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Auto blogMon, 21 Apr 2014 14:28:00 EST
Ford officially revived the Escort name in China, showing of the new, four-door compact at the Beijing Motor Show. Painted in a stylish brown-bronze, the new sedan wears a number of global Ford styling cues while sharing its platform with the Ford Focus.
Power for the new model comes from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, although Ford doesn't specify just how much power is on offer, simply saying that the fuel economy of the new mill will be "outstanding." It's unclear what transmission will be distributing the engine's power, although based on the images we've seen, the Escort will definitely offer a two-pedal setup.
The layout of the cabin is fairly clean, although as we mentioned in our initial post on the new Escort, it's a decidedly sparser environment than we've grown use to in US-spec Fords of late. If anything, it's like a weird blend of current Ford switchgear with an overall look that reminds us of older Ford layouts. Still, it looks like a comfortable way of moving five people about without too much fuss. There's ample space both front and rear, and a rather spacious trunk.
Ford has gone all-in on its efforts to offer most of its new vehicles with a fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine, but the automaker is reportedly preparing to take another big step toward improving vehicle efficiency. Automotive News is reporting that Ford will soon expand the availability of start-stop technology, which was first offered - presumably the first non-hybrid vehicle, that is - on the 2013 Fusion (equipped with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine) as a $295 option.
The benefit of start-stop is reduced fuel consumption as it shuts the engine off at long stops, and AN quotes Ford as saying that drivers can save more than $1,000 on fuel costs over five years. Despite this, the option hasn't been popular on the Fusion thus far, but it could be more beneficial on bigger vehicles like the F-150. Ford also said that the next-gen Edge, which was previewed in concept form at the LA Auto Show, will be equipped with auto start-stop to help make the EcoBoost engines even more efficient.
Ford is doing well. It can't make enough examples of its new Fusion, it can barely make enough of the aging F-150, it's getting good brand rankings, people like its turnaround story, it's selling oodles of product and its quarterly profit numbers end in the word "billion." As other high-flying examples have demonstrated over the past few years, though, big numbers can come with problems that aren't exactly small.
Automotive News has published a good "nutshell" report of Ford's progress and problems. The Dearborn automaker's optimistic "general label rule" determination of gas mileage for the C-Max Hybrid has led to lawsuits, hybrid software updates, a downward revision of C-Max fuel economy and millions in rebates. AN notes the C-Max was the "worst-scoring model in this year's J.D. Power Initial Quality Study," but Ford will probably be happy that it managed not to be mentioned further in the study's results after last year's mediocre showing. Its MyTouch and SYNC systems, the bugbears sabotaging Ford's J.D. Power results, have also led to lawsuits, software updates, more software updates and a center console rethink. On top of that, the 1.6-liter EcoBoost in the 2013 Ford Escape that Ford called a "hero" was soon catching fire for three different reasons. And let's not even get into the troubled launch of the Lincoln MKZ.
The Automotive News piece notes that industry observers have been surprised at Ford's stumbles because everything has been looking so good. Nevertheless, there is still the issue of those billions in profits - the company is doing plenty of things, plural, right. Ford says it is tackling its problems, hiring engineers and instituting new quality control processes as part of its effort to find solutions. The test will be to see if in a year from now we begin the discussion of these issues with "Remember when Ford...", or "Problems continue at The Blue Oval."