Posts Tagged ‘ford’

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Our weekly auction finds are typically centered on cool, budget-friendly Japanese cars. Today, we have a special treat, which also serves as proof that these auction finds are good for more than just economical Japanese cars. Today we’re looking at a 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – the quintessential American sports car.

2012 Ford Mustang

The Shelby Mustang was originally manufactured as a high-performance variant of the regular Ford Mustang, built by Shelby Automotive in the late ‘60s. In 2007, Ford revived the Shelby nameplate as their own manufacturer-sourced performance car.

Under the hood of this 2012 model year you’ll find a massive 5.4L aluminum engine, which allows Ford to save a full 102 lbs over the cast-iron version of the same engine. With that massive displacement, this Mustang offers a gut-wrenching 550 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque under the hood. Despite the ginormous engine, this was only the second year of Shelby Mustangs to escape the ominous Gas Guzzler Tax with 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

2012 Ford Mustang rear

To help handle all that power, Ford vastly improved the handling capabilities of the 2011 and 2012 MY Shelby Mustangs. This car rides about 10mm lower to the ground than its predecessor. It also uses Ford’s then-new Electric Power Assist Steering system (EPAS) to deliver more precise steering and better all-around road feel; basically, to help make the driver and vehicle feel as one.

The exterior of this 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 probably doesn’t need too much explanation; like we said at the beginning of this article, the Mustang is a modern-day classic. It is the original pony car, with a short butt and a huge front end. Of particular note in this model are the forged aluminum wheels – 19-inch wheels in the front and 20-inchers in the back. This model boasts a blue double racing stripe down the middle of the car, from the front all the way across the rear spoiler.

2012 Ford Mustang interior

Inside, the 2012 Ford Mustang seen here is in great condition with a B-grade interior. This has historically been the downfall of the Mustang… It’s a hoot to drive with insane starting and stopping power and excellent turning, and the car itself is unforgettable. But, the interior is somewhat rudimentary compared to other cars in the same class. That being said, you will have plenty of space and all the standard creature comforts you can expect of a car in this price range, including a color touchscreen infotainment system.

There are currently 9 different Ford Mustangs up for auction in Japan, ranging from a ’97 to a 2014 MY. For more information on this auction find, you can get a full translation of the specs below the auction sheet:

2012 Ford Mustang auction sheet

“Interior B, first registered February 2012, Shelby GT500 model, 6-speed manual, AC, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, airbag, leather, black leather seats, airbag, original 18 inch alloy wheels, LHD, not known if gray or official import, 2007 model, AM HDD navigation system with digital TV, seats worn, door mirrors scratched, scratches and dents, front windscreen stone scratches, marks as per map”


Toyota Decides a Ford Partnership for Hybrid Pickup Trucks is ‘Not Feasible’

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Break ups hurt. The end of this particular partnership is especially heartbreaking for all our suburban readers who are dying to drive a hybrid pickup. I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to keep on waiting.

Toyota and Ford hybrid development partnership over

As of this week, Toyota and Ford have officially canceled their Memorandum of Understanding for the development of a rear-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain for pickup trucks and SUVs. As you continue reading, we’ll outline the original intent and other specifics of this now-defunct agreement, including an entertaining amount of wild speculation.

2 Years, No Progress

Toyota and Ford originally announced their partnership on August 22, 2011. The agreement began with a Memorandum of Understanding with a plan for a more legally binding contract after a year-long “feasibility study”. The goal of the partnership was explicit; both brands wanted to expedite the development of a “new hybrid powertrain to bring the full hybrid experience of greater fuel efficiency to a new group of truck and SUV customers without compromising the capability they require in their vehicles.”

However, the formal agreement that was supposed to follow the MOU after one year was never signed. It seems that what started as a brief trial-run has since lost its appeal, at least on the hybrid powertrain front. The other part of the agreement, which is focused on the development of new telematics (Internet-based information and communication technology), is apparently still in place. As with the hybrid powertrain, a formal agreement has yet to be signed.

What does the cancellation of the Toyota-Ford MOU mean for you? Well, it means that a hybrid pickup truck isn’t coming as soon as we’d hoped. In their press release, Ford claims that they still plan to have a hybrid pickup by the end of 2020. Toyota’s statement was more vague, mostly just reminding us that they’re still the leading developer and seller of hybrid technology. Their position is more or less ‘we’ll get to it when we get to it’.

Why Did the Toyota-Ford Agreement Fail?

Obviously, this is where we get into the heavier speculation. I’m certainly not an insider with either company, so I can’t say for sure where things got stuck. However, there are two probable reasons for the cancellation.

First, it could be that Toyota and Ford now agree hybrid pickups aren’t the priority they once were. Just think about your typical Ford F-series commercial: How often is fuel economy a selling point? Rarely. A hybrid powertrain – the same thing the powers a Prius – just doesn’t jive with the “manly” image associated with driving a pickup. From a marketing standpoint, it seems like you’d need an extremely fuel-efficient hybrid to make a Priusified truck appealing to the typical pickup driver. An extra four or five miles per gallon won’t cut it; you’d need an extra 10 miles per gallon to make a hybrid pickup indisputably appealing. So, with this in mind, Toyota and Ford may have agreed that a hybrid pickup isn’t worth the vigorous pursuit.

The second possible reason could be because Toyota and Ford have frequently clashed over their hybrid systems. Toyota actually sued Ford for patent infringement when the American brand first released its Escape hybrid. It could very well be that the two automakers just couldn’t get over their differences, as petty as that sounds.

Whatever the reason, the end result of this failed agreement is that we now have no clue when to expect a hybrid pickup truck. I honestly believe that Toyota could get there first if they wanted to, especially since they’ve already shown a concept back in 2008 (which was actually shown in Detroit, funny enough). But, we haven’t seen anything about the A-BAT Concept since that original unveiling, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll see anything new anytime soon. We’ll be sure to let you know if anything changes, though.

Sources: Autoblog, The Truth About Cars


Toyota Corolla vs Ford Focus – Which One Really Sold the Most in 2012?

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 12th, 2013

Most of you have heard by now that the Ford Focus was the best-selling model in the world during 2012, taking the crown over the cumulatively best-selling car ever, the Toyota Corolla. Ford made their claim based on delivery data gathered by R.L. Pork & Co., which put the Ford Focus at 1,020,410 sales compared to the Toyota Corolla’s 872,774.

Toyota Corolla

But, Toyota isn’t about to be outdone so easily. They are still the biggest automaker in the world, and they’re out to prove to you. That’s why yesterday Toyota made a claim of their own stating that they sold 1,160,764 Corolla nameplates during 2012, more than 30% above the number put forth by Polk.

The question is, where did this major discrepancy come from, and who’s actually in the right?

Toyota’s U.S. Vice President, Mike Mechels, was just as mystified as we are, unfortunately. He expressed his annoyance through an email to Bloomberg saying, “Corolla registrations attributed to Polk come up short by nearly 300,000 units. This discrepancy is glaring and we have requested clarification.”

Sadly, it doesn’t sound like clarification will be coming anytime soon. Michelle Culver from the folks over at Polk reiterated that they wouldn’t be able to provide anymore data than what we’ve heard from Ford. Thus, if the third party is what makes the difference, the Ford Focus really is the best-selling nameplate in the world.

But… that doesn’t explain where Toyota’s extra 300K units came from.

During August of last year, a similar debate went down where Ford celebrated their 350 millionth vehicle with the bold claim that the Focus was outselling the Corolla for the first 6 months of ’12 based on figures from IHS Global Insight. Toyota and the rest of the automotive community quickly pointed out that the numbers IHS put together excluded several Corolla variants – specifically Corolla derivatives that go by a different name in a different market.

However, that doesn’t seem to be the problem this time around; the numbers from Toyota’s own counting department still don’t add up. The 1,160,764 units cited by Toyota actually does NOT include all the Corolla derivatives, which if included would put the count at 1,381,842. The number including Corolla derivatives is nearly double the figure cited by Polk & Corp., which seems well above the normal realm of error; something fishy’s going on here.

In the end, perhaps it doesn’t matter. Quotes by Bloomberg, Alan Baum from Baum & Associates had it right saying, “There is no simple answer here – it’s basically for bragging rights, so you define it however you like to suit your purposes. Suffice it to say these are both global models that are extremely popular and whose sales are likely to grow as the volumes in developing countries increase.” In other words, whichever car actually sold the most vehicles, they’re both going to continue selling increasingly well – a good thing for both Ford and Toyota.

But come on, we all know that Toyota took the crown. Nice try Ford.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Truth About Cars


Nissan, Ford and Daimler Forge Alliance for FCEV Development

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

There is no doubt that the future of fuel cell technology is a controversial subject. Skepticism for the commercial viability of FCEVs is due to a number of reasons, but it can usually be boiled down to one of two different perspectives – they’re either too expensive or too redundant.

For example, 4 years ago Wired News condescendingly claimed that “it will be 40 years or more before hydrogen has any meaningful impact on gasoline consumption or global warming”. In other words, according to Wired you shouldn’t look for a production-ready FCEV until 2050!

But it’s not just auto-expert-wannabes that abide these negative perspectives… Just a year and a half ago Dan Akerson, CEO of General Motors, stated that “the car is still too expensive and probably won’t be practical until the 2020-plus period”.

Despite this constant skepticism both within and without the auto-industry, creating a viable FCEV continues to be a major goal for many automakers, including all the major Japanese manufacturers. In fact, there is a good chance that January 2013 will go down in history as the turning point for hydrogen fuel cell technology in commercial automobiles.

Why?

Well, earlier this month we saw two global automotive superpowers – Toyota and BMW – join forces to jointly develop mid-size sports cars, lithium-air batteries, and most importantly, fuel-cell vehicle systems. Today, we see another even bigger alliance being struck. Daimler, Ford and Nissan forged an official pact with the explicit goal being to “speed up availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs.”

In other words, Daimler, Ford and Nissan are determined to create “the world’s first affordable, mass-market FCEVs as early as 2017”. That’s right – their goal isn’t to produce a vehicle in forty years, or even twenty, or ten… They’re aiming to have a competitively priced fuel-cell powered vehicle on the market in just four years.

Undoubtedly there will be naysayers pointing to the complete lack of current commercial availability despite 20+ years of hydrogen research and development. But, technology is always changing, and these three major manufacturers definitely have the budget, determination and expertise to achieve their goal. A press release states that “each company will invest equally towards the project… Together, Daimler, Ford and Nissan have more than 60 years of cumulative experience developing FCEVs. Their FCEVs have logged more than 10 million km in test drives around the world in customers’ hands and as part of demonstration projects in diverse conditions.”

Let Us Know Your Thoughts:

Ultimately, this new Daimler-Nissan-Ford alliance is a huge milestone for FCEV development. With Toyota and BMW also in the competition, GM and Volkswagen are the only automotive super powers left out in the dark. So, the time has come to pick your side:

Which auto-alliance do you think will create a production ready FCEV first – Toyota and BMW, or Daimler, Ford and Nissan?

Which one will be better? Why? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Autoblog Green


Mazda Better Off Without Ford? Maxda CX-5 v. Ford Escape

Posted by Stephen On Friday, October 26th, 2012

A recent Autoblog test has the 2013 Maxda CX-5 up against the 2013 Ford Escape in a battle which pits the two former partners in a head-to-head battle. In fact, before Mazda built the new CX-5, the only in-class small crossover vehicle they had was the Tribute – basically a rebranded version of the Escape itself.

Since these two car makers have parted ways, all that has now changed. In fact, Mazda has developed an entirely new platform for the CX-5 and has thrown in some real Kryponite in the form of it’s super-frugal Skyactiv engine tech. However, there is one similarity: they both debuted last November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

So what conclusions can we draw from this about Mazda’s long-term future in a post-Ford world?

Back-to-Back: CX5 and Escape

The Ford vehicle is emphasizing style with its European look and design. The Mazda CX-5, on the other hand, focuses on fuel efficiency and lightness. In fact, not only does the CX-5 stack up very well with the new Escape it also weighs in at 230 pounds less. Pair that with Skyactiv and the CX-5 has a potent fuel economy argument that the Escape will find it hard to match.

Then there is comfort. Testers found that the CX-5 has a much smoother ride. The gear changes are also slick, unlike the Escape, which oftentimes seems like it is “hunting” to find the optimal gear, and then downshifts when all you really needed was maybe a bit of extra torque thrust. And it’s the same story in the steering department with the CX-5 again having the upper hand.

CX-5: Sign That Mazda Will Survive?

There is no doubt, then, that the CX-5 gives you real substance. While the Ford has style, the Mazda has it beaten in every meaningful area. And the CX-5 is hardly dowdy anyway. You can see a healthy does of Mazda’s secret “zoom zoom” sauce in the lines.

So the CX-5 is a big win for Mazda at a time when the company has been losing money hand over fist in Japan. This direct comparison shows that it is better off without its American partner. What it really needs to do now is convert the increasingly promising efforts of its engineers into real money makers.

The long-term question will be this: Will Mazda end up following in the tire tracks of successful former Ford stablemate Jaguar, or will they end up on the scrap heap that was the unfortunate fate of former GM subsidiary Saab.

Only time will tell. But no one can accuse the product development teams of not putting in a great effort.


Japanese Car Makers Honda and Toyota Leading The Pack In Sales Gains Once Again

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Good news out of Detroit today: with top market research sites Edmunds.com and TrueCar.com forecasting the new-vehicles sales report for September 2012 (which is coming out today), it looks like September was a banner month for top Japanese-made cars. While the overall numbers are right around 1.1 million cars and light trucks (up 11% from September 2011), the Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda Motor Company are expected to be making up most of the huge gains.

Toyota in particular saw a very sharp spike in sales as the forecasts are showing a 33% increase in September sales. Honda isn’t too far behind in the gains department with marketing forecasters showing a 27% rise in sales for the month of September.

Japan’s Numbers Higher Than Detroit Automakers

This is welcome news for the Japanese automakers who were reeling from the earthquake in March of 2011 that put a halt to productions. Even after the manufacturing plants got up and running again, the disruptions that occurred still hurt sales.

But even with that explanation as to why last year’s numbers were so low, taking a look at some of the automakers out of Detroit shows that it’s not just the earthquake that shook up last year’s sales of Japanese cars; American-made cars are just not selling as well as Japanese-made autos. TrueCar.com is predicting the Ford Motor Company to report a 1.3% rise and General Motors to report a 2.5% jump. Doing slightly better than their competition, the Chrysler Group LLC are predicted to report an 8% increase. That’s a substantial lead that the Japanese automakers have in gains, one that can’t be explained by the earthquake, but instead explained by the overall trend of how consumers are looking at Japanese-made cars.

Japan Setting Bar High For Auto Sales

The tough auto market is still recovering from the auto crash of 2008 and 2009 but numbers like this are good news for pretty much everyone. But one thing is for sure: it is Japanese-made autos which are showing the most sales meaning that consumer confidence is at an all-time high. Exactly how high will be known later today when the actual report comes out.

Still, if the Paris Auto Show has shown us anything, it’s that the Japanese auto makers are ready to make a run for the title with their new lines of automobiles. Marketing innovative design and eco-friendly choices, Japan’s automakers just might be setting the new standard in monthly sales from here on. Toyota’s brash new Camry sedan design and Honda’s classy new Civic compact are making ripples across fans of the best-selling car models. And with Lexus’s new fuel economy luxury line and the redesigned Honda Accord hitting the markets, it looks like Japan is setting the bar pretty high once again…this time no one else may be able to reach it.


Japanese car auction finds: 1962 Ford Falcon Ranchero

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The reason this pick-up looks so much like a sedan in profile is that the Ford Falcon Ranchero pick-up was derived from the sedan model.

This one is a 1962 model, but confusingly the auction in Japan has it listed as a 1998 vehicle.

So, what’s the deal with that? It seems to make no sense, but then you need to remember that the car auctions in Japan will always list the year of first registration rather than the year the vehicle was made.

With classic cars like this, its pretty easy to spot right away. But you have to be careful with other non-Japanese brand cars in general, and gray import cars in particular. You may find the car was built one year, but not imported until the next for example.

Like this Ford Falcon Ranchero, you can often see the year of manufacture on the auction sheet, but another way would be to use a VIN decoder, with the 10th digit of a modern VIN number often telling you what the year of manufacture was.

Anyway, although I’m not so keen on the overall design of the Ranchero, I do like the period paint job and interior on this one.

Take a look and tell me what you think in the comments below:

Ford Falcon Ranchero 1962 front

Ford Falcon Ranchero 1962 interior

Ford Falcon Ranchero 1962 rear

Ford Falcon Ranchero Japanese car auction inspector's report

(c) Integrity Exports Co. Ltd. – Japan car auction buyer and exporter.


Ford Launches New Explorer SUV in Japan

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, May 28th, 2011

After a break of 5 years, Ford yesterday launched the new Explorer in Japan. It seems like an odd time to introduce a thirsty SUV to a market that is becoming increasingly conservative and focused on energy efficiency.Of all the models that Ford could have chosen, the Explorer seems to make little sense. Surely something smaller – like the new energy-efficient Fiesta – or something more European in style, such as the Focus, would work better.

The thing is that Ford is stuck: To make money in Japan, they need to be able to charge a premium, but their brand in general, and individual models in particular, just do not have that kind of clear brand image. If a Japanese consumer wants bland, then they have an overwhelming choice of cheaper, home-grown models available. On the other hand, sales for brands with particularly strong identities – such as VW, BMW and Mini – are doing relatively well.

New Ford Explorer SUV launched in Japan May 2011

Sales of import cars rose by 22% in April, bucking the trend of new car sales in Japan that month, which tanked as a result of the effects of the earthquake disaster in March. On the other hand, Ford only managed to sell 186 of these, and its sales only rose by 1.8%, so something is going wrong here. It really makes you wonder why Ford don’t just simply abandon their official dealer operation in Japan and hand the keys over to a high-profile private importer like Yanase.

Source: WSJ (Japanese-language)


Parts Shortages Ripple Around the World

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

This is an interesting graphic from the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shinbun nicely summarizing the way parts shortages and production halts caused by the earthquake in Japan are having knock-on effects around the world. As you can see from my translation below, these shortages are not just hitting the Japanese car makers. I guess this just emphasizes the fragility of a globalized economic system, in the same way that the interconnectedness of financial institution magnified the effects and rapidity of the economic crash of 2008.

Parts shortages around the world caused by the earthquake in Japan - Yomiuri Shinbun

  • United Kingdom – Sony Ericsson are reporting that there is a risk that electronic components for mobile phones could be in short supply.
  • Finland – Cell phone makers Nokia are also reporting risks of electronic component shortages.
  • Korea – Renault and Samsung are bot reducing production levels due to concerns about parts shortages.
  • United States – Ford has suspended sales of black and red vehicles due to a shortage of paint.
  • United States – General Motors has suspended some truck production due to parts shortages.
  • United States – Honda and Mazda are revising sales plans for models that are exported to the US from Japan.
  • China – Production facilities belonging to the Japanese car makers in China have concerns about parts deliveries from April onwards.
  • France – Peugeot Citreon Group report effects on their diesel engine production.
  • Germany / Spain – Opel has temporarily stopped production at factories in Spain.

Actually, our business buying cars from the Japanese auto auctions and exporting them around the world has not experienced many issues resulting from the earthquake and its aftermath. First of all, we are based in Osaka, which is a long way from the areas directly hit by the disaster and we are shipping out of Osaka and Nagoya.

There have been a few smaller auctions that have been canceled, and some larger ones rescheduled, but overall the range and numbers of vehicles available in the car auctions has not really been affected. We have continued to buy from customers around the world.

As for shipping, the ports were all shut for one day due to tsunami warnings for the entire coastline of Japan. However, after that they all reopened and no shipments for our customers have experienced any delays at all.

The only other concern of come customers has been the radiation issue, but as I explained elsewhere there isn’t really any risk for a number of reasons. I encourage you to read the detailed explanation I wrote if you have any questions about that.


F150 Truck / F1 Ferrari Confusion Ended – Phew!

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Now I thought I had been pretty scathing in my original blogpost about Ford suing Ferrari over the similarity of the name of their pickup truck to Ferrari’s 2011 F1 contender. But I was positively reserved compared with Ferrari’s official statement about the settling of the lawsuit with another name change for their race car. (I have Italicized – pun intended – my favorite passages for your delectation):

It might seem like a Kafkaesque scenario, but the affair relating to the name of the car with which Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will tackle this year’s Formula 1 World Championship saw its final and decisive episode played out these past few days with the concomitant withdrawal by Ford of the summons.

Therefore common sense has prevailed. In order to avoid the slightest risk of anyone confusing a Formula 1 car with a pick-up truck, for their part, the men from Maranello have decided that the car will lose the F that precedes the number 150 and which stands for Ferrari, as it has done on numerous occasions when it’s come to giving a car a code name, be it for the race track or the road. It appears that this could have caused so much confusion in the minds of the consumer across the Pond that, at the same time as losing the F, the name will be completely Italianised, replacing the English “th” with the equivalent Italian symbol.

Therefore the name will now read as the Ferrari 150° Italia, which should make it clear even to the thickest of people that the name of the car is a tribute to the anniversary of the unification of our country. Let’s hope the matter is now definitely closed and that we can concentrate on more serious matters, namely ensuring that our car that already seems to be pretty good out of the box, becomes a real winner.

I understand that corporations are expected to defend their trademarks or else the courts could take the view in the future that the corporation in question is not really interested in having sole use of this word for its own branding purposes. Thus, Google is constantly jumping on the generic use of “google” or “googling” to mean to use a search information to look for information.

However, this is one of those instances where flimsy legal reasoning has lead to corporate humiliation and resultant damage to Ford’s brand, and is a good example of why a CEO should lead a company and not a committee of lawyers.

Now, what’s this? News just in: Ferrari is counter-suing Ford for seeking to benefit from the goodwill of the prancing pony by having a galloping horse as the symbol of its Mustang model. Ferrari is also requiring Ford to cease using the name “pony car” in reference to this model.

Just kidding… or am I? Stranger things have happened!