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Auto blogSun, 13 Apr 2014 15:00:00 EST
Ford made some serious waves when it unveiled the latest F-150. Instead of making its bodywork out of steel, like just about every other truck on the market, Ford went with aluminum. And you can bet the F-150 won't be the last Ford model to go with the lightweight alloy construction, either.
Our compatriots at Edmunds report that Dearborn is considering replacing two of its most popular SUVs with aluminum versions. One candidate is the Expedition, which would make sense considering that the current model (like the two preceding generations and the fullsize Bronco before it) is based on the F-150's underpinnings. Another is the Explorer, which was traditionally based on the Ranger pickup but went with a car-like unibody chassis in its current iteration. If the Explorer does go the way of aluminum, don't expect it to be a part of its very next update, which is likely due too soon for such major changes.
It would stand to reason that, if the Expedition were to go aluminum, so would the next-generation Lincoln Navigator. Ditto the MKT together with the Explorer. But those aren't likely to be the only models in contention for aluminum construction. Like any other automaker, Ford is under pressure to steadily reduce its carbon emissions and improve its fuel economy figures, prompting it to look at a whole range of measures - including more efficient engines, lower rolling-resistance tires, active aerodynamics and lightweight construction. Expect aluminum to play a big part in that equation moving forward.
As predicted, Ford has reported that its first quarter of 2013 was a resounding success overall, with a pretax profit of $2.1 billion ($0.41 per share), and a net income of $1.6 billion ($0.40 per share). In fact, Ford made a pretax profit of some $2.4 billion in its home North American market, with that total number being pulled down by losses in South America and Europe. That gaudy North American profit is the strongest result by the automaker since 2000.
Ford's companywide profit for Q1 was down $147 million from one year ago, while the net income number marked an increase of $215 million year over year. Overall, this is Ford's 15th-consecutive profitable quarter.
The bad news from the European market was even worst in Q1 2013 than it was last year. Pretax losses of $462 million - on revenue of $6.7 billion - represented a year-over-year change of -$313 million. In South American, the company reported a loss of $218 million, down from a slim profit of $54 million in Q1 2012. The news was better for Ford Asia Pacific Africa, where a $6 million pretax profit in 2013 showed a year-over-year gain of some $101 million when compared to losses in 2012. Scroll down to read Ford's full press release.
Ford might not have the splashiest booth here at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, but the automaker is showing off quite a bit of hardware that will actually end up on roads across Europe. Parisians are no doubt tickled at getting to see the specifications of the Mustang tuned for The Continent (which has a revised suspension for European roads, and a few visual nips and tucks), in addition to the revised face of the family-friendly C-Max.
As you can see, C-Max styling has been revisited with a deft touch, grafting Ford's six-sided corporate grille on the nose, in place of the outgoing car's two-part affair. New headlights can also be found on the car's revised front fascia, though the rear end of the C-Max looks only slightly different than the current version.
Inside the cabin, Ford has consolidated controls and upped the ante in terms of material quality, with "black satin" and chrome details and more storage capacity, overall. Grocery-lugging moms and dads everywhere should appreciate the hands-free liftgate feature, as well.