Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is FT Person of the Year

BRENTWOOD, Essex, 29th March, 2011 – Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally has been recognised as Person of the Year in the third annual FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards.

The awards recognise companies and individuals who have challenged the status quo and taken calculated risks to drive their business forward in the face of current economic uncertainty.

Alan Mulally was commended for the turnaround plan that has allowed Ford to emerge from the financial crisis with sustained profitability.

It was also recognised that Ford did not rely on a government bailout and that Ford today is the most profitable car company in North America, having managed to change customer perceptions and earn a higher margin per vehicle sold.

Lionel Barber, editor, Financial Times, said: “This is the third year of the FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards and while the market remains undeniably challenging our shortlisted companies and individuals have displayed an inspiring ability to innovate and drive change. I would like to congratulate all of the winners for their dedication and boldness in driving their businesses above and beyond the competition.”

Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO, ArcelorMittal, said: “This has been another strong year for the FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards with an impressive array of winners and shortlisted companies. All the companies are inspirational and we should pause to consider what it takes to be bold like them. Think of the decisions that faced Alan Mulally at Ford when he chose to radically restructure the business or the strength of vision that inspired Apple to be a pioneer in the tablet market.  They
have all taken challenging, perhaps at times controversial paths, but ones that have ultimately proved highly successful. It takes courage to do this and I hope these awards will act as an inspiration to others.”

The judges for this year’s awards were:
  • Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times
  • Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO, ArcelorMittal
  • John Authers, Head of the Lex Column, Financial Times
  • J Frank Brown, Dean, INSEAD
  • Luke Johnson, Chairman, Risk Capital Partners
  • Anne Méaux, Founder & President, Image Sept
  • Terry Smith, Chief Executive, Tullet Prebon and founder of Fundsmith
  • Leo Johnson, Partner, PWC

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Ford Teams With AT&T to Wirelessly Connect New Ford Focus Electric

  • Ford Motor Company to use AT&T wireless network to connect new Ford Focus Electric
  • Wireless connection enables vehicle owners to control vehicle settings when away from the car – all part of a strategic approach to make Ford electric car ownership simple, easy and engaging
  • MyFord Mobile, Ford’s exclusive app powered by MapQuest data, will be accessible through a smartphone or secure website
  • Embedded wireless connection and dedicated app includes the ability for the owner to monitor and control vehicle charge settings, plan single- or multiple-stop journeys, locate charging stations, pre-heat or cool the car
Ford Focus Electric

DALLAS and DEARBORN, Mich., March 23, 2011 — Ford Motor Company and AT&T* today announced an agreement to wirelessly connect the Ford Focus Electric, Ford’s first all-electric passenger car. Announced in January at the 2011 International CES, the new Focus Electric enters production at the Michigan Assembly Plant in late 2011.

Through the new MyFord Mobile smartphone app, using the embedded AT&T wireless connection, Ford Focus Electric vehicle owners will have the ability to send and receive data about their car providing command and control of vehicle settings while away from it.

“Ford has been at the forefront of developing market leading telematics and infotainment services for its vehicles and we’re thrilled to be a part of this exciting and significant next step with the upcoming Focus Electric,” said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices, resale and partnerships, AT&T. “Connecting consumers directly to their electric vehicles in this new and innovative way is going to drive innovative and exciting levels of interaction.”

MyFord Mobile technology provides Focus Electric owners in North America with a powerful tool to stay connected, monitor and control their vehicle. Through a smartphone app or secure website, MyFord Mobile invites Focus Electric owners to plan trips, monitor the vehicle’s state of charge, receive various alerts for vehicle charging, as well as provides several other features designed to simplify the electric vehicle ownership experience.

“With a wireless connection, we’re putting battery charge and vehicle range information, along with an interactive, data-driven trip planning app, directly at the fingertips of our customers,” said Ed Pleet, product and business manager for Ford Connected Services. “This technology will keep drivers connected to vital information, enhancing their electric car ownership experience. The AT&T network is an important part of this equation and we’re pleased to have AT&T on board.”

MyFord Mobile will connect through the AT&T network, allowing the car to communicate off-board through standard wireless technology. From an internet connected mobile phone or computer, owners can:
  • Find current and projected state of charge information including estimated range and the amount of charge time necessary for additional distances
  • Program vehicle charging with utility input, allowing the car to start charging immediately or when electricity prices are lowest with the value charging feature, powered by Microsoft
  • Features powered by MapQuest available on the MyFord smartphone app:
    • Locate charging stations and get the destination sent to the vehicle
    • Know if the vehicle can reach a specific charge station from its current location with the current charge level
    • Create a journey with multiple stops, and determine the likelihood that the car has adequate charge for the full journey
    • Find the car by creating a route from a mobile phone to the vehicle
  • Receive alerts if the vehicle isn’t charging when it’s scheduled to, or if charging stops unexpectedly due to a power outage, plug removal or other event
  • Receive alerts during recharge when the vehicle has reached a particular preset charge level or has the ability to reach a particular destination
  • Engage remote vehicle preconditioning, using grid power to heat or cool the vehicle interior
  • Remotely lock/unlock doors
  • Use the built-in GPS system to locate the car
  • Download performance and system data
  • Fun ways of understanding your driver behavior, with ratings from ‘Zen’ to ‘Zippy’
  • Receive information personalized to the driver, depending on which key the driver used
How the system works
At launch, the MyFord Mobile app will be available for most major smartphones, along with a mobile web application for compatibility with any phone supporting HTML-5 browser-based access, or feature phones with WAP 2.0-supported browsers. The feature also is accessible via a secure Ford website. Owners will use the smartphone to communicate with a cloud-based highly secure server, which stores information provided by the embedded wireless module in Focus Electric. Using a cloud-based architecture ensures users will have up-to-the-minute access to information through the AT&T wireless network.

Visit our website http://www.royobrien.com for all your Metro Detroit Ford Vehicle needs, or view our new and used inventory at http://www.royobrien.com/vehicles

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ford Opens Flexible, Green Michigan Assembly Plant with Production of All-New Ford Focus

  • Transformed Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP), which will produce the fuel-efficient new global Ford Focus for North American customers, features flexible manufacturing, environmentally friendly practices and a highly trained work force
  • A $550 million investment transformed the plant, creating new benchmarks for flexible manufacturing. Multiple models to run down the same production line, making Michigan Assembly the world’s first plant to build gasoline-powered, battery electric, hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the same line
  • MAP also features one of Michigan’s largest solar-powered generation systems and electric vehicle charging stations
2012 Ford Focus - Michigan Assembly Plant
Ford Motor Company celebrated the launch of the 2012 Ford Focus with employees, dealers, suppliers, media and other invited guests at the
Michigan Assembly Plant.

WAYNE, Mich., March 17, 2011 – Ford Motor Company is celebrating production of its all-new global Ford Focus, built for North American customers in its completely transformed Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP). Following a $550 million transformation, the plant features an environmentally friendly workplace with flexible manufacturing capability and a motivated, specially trained work force ready to deliver a fuel-efficient new car to the marketplace.

“MAP epitomizes the best of what Ford stands for – fuel efficiency, quality, smart technology,” said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. “Focus delivers even more of what customers truly want and value – and this new car could not arrive in the market at a better time.”

The new Focus sets a new standard in the small car segment in North America, offering more technology and features than more expensive European cars, such as SYNC® with Traffic, Directions and Information, MyFord Touch™, active park assist and Wi-Fi access, while delivering up to an unsurpassed 40 mpg with an automatic transmission.

Fuel economy and greener driving will be built into each new vehicle slated for production at MAP. With its flexible manufacturing system, Ford workers can build multiple models on one or more platforms in the same facility. The Focus Electric zero-emission battery electric vehicle is slated to go into production late this year at the plant, followed by production of the new C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012.

With this product lineup, Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant will be the first facility in the world capable of building a full array of vehicles – gas-powered, electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid – all on the same production line.

The company’s investment in Wayne, Mich., is supported by strong partnerships at the state, county and local level, as well as by Ford’s green partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. Michigan Assembly Plant is one of 11 Ford facilities in the U.S. participating in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program initiated by Congress and implemented by the Obama administration. This green loan program is helping to develop advanced technology vehicles and strengthen American manufacturing across the country. Ford, Nissan, Tesla, Fisker and Vehicle Production Group (VPG) are all participants in this initiative.

Making Ford vehicles smarter, greener
MAP is Ford’s most flexible plant, thanks to reprogrammable tooling in the body shop, standardized equipment in the paint shop and a common-build sequence in final assembly. This flexibility allows the Ford team to produce multiple models on the same assembly line – and in even more environmentally friendly ways.

In its flexible body shop, at least 80 percent of MAP’s robotic equipment can be programmed to weld various-sized vehicles – a Ford first. And, MAP’s integrated stamping facility allows the stamping and welding of all large sheet-metal parts on-site, ensuring maximum quality and minimum overhead.

The plant also will employ an efficient, synchronous material flow, where parts and other components will move in kits to each operator, providing employees with the tools they need in the sequence they will need them.

Michigan Assembly is the first U.S. plant to commercially use a three-wet paint application that will save about $3 million in production in natural gas and electricity – without compromising Ford’s paint quality or durability.

“In most other automotive plants, we apply a layer of paint called the primer coat and we bake the unit, and then we put on the base coat and the clear coat, and we bake it again,” said John Nowak, environmental engineer. “The three-wet process allows us to put on primer, base and clear, and bake it only once. We save all the electricity from the blowers that run the booths and the ovens, plus all the natural gas from heating the air and the ovens. Ford is leading the way on this greener, cleaner paint process.”

Because of the differences in technique – including robotic processing, elimination of equipment and associated pollutants, and increased line speed – the three-wet paint process produces 6,000 metric tons fewer CO2 emissions per year compared to waterborne systems and 8,000 metric tons fewer CO2 emissions per year compared to conventional high-solvent-borne systems. There also is a Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions savings of 5 percent related to processing.

Driving on sunshine
MAP also boasts one of the largest solar power generation systems in the state as well as several electric vehicle charging stations, allowing the plant to operate on a blend of renewable and conventional electricity.

Renewable energy collected by the solar panels directly feeds the energy-efficient microgrid, helping power the plant. When the plant is inactive, such as holidays, the stored solar energy will provide power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight. The projected energy cost savings is approximately $160,000 per year.

“We have taken steps great and small to make the plant as green as possible,” Nowak said. “Our goal was to help the 4,000 Ford employees make this several-million-square-foot facility truly environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.”

The plant also has 10 electric vehicle charging stations that recharge electric switcher trucks that transport parts between adjacent facilities – saving an estimated 86,000 gallons of gas a year.

Plus, the 50 percent of the parts arriving for the all-new Focus that come from Europe, packed in cardboard, are carefully collected, sorted and recycled, as is the bubble wrap, the Styrofoam and water bottles used by employees. Even the temporary wooden partitions that were put up as the plant was revamped and remodeled were donated to the local Habitat for Humanity.

Quality focus
But equipment isn’t all it takes for a plant transformation to occur. Work force training is equally important. Doug Mertz, organization development manager at MAP, worked with the team to develop training that would focus on the plant’s operating principles – safety, quality and flexible manufacturing – with high priority placed on respect for people, product and processes.

Group leaders from Wayne Assembly Plant participated in an intense, three-week quality education, which included pre-builds of the new Focus and in-depth training on safety, ergonomics and work-station design. In addition, group leaders were trained on “soft skills,” such as developmental leadership, personality preferences and their impact on behavior, conflict resolution, change management, techniques for teaching others, and other skills to aid in situations specific to their base departments.

“Since the group leaders would be training the base operators when they came to the MAP site, we wanted them to understand not only the implication of performing their job correctly, but also the impact that performing the job incorrectly would have downstream,” said Mertz.

As the full MAP salaried and hourly work force arrived at Michigan Assembly Plant, operating patterns helped to ease the transition. The first week, the normally two-shift operation was combined into one so that group leaders on both day and afternoon shifts could work collectively with their teams and ensure standardization of work practices. Shifts continued to overlap so line employees could work together and minimize variability on job performance.

“The all-new Ford Focus is truly global in the sense that we’ve created it to satisfy the needs and wants of people all around the world,” said Plant Manager Rob Webber. “This has been an exciting challenge but one we’re ready for. We have the people and processes in place to deliver on the promise of the new Ford Focus and the many products to come.”

Visit our website http://www.royobrien.com for all your Metro Detroit Ford Vehicle needs, or view our new and used inventory at http://www.royobrien.com/vehicles

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ford most improved in Consumer Reports new car report

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Consumer Reports says Ford Motor Co. is this year's most improved automaker, hot on the heels of Japanese automakers that finished 1-2-3 in the magazine's annual rankings.

Toyota Motor Corp., which suffered in last year's assessment due to ongoing quality problems and recalls, was the 2011 comeback story, finishing third behind Honda Motor Co. and Subaru.

Dearborn-based Ford leapfrogged from 11th overall last year to fifth among the 13 companies ranked by the influential magazine.

"Ford's been doing extremely well," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, noting its reliability has steadily improved during the last five-plus years. "That's really bringing them up to getting close to Toyota."

Ford cracked the list of Consumer Reports' top picks, winning best sporty car with the Mustang. The magazine recommended 10 of the 15 Ford vehicles it tested.

Ford Mustang
Consumer Reports named the Ford Mustang best sporty car. Ford was ranked fifth-best overall in the rankings, up from 11th last year. (Ford)

Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said the "results from a reputable organization like Consumer Reports is further validation of the continued progress we're making on the quality of our products."

Read the full article From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110301/AUTO01/103010335/Ford-most-improved-in-Consumer-Reports-new-car-report#ixzz1FZlDaPvf

Visit our website http://www.royobrien.com for all your Metro Detroit Ford Vehicle needs, or view our new and used inventory at http://www.royobrien.com/vehicles