the testing of driverless vehicles in snowy conditions!

All-New Mulally Scholarship Honors Ex-CEO’s Engineering Legacy

Here’s how significant Alan Mulally was to the Ford Motor Company: he retired as CEO only a couple weeks ago, and the Blue Oval has already set up an all-new Mulally scholarship to honor his legacy. Obviously, Ford wants to ensure that Mulally remains just as embedded in Ford’s future story as he was in the past. To that end, they’ve established the Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship, which will award a total of $1 million to students looking to start careers in automotive engineering.

“Alan’s engineering background and data-driven decision-making paved the way for the extraordinary leadership he provided at Ford,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said. “We are honoring his legacy by providing scholarships to students who demonstrate the strong engineering ability that is required to develop into the next generation of leaders for our industry.”

Here’s how Ford will split out that $1 million: each year, they’ll award 10 different $10,000 scholarships to sophomore or junior level engineering students at some of the nation’s best universities. With the Mulally scholarship, Ford hopes to use the ex-CEO’s legacy to inspire the next generation of engineers who will fill his shoes. That generation of engineers will eventually be responsible for the excellent products found in the Ford lineup, which you can also find in our inventory here at Friendly Ford.

Ford’s March Sales

Ford Motor Company had the best March it has seen in eight years! Vehicle sales were up 3% year-over-year and there were 244,167 units sold last month. Ford attributes much of its success to the Fusion and its excellent lineup of F-Series trucks.

Ford's March Sales

Ford F-Series

Through the month, Ford sold a whopping 70,940 trucks which beat out their 70,000 benchmark and was an increase of 5% from last year. It is important to note that the 70,000 benchmark has only been beaten four times; therefore March was an extremely good month for the F-Series. Along with the ability to do some serious work, the F-Series of trucks pack comfort, technology, and reliability making them excellent family vehicles as well.

Ford's March Sales

2014 Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion was sold 32,963 times which was an increase of 9% year-over-year. This car was introduced in 2005, and has since really taken hold of the sedan market. The Fusion offers style, class, and efficiency making it an all-around great vehicle. Many people choose this sedan because of its exceptional interior space and luxurious feel. It’s safe to say that the Fusion was a great addition to the Ford family almost 10 years ago.

If you would like to see why these vehicles lead the way for Ford sales in March, stop by our Chicago area dealership. The team here at Friendly Ford will be happy to assist you in choosing the perfect vehicle to fit your needs!

Ford Sales Soar in September

Ford Motor Company delivered another great sales month in September. In fact, it was their best since 2006 after a 6% increase in the U.S. While many other auto companies had sales dip off in September, Ford stayed strong outpacing the industry. This is the 11th straight month Ford has enjoyed year-over-year sales increases.

Sales of the Ford Fusion last month were up 62% from a year ago totaling 19,972. Ford Fiesta sales were up 29% from last year with 5,043 units sold in September.  For the 26th consecutive month there was a sales increase for the F-Series. In September its sales were up 10 percent with 60,456 trucks sold.

“The combination of great styling, fuel economy and value delivered another solid monthly result for Ford in September,” said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “We’re particularly encouraged by the strength of the Fusion and Fiesta, especially in coastal markets. The F-Series also keeps delivering, with our fifth-straight month surpassing the 60,000-vehicle mark and continuing as America’s best-selling vehicle.”

Friendly Ford is happy to contribute to another strong sales month for Ford in September. To check out our full line-up of hot-selling models stop over to Friendly today!

Transit Connect Wagon Grabs International Van of the Year Award

The all-new Ford Transit Connect was recently named the “International Van of the Year 2014” this month in Moscow at the COMTRANS commercial vehicle exhibition. This is the first time that any auto brand has taken home this award in back to back years. This is now Ford’s 5th International Van of the Year Award adding to their wins in 2001, 2003, 2007, and another in 2013.  Ford won the award after a jury of 24 European specialist journalists scored the Transit Connect 130 out of 163 which beat out the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and the Renault Kangoo.

“The all-new Transit Connect has moved the game on for compact vans – and we are really proud to win this significant award again,” said Barb Samardzich, vice president of Product Development, Ford of Europe. “The new Transit Connect is just as tough and hard-working as all our commercial vehicle range, and comes with smart new looks and much lower fuel bills.”

The stylish, new Transit Connect offers class-leading fuel economy, durability, and load carrying ability. It comes with the highly fuel-efficient 1.0 litre EcoBoost petrol engine also offering class-leading petrol economy.

Friendly Ford is proud to see Ford collect another word with the new Transit Connect.

Ford Invests $700 Million in Canadian Plant

Ford Motor Company knows a good investment when they see it, which is why they invested $700 million Canadian into the Oakville, Ontario assembly plant. Currently Ford is Canada’s top-selling automaker and is using this investment to meet an increase in global demand for their product.

“This investment is helping us find much needed capacity for global products and securing jobs, and it is positioning Oakville as one of the most competitive and important facilities in the Ford system,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of The Americas, speaking from a ceremony at the plant today. “Global fuel-efficient products, built in a state-of-the-art facility, by a great workforce are a win for everyone today.”

Ford will not only bring 2,800 more jobs to the plant with this investment, but also begin producing several new global models, allowing Ford to better meet the demand both in North America and across the globe. It will also increase the amount of Canadian money spent on auto parts to C$4 billion annually.

Currently, Ford utilizes nine global platforms to build 85 percent of its vehicles. This allows Ford to leverage commonality among components, design, and building processes, which in turn allows them to seamlessly change the type of vehicle they are producing without much hassle.

The Oakville Assembly Plant is best known for its production of the Ford Edge, which you can check out at Friendly Ford today!

Ford Expands Availability of Inflatable Safety Belts

Ford is continuing to find new ways to raise the bar in terms of quality, fuel-efficiency, and certainly safety. The 2014 Ford Fusion recently became the only vehicle in its class to offer rear inflatable safety belts. These are essentially seat belts that turns into airbags. The inflatable safety belts were first introduced by Ford in the 2011 Explorer and ever since then they have been become such an appealing option. So much so that Ford is now expanding its availability so it will now be included on the Flex and Taurus as well as the Fusion and Explorer.

These belts provide additional protection for rear-seat passengers. Rear seat passengers are usually children or older adults that need more protection since their head, neck, and chest are more vulnerable and more likely to injure upon impact.

“The inflatable belt is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries,” said Srinivasan Sundararajan, safety technical leader with Ford’s research and advanced engineering group. “This is another unique family technology that builds on our safety leadership.”

When it comes to safety, nothing beats Ford. Come out to Friendly Ford today and check out our great selection of top-safety rated vehicles.

Ford Motor Company Climbs to Number 2 on Green Brands List

Ford Motor Company is known for a lot of things. Producing excellent vehicles, generous donations to charity, a rich American history…  just to name a few.  It’s also known for being one of the most environmentally friendly brands. Well it’s now recognized as being even more green than ever before.

Ford just climbed 13 spots in the new report ranking companies mainly based on what the public’s perception of the brand’s sustainable or green practices. Ford has now rose all the way up to number 2 on list of 2013 Best Global Green Brands report by the consulting firm Interbrand.

The popularity of all Ford’s Hybrid cars and products such as it’s popular EcoBoost engine was enough to bolster Ford all the way up to number 2.  “In 2012, Ford (#2) moved sustainability from the periphery to the center of its business strategy,” according the the report.

Friendly Ford offers vehicles such as green vehicles such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi, C-Max Hybrid, and C-Max Energi that helped the Ford Motor Company climb all the way up to number 2 on the list. Stop by Friendly Ford today to check out these green and very fuel efficient hybrid cars.

Ford Steps Up in Wake of Tragedy in Oklahoma

After an F-5 tornado with winds of 210 mph ripped through the town of Moore, OK many lives were lost and the damage and destruction as a result of this natural disaster has made recovery efforts overwhelming for the surviving citizens. Thankfully volunteers, neighbors, friends, family, organizations, and companies such as the Ford Motor Company are stepping up to the plate and helping out in any way they can.

Ford announced it is donating a total of $400,000, with $150,000 coming from Oklahoma Ford dealers and going to the United Way, and $250,000 coming from the Ford Motor Company and going to the American Red Cross. In addition to the money, Ford is also donating a new Ford Transit Connect to help with relief and emergency preparedness education.

Ford is also offering residents whose vehicles were damaged by the tornado $500 towards the purchase of their next Ford vehicle.

“We know how much this tragedy is impacting our customers, neighbors and friends,” said Craig Billingsley, chairman of the Oklahoma Ford Dealers. “Oklahoma Ford dealers encourage everyone to step up to help those impacted by these devastating tornadoes.”

At Friendly Ford, our thoughts and prayers are with those in the tornado-ravaged areas of Oklahoma as they try to bounce back from this horrific tragedy.

Ford: The Allergy Combatant

Spring is wonderful time of year. The weather starts to warm, the sun is out longer, the flowers begin to bloom, and it’s stepping stone to get to the summer. However, if you’re an allergy sufferer, things aren’t so fine and dandy during this season. Actually, over half of all Americans do suffer from allergies.That’s why Ford is doing its part to combat allergies in some of their newer models.

Newer models such as the 2013 Ford Fusion can help fight airborne allergens and monitor travel areas for other allergy irritants. Engineers went as far as to test over 100 different materials of Ford models in an effort to minimize the pieces that most commonly contribute to allergies. Some of the main materials that cause the most problems are nickel, hexavalent chromium, and natural latex.

Ford tested areas in some of the most highly-touched places in the vehicles such as the steering wheel, door handle, seats, etc. They also installed cabin air filters to help shield airborne allergens, such as fungus, dust, and pollen from entering the car.

“Allergies affect large numbers of people, so anything we can do to reduce potential allergens inside Ford vehicles we do through rigorous, controlled testing,” said Linda Schmalz, supervisor of Core Material Engineering for Ford.

Friendly Ford is ready for the spring season to get here and loves the direction Ford is headed with their new allergy tested vehicles.