Drive Type: 4x4
Number of Cylinders: 8
Trim: Rock Crawler
Asheville, North Carolina, United States
The Russian auto market, in decline for the past year and further hit by the declining value of the ruble and recent sanctions over its annexation of Crimea, has forced Ford to cut jobs and shifts at two of its joint venture plants there. Around 700 of the 2,700 total workers who build the Russian-market Focus and Mondeo will be cut at the plant in Vsevolozhsk, near St. Petersburg as it drops to a single production shift. A second plant about 700 miles away in Yelabuga, in the Tartarstan region, will lose 250 workers. That plant builds seven vehicles, including the Explorer, Kuga and Edge.
The Moscow Times says Ford has been especially hit by the market decline, the overall market losing 5.5 percent in 2013 compared to the year before, but Ford sales dropping 18 percent in 2013 year-on-year. This year isn't going any better, with The Blue Oval posting a 21-percent decline through the first two months of 2014. That's why, though the Yelabuga plant builds the CUVs that customers are moving into, even it is facing cuts.
The job cuts in Vsevolozhsk come on top four-week plant shutdown planned so that the paint and body shops can go to one shift. In a statement, the company said, "Ford Sollers remains absolutely committed to the Russian market and is confident it has the right product plan, people and assets to deliver long-term profitable growth."
Ford hybrid customers apparently have very short memories. With two EPA fuel economy reratings in the last year, sales of the C-Max, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ haven't been too terribly dented, Ward's Auto reports.
All three vehicles saw sales dips following the August 2013 rerating, although sales of the MKZ Hybrid had begun to rebound as early as November of that year. C-Max sales, meanwhile, took slightly longer, with sales on a steadily improving course as early as February of this year.
The second rerating, in June of this year, has had an even smaller effect on the Blue Oval's hybrids. The C-Max has actually been subject to a sales increase, while both the MKZ and Fusion saw minor sales drops (less than 400 units between the two in the month following the rerating).
The eagerly anticipated Ford F-150 has had its 2015 pricing announced, adding only a small amount to the pickup's total cost, despite its weight-saving aluminum body. The XL and XLT entry level models only see a $395 boost over the heavier, current-generation, 2014 truck.
The XL starts at $26,615 while the XLT rings up at $31,890. The increase for Lariat is up a similarly negligible $895, to $39,880. Going up the ladder, meanwhile, the leather-intensive King Ranch sees the biggest jump of the F-150 family, with prices increasing $3,515, to $49,460. Finally, picking up the top-end Platinum trim will cost an extra $3,055, with prices starting at $52,155.
The higher prices are being blamed not only on the aluminum bodies, which trim up to 700 pounds of body fat, but on increased levels of standard equipment. While we were expecting a price hike, the fact that the 2015 F-150's volume trims - Ford spokesman Mike Levine told Reuters that the XL and XLT alone cover 70 percent of F-150 sales - have had less than a $400 increase is hugely impressive.