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Auto blogThu, 22 Aug 2013 00:01:00 EST
Knowing how the bacon gets made rarely entices us and, in the same vein, the same usually goes for knowing about how new cars get painted. But in both instances, however, quality - or a lack thereof - is instantly obvious. In terms of the latter, Ford is showing off its new paint quality process with 3D Dirt Detection Technology to find imperfections in vehicle paint more easily and more quickly.
This process - being performed on the F-150 SVT Raptor above - uses 16 computer-controlled cameras to create a three-dimensional model (inset) of the vehicle to detect flaws in the paint including dirt particles, which can then be buffed out manually. Ford says this new technology cuts down on time spent looking for paint flaws and gives workers more time to correct those that are discovered.
Currently, Ford only uses its 3D Dirt Detection Technology system at three factories (the Dearborn, MI facility, along with those in Louisville, Kentucky and Valencia, Spain), but it will soon spread to five more plants in North America. Ford has released a video and press release for this innovative and unexpectedly interesting process, both of which are posted below.
The Ford Fusion may already beat the Toyota Camry in terms of models offered, transaction price and sales increase so far this year, but if the Fusion wants to make a run at the title of best-selling car in the US, Bloomberg reminds us that volume is key. Opening a second production line at the Flat Rock, MI assembly plant will reportedly allow Ford to produce around 350,000 Fusions annually, which compares Toyota's ability to crank out 475,000 Camrys and Honda's capacity to build around 450,000 Accords.
For the Fusion, that's an extra 100,000 units compared to the car's current pace, and the article adds that the Fusion is "Ford's best shot" to regain the passenger car sales crown - a title it (or any other US automaker, for that matter) hasn't held since the mid-1990s. Despite hiccups with recalls and fuel economy numbers, the Ford Fusion is still red hot when it comes to sales. Fusion sales are up 13 percent so far this year (compared to a 0.6 percent decrease for Camry), and its average transaction price of $26,343 is about $2,300 more than its rival from Toyota.
The Fusion's popularity has helped Ford improve its sales in California; the Dearborn-based automaker has a market share of 18 percent in the state, which is just a fraction of a percentage behind Honda. And this popularity should continue as Ford ups Fusion production and expands the model lineup even further for 2014 with a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine soon to become an option.
Ford will be putting the brakes on production at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI, idling production during the weeks of October 28 and December 16. Ford is citing the first drop in US sales in 27 months, a 4.2-percent dip in September, as the impetus for trimming their supplies, according to Automotive News.
Ford's deft management of its supplies has been part of its success over the years, and seeing supplies of Focus and C-Max, the two vehicles built at MAP, rise from 58 and 108 days, respectively, to 71 and 122 days over the span of a month was apparently all that was need to justify the trimming. As AN points out, the rule of thumb for many automakers is to maintain a 60-day supply of vehicles.
"Ford has been focused on keeping their pricing in check. Their operating margin is in double digits. Nobody else is there and they're obviously very proud of that," Alan Baum, an auto analyst with Baum & Associates told AN. Keeping the supply chain operating smoothly and not increasing supplies too much is crucial to that healthy profit margin. After all, a large supply lowers prices ,which, in turn, cuts profit. So while this news might not be great for employees at MAP, who now have an extra two weeks of vacation time, it's far from a sign of problems in Dearborn. Quite the opposite, actually.