Ford Motor Company hopes to earn a place on the hybrid map in the U.S. with its new C-Max.
The company knows that won't be easy.
No one comes even close to the dominant sales position of the Toyota Prius line of vehicles - the original Prius, the smaller Prius C, and the larger Prius V.
Ford's new C-Max has a major bragging point: it beats the fuel economy of the Prius V by 7 miles per gallon on the highway.
The Prius is beloved by its owners; it has one of the highest loyalty ratings of any car.
So Ford has chosen a gentle style of humor over an aggressive pitch to sell the C-Max.
Ford today launched a series of ads using a cartoon character, "La Linea," -- a revival of the classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series.
The ads show the character overcoming the performance limitations of a Toyota Prius, by driving a Ford C-Max. You can see one of the ads here:
“The ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company .
The CAW union and Chrysler have reached a tentative deal similar to the agreements reached with GM and Ford. Ford workers in Canada ratified their agreement earlier this week. GM workers are expected to do so sometime tomorrow. More from CBC Windsor.
One more agreement, and the Canadian Auto Workers will be on the road to deals with all three U.S. automakers.
The CAW and Chrysler are working on finalizing a labor contract this week.
Ross Marowits of the Montreal Gazette reports the two sides are close to reaching an agreement.
The chairman of the CAW master bargaining committee for Chrysler said the two sides made significant progress over the last 24 hours.
“I think we’re closer and closer by every minute and every hour and again we’re just working at this closing up those loose ends,” Dino Chiodo said Wednesday in an interview from Toronto.
“Unless things completely fall off the rails, which I don’t see happening at this point, I think we’re moving along very well and I’m confident that sometime today or tomorrow we’ll be able to achieve the final task of wrapping this up.”
The bargaining teams are expected to meet tonight after 7 p.m. The CAW and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement. Unionized GM workers in Canada are expected to vote on the proposed agreement today and tomorrow. Ford workers in Canada approved their agreement this past Monday. Altogether, the CAW represents around 21,000 auto workers from the "Big Three."
The CAW's president, Ken Lewenza, knows it's not going to be easy with Chrysler. Company executives have made it clear they want an agreement that lowers labour costs to match those in the United States.
Lewenza said it could be days before there is a tentative agreement between the two sides.
"We can get a deal. I've a great deal of respect for [Chrysler CEO Sergio] Marchionne and his management team," Lewenza said. "I don't hide that and I think he's got respect for our union. But at the end of the day, you can only respect each other when you dot the I's and cross the T's."
If talks stall, the CAW can strike.
But with a deal signed with Ford, and a final deal with GM expected to be approved by GM union workers in Canada this week, a strike at Chrysler plants in Canada doesn't seem likely.
We’ve got a lot going on in Michigan, to put it mildly, and I would guess that you haven’t been paying much attention to the union negotiations that have been going on in Canada.
That’s understandable -- but they could have a significant impact on the economy in this part of the world. The Canadian Auto Workers union used to be part of the UAW, before breaking off and becoming independent in the 1980s.
Three days after Bloomberg was the first to break the news that Ford's Board may promote Mark Fields to Chief Operating Officer, and that CEO Alan Mulally is to retire at the end of 2013, Reuters' Bernie Woodall and Deepa Seetharaman report this:
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's (F.N) board of directors is considering keeping Chief Executive Alan Mulally involved with the No. 2 U.S. automaker after his retirement as nonexecutive chairman, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Henry Ford's great-grandson said it plainly to the Associated Press... Ford Motor Company was once plagued by internal divisions that dragged the company down.
"At the old Ford, you had heroes and villains," [Bill Ford Jr.] said. "Now, it's, `OK, where do we have issues and how do we solve them?'"
Alan Mulally was brought in by Bill Ford Jr. in 2006 as Ford's new CEO.
Mulally has been credited with righting the ship. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton wrote about how Mulally has changed things at Ford over the last six years.
She writes about how Mulally's retirement has been a point of speculation ever since he turned 65:
...one question invariably comes up during media scrums at Ford Motor Company events. "When are you going to retire?" some reporter or other asks. Now that he's 67, the question is being asked even more frequently
Ford Motor Co. (F) directors are preparing to promote Mark Fields to chief operating officer from president of the Americas, a move that anoints him as probable successor to Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, according to a person familiar with the plan.
Bloomberg writes Mulally is expected to retire at the end of 2013. Really? So far the company itself is mum.
Ever since Ford CEO Alan Mulally turned 65, one question invariably comes up during media scrums at Ford Motor Company events. "When are you going to retire?" some reporter or other asks.
Now that he's 67, the question is being asked even more frequently -- even though the man is by all accounts healthy, extremely fit, and a fierce competitor on the tennis court and golf course - and even though he seems to relish his job.
Strike captains at the union, which represents about 20,000 members at the three companies, were to meet in Toronto on Monday to advance plans for a triple strike.
"All three bargaining committees are determined to reject these demands and reach a fair deal," the CAW said in a leaflet distributed to members on Monday.
"The union recognizes the fragility of the industry and the need to stabilize fixed costs, while finding a solution rewards members' work. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been met with equal willingness by the companies to negotiate fair terms," the leaflet said.
The last time the Canadian Auto Workers went on strike was in 1996.
Chrysler had its best month since August 2007, according to the AP, and had sales of more than 148,000 vehicles. They say their sales were led by demand for the Dodge Ram pickup truck.
Ford sold 197,249 vehicles in August, and in a press release said high gas prices led more people to their lineup of vehicles.
“As fuel prices rose again during August, we saw growing numbers of people gravitate toward our fuel-efficient vehicles – cars, utilities and trucks,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.
And General Motors sold 240,520 vehicles in August. More than Ford or Chrysler.
In their press release, GM said it's ready for gradual improvements in the economy.
“The single message Chevrolet communicated this summer was ‘confidence’ and it rang true with customers when they saw how our product lineup is being transformed,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “All four of our brands are building momentum behind new products so we’re very well positioned as the economy continues to slowly improve.”
Consumer Reports says it's not just picking on Ford with its latest blog, entitled "Why the MyFord Touch control system stinks." The magazine says Ford is one of the worst offenders, but it says any car touch screen that takes the driver's eyes off the road is a bad idea.
MyFord Touch controls the radio, heat or air conditioning, navigation, trip computer, and, well, just about everything except the gas, brakes and steering wheel.
Ford Motor Company is taking on Toyota in a market the Japanese automaker once dominated - fuel efficient passenger vehicles. The 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid and Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in Hybrid are going on sale this fall.
Ford announced today that the 2013 Ford C-MAX can go further on a tank of gas than the Toyota Prius v.
570 miles for the C-MAX vs. 450 miles for the Prius v.
The 2013 C-MAX hybrid gas-electric vehicle has an mpg rating that is the same for the city and the highway - 47 mpg. Ford notes that is 7 mpg better than Toyota Prius v on the highway.
Ford Motor Company is hiring 225 workers to run a new hybrid-electric transmission assembly line at the Sterling Heights plant.
The Associated Press reports Ford is investing $220 million in the Van Dyke Transmission plant to make the new transmission.
Ford used to purchase its hybrid transmissions from Japan, but the Van Dyke plant's new assembly line will construct Ford's first domestically designed and produced hybrid transmission.
Hybrid versions of the C-Max, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize sedans will sport the new transmission beginning this fall, as well as the plug-in hybrid versions of the Fusion and the soon-to-be-released C-Max.
In a press release, the company says the plant already added 130 jobs as part of the launch, and the remaining employees will start work by the end of the month.
Ford says the plant is now the only producer of front-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions in North America, though General Motors Co. makes rear-wheel-drive hybrid transmissions in Maryland, the AP reports.