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There have been rumors that Ford CEO Alan Mulally could assume the top job over at Microsoft, whose CEO, Steve Ballmer, will retire within the year. Mulally hasn't come out and said that he's considering moving to Microsoft after (or before) his contract with Ford through 2014 ends, but sources in the know say he's the front-runner to become the tech giant's CEO and has opened up to the idea more in recent weeks, AllThingsD reports.
Mulally is no stranger to Washington, where Microsoft is located, having worked in the state for Seattle-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes as CEO years ago. He also recently was an adviser to Ballmer in an effort to realign the company's management structure to help it become more competitive in a fast-changing computer hardware and software market. And when Ford developed its Sync digital interface, it tapped Microsoft to provide the operating system, Microsoft Auto. Perhaps the least crucial connection - but nonetheless an important one - is that Mulally still owns a house in the Seattle area, and it's been said he wants to return there, according to AllThingsD.
A main challenge Microsoft's next CEO will face is how to manage the company's numerous, fractured operations and, eventually, streamline them. But even on this front, Mulally has experience; after all, it was he who ushered in an era of global Ford vehicles, after the automaker had become complacent developing and selling vehicles by region leading up to the economic recession of 2008-2009.
Ford can't seem to build F-150 SVT Raptors fast enough. The off-road-ready trucks have been one of the Blue Oval's most reliable sellers, with record sales in eight of the last 10 months and a 14-percent jump in 2013. That's impressive enough, considering that the least expensive Raptor starts at $44,000. Factor in the modded F-150's fuel economy (it's rated at 11 miles per gallon in the city and 16 on the highway) and a national average gas price, as of this writing, of $3.55 per gallon, and its success is as unlikely as Ford's home team, the Detroit Lions, winning the Super Bowl this year (sorry, Lions fans, we're just quoting the experts in Vegas...).
Yet for some reason, Raptors spend an average of just 15 days on dealer lots before being snapped up, which is a quarter of the 60-day industry average. According to Ford's truck group marketing manager, Doug Scott, it's capability that keeps the Raptor selling strong. "What's helping drive Raptor sales is that Raptor delivers unmatched off-road performance to our customers. Raptor is also proof of our commitment to offer a truck for every customer and continuously improving them to meet our customers' evolving needs."
To address the strong demand for Raptors, Ford will bump production from three trucks per hour to five. Not much, we agree. But building an extra 48 trucks per day, at most, seems like a prudent way of addressing demand without oversaturating what is ultimately a niche market. Check out the press release below for more.
Back in October, there were reports that General Motors and Ford Motor Company were hard at work co-developing new nine- and ten-speed automatic transmissions, and now both automakers have confirmed this joint operation. While there are no specific vehicles mentioned to receive either transmission, a collaborative press release issued by GM and Ford mention that the transmission will be designed for front- and rear-wheel-drive cars, crossovers, trucks and SUVs.
These aren't the first powertrain components developed jointly between these cross-town rivals, either. The six-speed automatic currently used in vehicles like the Ford Edge, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Equinox was engineered in a similar fashion. As is the case with this existing transmission, both automakers will assist in the design, development and testing of the new transmissions, but each will build its own units in its own factories. Scroll down for the official press release.