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Auto blogTue, 16 Jul 2013
Ford has announced that it is introducing "calibration updates designed to improve on-road fuel economy for owners of the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid."
We can speculate that these changes are at least due in part to lawsuits over mileage claims of hybrid vehicles. The automaker is enhancing 2013 models starting in August by raising their electric cruising speed to 85 miles per hour from 62 mph, optimizing the use of active grille shutters and the climate control system, shortening the engine warm-up period by 50 percent and reducing electric fan speed to minimize the fan's energy consumption.
It bears mentioning that Ford is doing pretty well in the US electrified vehicle market this year. The company claims to have grown its share in the segment by 12 points to 16 percent while taking a high number of Toyota Prius trade-ins in the process. Conversely, Toyota has experienced a five-percent drop in new-Prius sales over the same period. Additionally, Ford states that it has increased its share of the US vehicle market by one percent this year, more than any full-line automaker.
The poor first quarter earnings of Ford and General Motors are having an effect all the way up the food chain. Both automakers struggled with recalls in the first three months of the year, and, according to The Detroit News, they have responded by increasing the percentage of bonuses tied to vehicle quality for salaried workers, including top executives.
GM announced that 25 percent of bonuses (up from 10 percent) for all salaried workers would be tied to its vehicle quality standards. The automaker revealed in its financial report that it spent $1.3 billion on recall-related repairs in the first quarter, and net income was down 86 percent.
Ford also increased the quality proportion of bonuses for about 26,000 salaried workers all the way up to CEO Alan Mulally from 10 percent to 20 percent. The company announced in its report that the amount paid out in warranty and recall claims was about $400 million higher than expected in the first quarter. Its net income fell 39 percent from the previous year. "The change reflects how critical quality is to our overall business," said spokesperson Todd Nissen speaking to Autoblog.
The Detroit News reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially closed its investigations into 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2004-2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey models. The separate probes found no issues that pose safety concerns. NHTSA began investigating certain Grand Cherokee SUVs over complaints that power steering hoses could detach during operation, thereby increasing the risk of a vehicle fire. Of the 24 reports of failure, none alleged smoke or fire in the engine bay, and Chrysler has since modified the power steering cooler assembly to reduce the likelihood of the failure.
Meanwhile, certain Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey vehicles garnered a government probe after receiving complaints that the models were equipped with faulty scissor jacks. The agency had received six reports of the jacks failing or causing injuries, including one incident that resulted in a fatality. But NHTSA says the jack failure rate is similar to those found in other vehicles. In those six cases, the government agency found the jacks were being used for something other than changing a tire, and investigators could not determine whether the emergency brake was set or the rear tires were properly chocked.