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Ford can't seem to build F-150 SVT Raptors fast enough. The off-road-ready trucks have been one of the Blue Oval's most reliable sellers, with record sales in eight of the last 10 months and a 14-percent jump in 2013. That's impressive enough, considering that the least expensive Raptor starts at $44,000. Factor in the modded F-150's fuel economy (it's rated at 11 miles per gallon in the city and 16 on the highway) and a national average gas price, as of this writing, of $3.55 per gallon, and its success is as unlikely as Ford's home team, the Detroit Lions, winning the Super Bowl this year (sorry, Lions fans, we're just quoting the experts in Vegas...).
Yet for some reason, Raptors spend an average of just 15 days on dealer lots before being snapped up, which is a quarter of the 60-day industry average. According to Ford's truck group marketing manager, Doug Scott, it's capability that keeps the Raptor selling strong. "What's helping drive Raptor sales is that Raptor delivers unmatched off-road performance to our customers. Raptor is also proof of our commitment to offer a truck for every customer and continuously improving them to meet our customers' evolving needs."
To address the strong demand for Raptors, Ford will bump production from three trucks per hour to five. Not much, we agree. But building an extra 48 trucks per day, at most, seems like a prudent way of addressing demand without oversaturating what is ultimately a niche market. Check out the press release below for more.
In a show of generosity in mid-August, Detroit's business leaders donated $8 million to the Police Department and Fire Department in order to buy 100 new police vehicles and 23 EMS ambulances. But now officers have discovered - and complained - that the police vehicles have glaring safety issues, Deadline Detroit reports. It is not made clear what models of the fleet vehicles - which include police versions of the Ford Taurus, the Chevrolet Caprice and the Dodge Charger - are affected by the safety issues.
Officers reportedly have complained that the Plexiglass partition separating front-seat officers and back-seat prisoners is easily breached, and that the front passenger seat is installed too close to the dashboard. Prisoners who manage to writhe out of their handcuffs can bend the Plexiglass and reach into the cockpit, and sitting too close to the dashboard can render airbags more dangerous and make officers more vulnerable to injury in a crash.
Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, received the complaints and reportedly said the vehicles would get safety updates addressing the issues. But Deadline Detroit reports that it checked some of the offending police cars and, as of the last few days, they hadn't been updated.
Autonomous cars may still be in their infancy, but more and more big names in the auto industry are diving in head first. Nissan is already making strides with a semi-autonomous Leaf EV and General Motors is planning to offer semi-autonomous tech by 2020. And then there's Google, doing its thing with a fleet of Toyota Prius. Now, Ford is showing off its latest automated effort, a driverless Fusion Hybrid.
Partnering with the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and State Farm Insurance, the project is part of Ford's Blueprint for Mobility, the company's plan for transportation beyond 2025. "The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility," Chairman Bill Ford said. "We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment."
The automated Fusion features four LiDAR infrared sensors that scan the road 2.5 million times every second, using a principle similar to the echolocation used by dolphins or bats. Using the infrared light emitted by the LiDAR, the car can draw a picture of everything within 200 feet to create a map of its surroundings. According to Ford, the sensors are able to tell the difference between a paper bag and a small animal from a football field away.