Engine:351 M V8
Body Type:Short Bed step side
Exterior Color: Light Brown
Interior Color: Light Tan
Number of Cylinders: 8
Trim: Short bed
Drive Type: RWD
Anaconda, Montana, United States
Ford is doing well. It can't make enough examples of its new Fusion, it can barely make enough of the aging F-150, it's getting good brand rankings, people like its turnaround story, it's selling oodles of product and its quarterly profit numbers end in the word "billion." As other high-flying examples have demonstrated over the past few years, though, big numbers can come with problems that aren't exactly small.
Automotive News has published a good "nutshell" report of Ford's progress and problems. The Dearborn automaker's optimistic "general label rule" determination of gas mileage for the C-Max Hybrid has led to lawsuits, hybrid software updates, a downward revision of C-Max fuel economy and millions in rebates. AN notes the C-Max was the "worst-scoring model in this year's J.D. Power Initial Quality Study," but Ford will probably be happy that it managed not to be mentioned further in the study's results after last year's mediocre showing. Its MyTouch and SYNC systems, the bugbears sabotaging Ford's J.D. Power results, have also led to lawsuits, software updates, more software updates and a center console rethink. On top of that, the 1.6-liter EcoBoost in the 2013 Ford Escape that Ford called a "hero" was soon catching fire for three different reasons. And let's not even get into the troubled launch of the Lincoln MKZ.
The Automotive News piece notes that industry observers have been surprised at Ford's stumbles because everything has been looking so good. Nevertheless, there is still the issue of those billions in profits - the company is doing plenty of things, plural, right. Ford says it is tackling its problems, hiring engineers and instituting new quality control processes as part of its effort to find solutions. The test will be to see if in a year from now we begin the discussion of these issues with "Remember when Ford...", or "Problems continue at The Blue Oval."
There's no doubt that Ford is taking a risk in producing the body of its upcoming new F-150 pickup truck in aluminum. What is up for debate, however, is whether aluminum was a wise risk to take in the first place. Wards Auto took the opportunity to poll some experts on the subject of aluminum versus steel in the automotive sector, with somewhat unsurprising results.
Richard Schultz, a project consultant at Ducker Worldwide, which bills itself as "a leading aluminum industry consultant (though they also deal in steels), suggests that the potential drawbacks to aluminum - higher costs, lower supply - aren't really impediments to the auto industry's increased acceptance of the lightweight metal.
Similarly, Randall Scheps, global automotive marketing director for Alcoa, a massive aluminum producer, counters claims that aluminum is less safe for vehicle occupants, suggesting that the use of aluminum can actually increase safety as it could potentially allow for larger vehicles with more crush space than steel.
What would Batman drive for his weekly trips to Home Depot for the bits and pieces needed to keep his lair deep below Wayne Manor in tip-top condition? Certainly not the Batmobile - there's no way a 4x8 sheet of plywood will fit between the wheel wells, not to mention the fact that jet turbine engines have an unfortunate tendency to set trailers on fire when towing...
No, what Batman needs is a pickup truck. The boys from Ford teamed up with Galpin Auto Sports to build just such a machine, and it has just debuted at Comic Con. Designed by Jared Barris, grandson of the legendary kustomizer George Barris, the 2012 F-150 pickup you see here, dubbed Crime Fighter, is painted Tuxedo Black with Ferrari Red highlights and is affixed with fins on each side of the truck bed. It's nothing if not unique.
Well, it's at least unique for now. According to Ford, Galpin in Southern California is willing to take orders for customers looking to don a cape and hit the town for a night of crime-fighting action. Or trips to Home Depot. Check out our high-res image gallery and then scroll down for the official description from Ford. We're waiting for details such as pricing and build time from Ford, and we'll update this post if and when we hear back.