Report: Ford targeting up to 700-pound weight loss across lineup

Filed under: SUV, Truck, Ford

2011 Ford Super Duty

With stricter 2012-2016 fuel economy standards quickly creeping up on automakers, research and development departments industry-wide are looking for innovative technologies to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. But while hybrids and electric vehicles provide the largest wow factor, most powertrains in the near term will be of the internal combustion variety, so Ford is looking to shed pounds as well.

TheDetroitBureau.com reports that Ford is looking to trim between 250 and 700 pounds from each of its vehicles by 2017 or 2018. That’s an impressive total given the fact that added safety measures and more technology have contributed to the bloated scale-breakers we have today, and an aluminum hood or high strength steel can only make up some of that distance. Engineering Chief Derrick Kuzak tells TDB that “weight reduction starts with new platforms.” That means aluminum and carbon fiber chassis components and lighter frames.

With the cost of aluminum far exceeding that of steel, using the lightweight material could be a costly endeavor. Kuzak believes the answer could be carbon fiber, but to use the strong, light material, Ford must “improve manufacturability and reduce costs.”

Cutting several hundred pounds from a vehicle will no-doubt cut fuel consumption and substantially improve performance, and the efficiency gains can be two-fold. Kuzak points out that lighter vehicles can be fitted with smaller, more efficient engines, giving the vehicles a second bump in fuel economy. Lighter vehicles could also lead to improved EVs as well, as less battery power would be needed to propel a vehicle, which leads to more miles per charge.

We’re all for lighter and more efficient vehicles, and we’re wondering whether it’s too early to put in an order for a 2,600-pound Mustang GT. Okay, so the largest weight loss is likely for the trucks and SUVs, but we can dream, right?

[Source: TheDetroitBureau.com]

Report: Ford targeting up to 700-pound weight loss across lineup originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Apr 2011 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dodge recalls 2008-2011 Ram 4500, 5500 pickups over potential steering loss

Filed under: Truck, Recalls, Safety, Work, Chrysler, Dodge

Dodge Ram 4500

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chrysler is recalling model year 2008-2011 Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 Heavy Duty trucks. The culprit is apparently the left ball stud on the tie rod that could weaken and potentially fracture, which could result in a loss of steering control.

As NHTSA plainly states, “loss of steering control of the vehicle could increase the risk of a crash.” And that’s a bad thing. Directions on contacting Chrysler or NHTSA can be found after the break, and, of course, the automaker will be fixing affected models free of charge.

[Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]

Continue reading Dodge recalls 2008-2011 Ram 4500, 5500 pickups over potential steering loss

Dodge recalls 2008-2011 Ram 4500, 5500 pickups over potential steering loss originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Fed reduces auto bailout loss forecast to $17B

Filed under: Government/Legal, Chrysler, GM, Earnings/Financials

stock listing monitors

The federal government spent roughly $86 billion in taxpayer money to bail out the auto industry. That’s a lot of Monopoly money, folks, and when the industry we know and love was at its weakest point, early projections suggested that that the U.S. government and American taxpayers would never see $30 billion of that money. But as the economy slowly crawls back to life and cars and trucks are beginning to move with greater regularity, those forecasts are being adjusted downward.

A few months ago the Treasury Department proclaimed that the industry could, if everything fell just so, lose only $8 billion by the time the dust settles. We’re now in October, and according to The Detroit News, the DoT is settling on a loss that looks a lot like $17 billion. That figure was revised downward from $24.3 billion due to increased optimism that the bailout of Ally Bank, the Cerberus-owned finance arm for both General Motors and Chrysler, wasn’t going to be as big of a cash drain as was originally expected.

The revised auto industry loss comes out of a 200-page report that details the overall plight of the $700 billion ($475 billion has been spent to date) Troubled Asset Relief Program. The report states that the U.S. government stands to lose a grand total of $29 billion of the $475 billion spent. That $29 billion number is definitely tentative, though, because a lot of the numbers are heavily dependent on the price of stocks at the time the federal government decides to sell.

For example, at the current price of AIG shares, the government would actually book a profit of $21.9 billion. The bank bailouts are said to have produced another $16 billion in profits, while the mortgage securities buys are currently underwater to the tune of $46 billion. The $29 billion figure could go further up or down based upon the price of the initial public offerings at General Motors and Chrysler. The government put $43 billion into The General in exchange for 60.8 percent of the company’s stock, and another $12 billion for a 10 percent stake in Chrysler. GM’s IPO is expected to open next month, though the feds aren’t expected to sell off all of its shares in the first offering. Industry watchers suggest that Chrysler’s IPO could happen in 2011.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Mario Tama/Getty]

Report: Fed reduces auto bailout loss forecast to $17B originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 06 Oct 2010 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Spyker posts loss, expects to lose more

Filed under: Saab, Earnings/Financials, Spyker

Saab factory sign

An accounting rule, among other things, is ostensibly to blame for Spyker posting a loss and having to declare negative shareholder equity with more liabilities than assets. According to Automotive News, the new owner of Saab had counted General Motor’s $326 million in redeemable preference shares in the company as equity, not a liability. So with the company having just got its factory going in October and only having sold 10,500 cars in the first six months of this year, the hard numbers are a loss of €139.1 million ($177.2M U.S.) on €243.1 million in sales ($309.8M U.S.).

The good news is that sales for the same period last year, before Saab’s plunge into full out cardiac arrest, were €4.1 million ($5.2M USD). The Swedish maker also has €280 million in cash (around $357M) and another €266 million ($339M) untapped from its European Investment Bank loan. Spyker has been saying for a while that profitability would come in 2012 and that it has enough cash and credit to get it there without needing to raise more money.

Its sales projections of 45,000 to 50,000 cars this year, however, might be on some downward pressure. Company CEO Jan Ake Jonsson said that they’re still looking to achieve that low number. Next year’s forecast and the company’s break-even point is understood to remain at 80,000 cars, with 120,000 as the long-term annual sales target.

[Source: Automotive News – sub req’d | Image: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty]

Report: Spyker posts loss, expects to lose more originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Aug 2010 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tesla reports second-quarter loss of $38.5 million

Filed under: Earnings/Financials, Tesla

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S – Click above for high-res image gallery

Tesla has reported its first earnings statement as a public company and, not surprisingly, the numbers don’t exactly paint a rosy portrait. The company announced that while it managed to bring in revenue around $28.4 million, it lost $38.5 million. That loss marks the second such dip in earnings for the company this year, though analysts are saying that the drop in cash flow is to be expected. The company just handed over $42 million to purchase a manufacturing facility for the Model S, and odds are the company will continue to funnel money into the structure as we get closer to the EV sedan’s production date.

Speaking of the Model S, it’s likely that a fair portion of the company’s funds are being shoveled into development of this second Tesla model. With those two hefty projects on the company’s plate, odds are we won’t see the electric vehicle manufacturer turn a profit for some time – possibly until after the end of this year. The news doesn’t seem to have had too much of a negative impact on the company’s stock price, though. As of this writing, TSLA stock was still at $20.18 – down around a dollar from opening.

Gallery: Tesla Model S in motion

tesla-model-s-large-4tesla-model-s-large-2tesla-model-s-large-1tesla-model-s-large-3tesla-model-s-large-5

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

Tesla reports second-quarter loss of $38.5 million originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Aug 2010 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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