Archive for Ford

New Volvos

Posted in Car conception, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , on 30/08/2013 by Alexander

Volvos of the 2000’s had quite long production runs, such as the S60 (2000-2009), the second-generation S40 (2004-2012) and the XC90 (2002-). Even though they had minor facelifts during their lifetime, they were essentially the same car, and ageing models aren’t treated very kindly in today’s market. This was mostly due to Volvo’s tumultuous tenure under Ford’s ownership, who were in trouble themselves and would keep all the good bits for Fords rather than the group’s premium brand.

However, those days are gone and it’s Chinese money keeping the Swedish boat afloat. The Volvo V40 was a promising start to the post-Ford era, a very stylish, unique and contemporary car that has, to my knowledge, garnered praise from various corners of the motor-journalistic world.

129825_4_13Volvo’s new cars look promising. First there’s the good-looking Concept Coupe that’s designed to show off the brand’s Scaleable Product Architecture (SPA) platform that will underpin all future Volvos, from the smallest to the largest cars. The car definitely reminds me of the Audi A5, which in one aspect is positive, because the A5 is very handsome, but bad in another way because no-one wants a chinese rip-off. I love coupes and I hope Volvo builds it, because their current “coupe”, the Pininfarina-penned C70 (it isn’t really a coupe, it’s a convertible), is as ugly as sin.

And other notable Volvo news is the upcoming all-new XC90. I normally don’t go for SUV’s at all, but this summer I was lucky enough to ride around in a V8 XC90, and one thing that I loved was how the centre back seat had an in-built booster seat that could move all the way forward, so my daughter had a proper view out the front. I’d buy the car just for that.


The demise of the European car market

Posted in General opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16/10/2012 by Alexander

Europe’s worsening economic situation is reflected by many things: unemployment, social unrest, tight national budgets and so on. Because this is a car blog, what matters here are new car sales, and this year they’ve been appallingly low. All the big European car manufacturers are posting record dips in sales, except for one: BMW, who have seen a 10% increase in cars coming out of their showrooms.

Renault have sold a staggering 29% less, Fiat are 19% down, Volvo slumped 17%, General Motors and Ford lost around 15%, and curiously, PSA Peugeot-Citroen, a group in the news lately for their poor financial performance and their dubious alliance with GM, lost just over 8%, practically the same as that of the VAG group of brands owned by Volkswagen. Daimler-Benz, of which Mercedes is a part of, saw nearly a 7% loss, most of which can be attributed to the slump of Smart.

In the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association report, the reader can note an odd tendency: there’s a tendency for European-based manufacturers of more affordable cars such as superminis and family hatchbacks to have registered a heavy loss (GM and Ford may be American, but their European models are conceived and built here). On the other hand, Audi was up 1.4%, Jaguar Land Rover rose a staggering 13.2%, and as mentioned, BMW got an extra 10.5%. Really shows who’s suffering and who’s benefiting from the current recession!

In the long term, I’m worried this could mean Europe’s non-German car-makers disappearing altogether. It doesn’t seem to matter how well traditionally widespread brands like Fiat and Renault make their cars, they just can’t compete with the badge-conscious, overpriced German offerings. If these sorts of brands go under, anyone who wants a frugal small car will either have to buy a bland Japanese vehicle or a Volkswagen in one of its guises (Seat, Skoda, etc.). Or we could see a BMW-owned Citroen for example, since the only real small car the Bavarians make is the Mini and all of its bastard sprogs.

Either way, dark days are ahead for everyone on the Old Continent.


Posted in Car conception, Crap cars with tags on 04/01/2012 by Alexander

Hot news today is the arrival of the new Ford EcoSport. A bit of a problem with this news: it’s not exactly “news” because the EcoSport is Brazilian-developed and has been on sale in South and Central America since 2003. People I know from Brazil say it’s practically the car that saved Ford in South America, since it’s been a best-seller there since its introduction. They also say it’s a completely awful car, and that seems to fit in with the impression I’ve had of Ford since I can remember.

My dad had a 1966 Cortina. It was cold to sit in when my dad took me and my sister to school in the morning, since its windows wouldnt close properly. It was also rather thirsty and not that reliable. All I know is that my dad got rid of it rather quickly.

What bamboozled me growing up was how popular Ford cars were. Fiestas, Cortinas, Sierras, Escorts were all the rage, and I don’t really remember anyone I knew who didn’t own a Ford a some point or other. Of course, their huge popularity in Britain was due to the fact that they were assembled in Dagenham and that Brits have always had a tendency to buy rubbish cars just because they’re British (take Morris, Austin or any other British Leyland car, for example).

Ford’s usually get high marks when appraised by auto-journoes, but get rather bad reviews by people who actually drive them around for more than an afternoon in ownership surveys. Everyone I know here in Portugal who has a Ford usually isn’t too happy with it. My uncle bought a Focus when I bought my Volvo three years ago. Both were the same age and had similar mileage, and Volvo was even owned by Ford at the time, so they should have similar underpinnings. My uncle hates his car because it coughs up water mixed with oil, and comes apart, and the rear windows fall down when it rains, so he’s gotten rid of it. Same goes with every Escort, Mondeo and Fiesta owner I know. The only person I know who seems to like his Ford is a friend of mine with a 2004 Mondeo (probably because instead of a Ford engine it has a 2.0 litre Peugeot-Citroen diesel engine). BTW, I’ve driven it and let me just say how its interior looks like it was designed by apes.

And that’s probably the biggest gripe I have with Fords. If they make a good-looking car, there’s always some small design feature that ruins the whole thing. Take for example the current Focus. Those triangular vents on the front look like the designers ran out of ideas to compose the snout of the car. The Mondeo looks like it has a rounded brick for an arse. The Fiesta’s tail lights are too small and high, while its interior looks like a chintzy attempt to make it look like it’s sheathed in aluminium. The first Mondeo’s were too curvy in a way reminiscent of boring Japanese design. The first Focus had rear lights that looked like they been inserted into wounds in the car’s body, as opposed to looking like they belonged there.

I’ve never liked the Blue Oval. It’s stupid since it’s one of the only car manufacturer symbols that’s aren’t straight forward to draw by heart, with its pathetic 19th-century lettering. Perhaps what I hate most of all about Ford was how it was founded by an anti-semite who had his own staff beaten and shot and was a toadie to one of History’s greatest plagiarists.

Lasers, baby!

Posted in Green Tech, News with tags , , , , , on 17/07/2009 by Alexander

The internal combustion engine depends on many things: liquid fuel, pistons, exhaust systems, and of course sparkplugs. Invented in the 19th century, sparkplugs have been the what makes petrol engines go bang since Mr. Benz decided to sack his horse from its carriage-pulling duties. Now, Ford and the University of Liverpool have teamed up to replace the said plugs with laser beams

The laser beam is delivered by a thin, fiber-optic cable to a focusing lens that would take up much less space than a spark plug, allowing engineers greater flexibility in designing valves and cylinders. The laser beam can be split to ignite the fuel mixture from multiple points deep in the cylinder, making for a more efficient burn than a spark plug can achieve, reducing emissions and getting better fuel economy. Another advantage to the laser system is that part of the beam can be reflected to a receiver and used to gather data on the fuel mixture and the quality of the burn.

And this isn’t merely a research project, as there are working prototypes of the system at the University of Liverpool laboratory. Ford, which has eagerly been adopting fuel efficiency technology such as electric-power steering and six-speed transmissions, reportedly will use the laser ignition system in some of its cars over the next couple of years, then spread the technology to the full range.

(via Cnet)