Thursday, 11 December 2014

Ford puts new effort into performance

Ford will deliver over 12 new performance vehicles for global enthusiasts through to 2020, as the company announces  its new global Ford performance team.

The vehicles include an all-new Focus RS that will be available to customers in major markets around the world for the first time.

It is part of Ford’s plan to deliver more quickly new performance vehicles, parts and accessories for customers world-wide.

“Ford remains committed to innovation through performance,” claimed Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Our new global Ford Performance team ties together racing, performance vehicles and parts. It will allow us to more quickly introduce products and accessories that meet the needs of customers around the world on-road and on the track.”

Focus RS, which builds on a pedigree of driving excellence dating to the first Ford RS in 1968, was last introduced in 2009.

Focus RS will join Ford’s existing performance line-up, including Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Shelby GT350 Mustang and F-150 Raptor.

In addition to pleasing enthusiasts, Ford claims these vehicles will help it deliver the company’s One Ford plan for profitable growth, product excellence and innovation in every part of its business.

Performance vehicle sales are growing around the world – with sales up 70 per cent in the US and 14 per cent in Europe since 2009.

In the US, more than 65 per cent of ST customers come from outside the Ford brand, and more than 50 per cent of Ford performance vehicle owners’ next vehicle purchase is a Ford. Millennials are purchasing ST vehicles at a rate twice that of other Ford-branded vehicles.

Powering performance vehicles, such as Fiesta ST and Focus ST, is the EcoBoost engine range. Since the introduction of the EcoBoost engine in 2009, Ford has produced more than 2 million EcoBoost engines globally.

“EcoBoost is a strong example of how we are migrating technology and engineering across our line-up, ensuring our vehicles are fun to drive,” said Nair. “From our most nimble Fiesta to our hard-working full-size pickups and racing vehicles, our line-up benefits from the innovations we deliver at the track and at the limit.”

Another example of this technology transfer can be found in the recently revealed Shelby GT350 Mustang, which goes on sale next year in the US and Canada. Aerodynamic innovations developed through Ford’s investment in racing were applied to the front end of the new Shelby GT350 Mustang, helping to improve cooling.

Ford says it considers racing an important proving ground for cultivating passionate engineers – allowing them to innovate in top-level competition as they face challenges that require successful solutions in very compressed time frames. However, although Ford purchased Jackie Stewart’s Formula 1 Stewart Grand Prix in June 1999 to rename it Jaguar Racing, the company became less passionate about F1 when the cost-benefit ratio was moving on the wrong direction. Ford pulled out of the fast lane when it sold the activity to energy drink business Red Bull in November 2004.

The new Ford performance organization unifies Ford SVT, Team RS and Ford Racing globally, serving as an innovation laboratory and test bed to create unique performance vehicles, parts, accessories and experiences for customers. In this respect, it will be interesting to see if the new 2.7-litre EcoBoost gasoline engine with its compacted graphite iron (CGI) vee block makes an appearance.

This includes developing innovations and technologies in aerodynamics, light-weighting, electronics, powertrain performance and fuel efficiency that can be applied more broadly to Ford’s product portfolio.

In addition to using racetracks around the world, the team will develop new vehicles and technologies at Ford’s engineering centres globally and at the new technical centre in Charlotte, North Carolina. This state-of-the-art facility will help the team deliver racing innovations, as well as advance tools for use in performance vehicles and daily drivers alike.

The Ford performance organization is led by Dave Pericak, who has been appointed director, global Ford performance. Pericak has been Mustang chief engineer since 2008. He once famously said: ““My job is to blow through the roadblocks and pave the ground and then say ‘drive baby’ and then they do it.

This is a golden opportunity for Pericak to prove himself; Nair no doubt will be watching Pericak’s own performance.

1 comment:

Alan Bunting said...

Is Ford missing a trick? Unlike some competitors, the VW group in particular, Ford seems disinclined to offer diesel-engined so-called performance cars. Why doesn't Ford have a direct Focus range rival to the Golf GTD? I suspect it's largely down to Detroit's totally-irrational wariness of diesel power in passenger cars. The guys in Dearborn must be utterly baffled by the diesel-engined Porsche Cayenne - which could never sell in the US.