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Auto blogMon, 23 Sep 2013 18:40:00 EST
Ford is in a bit of a pickle for importing and selling Turkey-built Transit Connect cargo vans as passenger vehicles in the US, then converting them to commercial-vehicle specification stateside in an effort to bypass a 25-percent tax imposed on vehicles imported for commercial use. Automakers are required to pay a 2.5-percent tax on imported passenger vehicles.
The Blue Oval got into trouble for this in a January ruling in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials asked Ford to stop the practice of importing the Transit Connect vehicles with passenger seats, then removing and shredding them. Now Automotive News reports that Ford is appealing the ruling. The 25-percent "Chicken Tax," as the tariff is often called, is 50 years old and was enacted as a response to a German tariff on chickens. Like Ford, Chrysler bypasses the higher tariff, but it does so in a different manner. It partially disassembles Sprinter cargo vans before shipping them to the US, then rebuilds them at a plant in South Carolina.
But the ruling against Ford's strategy states that it "serves no manufacturing or commercial purpose" and is there to "manipulate the tariff schedule," Automotive News reports. As Ford's appeal goes through, it is importing the Transit Connect and paying the higher tax, hoping for a favorable outcome and planning to build the next-generation Transit Connect, which it plans to launch before the end of the year, in Spain.
A potential issue with the speed control cable collar has got the 2003-20003 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable under the spotlight of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the collar breaks it can cause the throttle to be stuck open.
The issue is limited to vehicles with the 3.0-liter V6 Duratec. There are just 50 complaints so far out of 310,000 cars, but the NHTSA has begun an investigation into whether a recall should be issued.
According to a report in Bloomberg, the 2015 Ford F-150 will indeed be showing up at the Detroit Auto Show next month. It will bring attitude with it, not only in the form of sheetmetal inspired by the Atlas concept (pictured) that appeared at the 2013 Detroit show but also in the Alcoa military blast shields among the display being used to showcase the ruggedness of aluminum.
There's been a lot of talk about the F-150 switching to aluminum body panels (although maintaining a steel frame), and for good reason. The lightweight body is expected to shed more than 700 pounds and greatly increase its highway mileage, but production-line issues and possible delays have been a major focus of attention concerning the best-selling vehicle in America for 32 years, meaning Ford has to get it right. F-150 is responsible for a massive portion of the company's global profits and it will come in a year when company profits are already predicted to decline because of new car launches.
When it comes to dings, the Bloomberg story says Ford wants Alcoa to supply some of the military-grade aluminum it uses for blast shields on battlefield vehicles to help it talk up the toughness of aluminum. Reading commentary on the many stories about the F-150 reveals there are many more little questions about the aluminum overhaul, like "How much will it cost to repair and insure?" and "How will companies hang their magnetic signs?" Answers should start coming in a couple of weeks.