Engine:V6 3.9L OHV
Trim: SE Mini Passenger Van 4-Door
Sub Model: SE
Drive Type: FWD
Exterior Color: Silver
Number of Cylinders: 6
Interior Color: Gray
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Auto blogTue, 26 Nov 2013 15:59:00 EST
While most of us believe that small, fuel efficient cars are the key to global expansion for US automakers, Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of Global Marketing, thinks otherwise. Last week, we attended an exclusive sneak preview of the Ford Edge Concept in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Farley told us that it's actually utility vehicles that will help the Blue Oval gain market share overseas. "There is no other segment in our industry that is growing like utilities," he said. "We expect over the next five years this full family of [utility] vehicles to really drive our growth as a company."
And Farley has the numbers to back it up, too. Ford projects overall automotive sales to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2017, but the company's utility vehicles are expected to boom by an impressive 41 percent during that same period. Much of that growth will be in China, where Ford estimates its utility sales will explode. "The biggest opportunity for us globally for utilities is in China," Farley said. "China utility growth is expected to more than double from where it is today to 2017, which isn't that far away." Most astounding is that Ford projects its own utility sales in China will eventually increase by more than 2,000 percent when smaller crossovers, such as the EcoSport and Kuga (sold as the Escape in North America), and the Edge and Explorer, are factored in.
Ford's VP also expects utilities to lead the way in the struggling European market. "With all the difficulties of the European market, there is one segment that has actually expanded in volume over the last several years even though the market is way down, and that's utilities," Farley told us. Ford estimates that their utility sales will grow 65 percent in Europe from 2012-2017. "The utility segment is projected to grow we think about thirty percent between now and 2017 in Europe, and we think we are going to grow twice that rate as a brand," Farley continued.
We've said it before, but bears repeating: Pickup trucks are the financial engines of America's automakers. Good thing, then, that the segment is in rude health - in fact, Automotive News is suggesting that pickup truck sales are arguably healthier than they were pre-recession, even though the segment's volume is still significantly down from where it was before the bottom fell out of the US economy. That's because per-unit profits on full-size trucks are skyrocketing, outpacing the industry's average price increases by more than double since 2005. According to data from Edmunds, the average transaction price of a full-size pickup is now $39,915 - a heady increase over the $31,059 average price in 2005 - a gain of over 8 percent after inflation is factored in.
Just how important are trucks to automakers' bottom lines? Automotive News quotes a Morgan Stanley analyst as saying the Ford F-Series is responsible for 90 percent of the company's 2012 profits, and General Motors isn't far behind, with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins chipping in about two-thirds of the automaker's earnings.
Automotive News points out that Detroit's automakers now have the money to invest in modernizing their full-size truck offerings, in part because they don't have the same overhead and legacy costs that pushed General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy. Certainly, the pickup segment has seen a lot of innovations as of late, including turbocharged V6s, coil-spring rear suspensions and active aero. Those improvements in important areas like fuel economy and ride comfort have given existing pickup buyers new reasons to upgrade. In addition, automakers are piling on the tech and luxury goodies, creating more and more high-content, high-profit models like the Ford F-150 King Ranch, Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn and Chevrolet Silverado High Country (shown).
Auto enthusiasts love a good debate, whether it's Mustang versus Camaro or Ferrari against Lamborghini. But how about a battle between two very different vintages of classic pickup trucks? In this case, the fight is between a 1979 Dodge Li'l Red Express and a 1933 Ford Model 46 truck with a flathead V8.
The shootout comes courtesy of the internet series Generation Gap, and its concept is super-simple. One guy prefers classics, and the other likes newer rides. They choose a category, pick two vehicles and put them head to head. In this case, neither is exactly modern, though. The Ford is more than old enough to receive Social Security checks, and the Dodge is hardly a young whippersnapper.
Other than both being pickups, these two models were made to serve very different functions. The Li'l Red Express was basically the progenitor of today's muscle trucks, with a big V8 that made it one of the quickest new models in its day (admittedly, 1979 was a rough time for automotive performance). On the other hand, the '33 Ford was just meant to work, with little pretense for anything else. One of the hosts describes it as "the simplest, most difficult" vehicle he's driven because of the tricky double clutchwork necessary to shift gears. Scroll down to watch the video and try to decide which of these two American classics you would rather have in your garage.