Drive Type: rwd
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States
Ford officially revived the Escort name in China, showing of the new, four-door compact at the Beijing Motor Show. Painted in a stylish brown-bronze, the new sedan wears a number of global Ford styling cues while sharing its platform with the Ford Focus.
Power for the new model comes from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, although Ford doesn't specify just how much power is on offer, simply saying that the fuel economy of the new mill will be "outstanding." It's unclear what transmission will be distributing the engine's power, although based on the images we've seen, the Escort will definitely offer a two-pedal setup.
The layout of the cabin is fairly clean, although as we mentioned in our initial post on the new Escort, it's a decidedly sparser environment than we've grown use to in US-spec Fords of late. If anything, it's like a weird blend of current Ford switchgear with an overall look that reminds us of older Ford layouts. Still, it looks like a comfortable way of moving five people about without too much fuss. There's ample space both front and rear, and a rather spacious trunk.
Ford has already confirmed that the 2015 F-150 (pictured above) was just the beginning for its more extensive use of aluminum. CEO Alan Mulally said it himself during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. We've even already seen the future Raptor testing with an aluminum body. But a recent discovery from an intrepid spy photographer might indicate that the lightweight metal is coming to the Blue Oval's Super Duty pickups in their upcoming generation, as well.
According to Automotive News, a spy shooter in Colorado spotted a prototype for the next-gen F-350 testing. He happened to have a magnet on hand and got close enough to check the truck out. When he held it up to the metal in the bed, it didn't stick, which signaled to him a switch from steel to aluminum.
Obviously, this claim raises some questions. Given that it was a test vehicle, one possibility is that the Blue Oval is just evaluating the feasibility of switching to aluminum for the Super Duty trucks, not necessarily committed to it yet. Ford has been testing it quite exhaustively, after all. In fact, much of the rest of the truck in question was covered in camouflage, so it's possible that the magnet failed to work along the rest of the body not because it was aluminum, but because it wasn't powerful enough to get through the disguising material. Thus, the lightweight metal's use could be far less substantial than on the new F-150. Still, it was a clever idea for the cameraman to check things out and might have given us the first hint about brand's next heavy-duty models.
Ford's extensive use of aluminum in its 2015 F-150 is a big deal. A really big deal. Big enough, in fact, that General Motors is reportedly changing its fullsize pickup strategy. According to The Wall Street Journal, The General has locked in partnerships with Alcoa Inc. and Novelis Inc. - companies that will supply aluminum for the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.
"Ford's introduction of the 2015 F-150 pickup truck was a game changer, and it's the first, not the last, conversion of this type," Novelis spokesperson Charles Belbin told the Journal. The switch to aluminum has allowed Ford to shave roughly 700 pounds off its fullsize truck's curb weight. And while official mileage ratings have not been announced, the weight loss should go a long way for improving efficiency, especially when combined other efficiency-minded improvements including better aerodynamics and new, turbocharged V6 engines.
Of course, aluminum-bodied cars are nothing new. But extensive use of aluminum in a major, best-selling product like the Ford F-150 is expected to kick off widespread use of this weight-saving material as availability rises and cost decreases. The WSJ reports that GM had originally explored the idea of moving to aluminum pickups back in 2008, but abandoned the idea due to cost concerns amid economic woes.