Drive Type: U/K
Jackson, Michigan, United States
Recalls! 2014 will be forever remembered as the year that automakers went recall crazy, with millions and millions of vehicles adding up to crush previous recall records well before the end of the year. Adding to that tally is Ford, which announced a call-back for 163,000 vehicles.
Leading that charge are the 2.0-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder engines of the Ford Focus ST and Ford Escape. 160,000 of the 2013 and 2014 models have bad wiring harnesses that can disrupt the signals traveling to the powertrain control module. That, in turn, could lead to a check engine light, reduced power and stalling. Notably, Ford hasn't recalled any other vehicles that feature the 2.0 EcoBoost, such as the Fusion, Taurus or Explorer.
While the Focus ST and Escape constitute the vast majority of recalled vehicles, they aren't the only problem children in the Ford family. 1,300 Transit passenger vans from model year 2015 were recalled due to brake fluid leaks, while another 600 Transit cargo variants were recalled after Ford discovered the windowless sliding doors could come open in the event of a side-impact crash. Dealers will replace the sealing washers on the passenger variants and add a reinforcement plate on the cargo models, The Detroit News reports.
According to a Bloomberg report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has upgraded an investigation into complaints of unintended acceleration lodged against Ford vehicles. The investigation began in June of 2010 when just three complaints had been received and it only concerned the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, but this was at a time when the phrase "unintended acceleration" made grown men go pale. With 49 additional complaints received since then, the investigation has been reclassified as an engineering analysis - the last phase before a recall - and it has been expanded to include the Lincoln MKZ, making for a total of "around 480,000" units affected between the three sedans from the 2008 to 2010 model years.
The ostensible cause is that floor mats are trapping the accelerator pedal, but according to a Ford statement at the time, the entrapment is due to owners placing the optional all-weather floor mats, or aftermarket floor mats, on top of the car's standard floor mats. NHTSA has backed up that assessment, pinning the blame on "unsecured or double stacked floor mats."
On the face of it, it would appear that NHTSA has upgraded the status not because of Ford's error, but owner error, and Ford has stated publicly that it is "disappointed" in NHTSA's move. On top of NHTSA still being skittish after that other unintended acceleration debacle, it could be seen to be taking its time investigating all of the variables: it's reported that Ford changed its accelerator pedal design in 2010, a "heel blocker" in the floorpan has been considered a potential culprit in how the floor mats could be trapping the pedal, some drivers have said the floor mats weren't anywhere near the pedal, and according to a report in the LA Times, in "a letter sent by Ford to NHTSA in August 2010, the automaker said it found three injuries and one fatality that 'may have resulted from the alleged defect.'"
In the next decade, the auto industry will see an explosion in its use of aluminum to cut weight and increase fuel economy, according to a study from market analysts Ducker Worldwide cited by The Detroit News. We are already seeing the lightweight metal show up extensively in luxury models from Europe, but with the impending launch of aluminum-intensive 2015 Ford F-150 (pictured above), North America is using it even more, as well. The report predicts 70 percent of US pickups to have aluminum bodies by 2025.
It won't just be pickups that see the benefit, though. The average amount of aluminum in US vehicles is forecasted by the study to grow from an average of 350 pounds in 2013 to about 550 pounds by 2025. The most common parts to use it will be hoods, doors and - to some extent - roofs, as well.
The massive increase in pickups' aluminum content hardly seems surprising. The F-150 is predicted to use so much that it might cause a short-term shortage, according to one earlier report. At the same time General Motors is heavily rumored to be negotiating with suppliers for the next generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Ram is the last holdout of the Big Three, but the study predicts that not to last.