How Canada is quietly retooling its auto industry

Source: Canada Auto News

General Motors’ tech centre in Markham, Ont., is at the forefront of the automaker’s shift to high-tech research and development from traditional manufacturing.

Factory closures and job cuts get the headlines, but technology is driving an evolution of Canada’s auto sector as employers compete for highly skilled workers to support expanding research-and-development efforts into the car of the future. 

“We are interviewing every day,” said Sara LeBlanc, director of General Motors’ three Canadian tech centres, which routinely have 30-plus open positions. 

General Motors needs specialists in active-safety and driver-assist technology. Ford is looking for software developers for its “rapidly growing” vehicle-analytics framework. 

GM Canada has hired about 700 of a planned 1,000 tech specialists, mainly for its new Markham Technical Centre near Toronto that develops infotainment and autonomous-driving systems.

Ford has announced its Connectivity and Innovation Centre in Ottawa has 500 tech employees, with more hiring expected. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles which plans to end the third shift at its Windsor, Ont., minivan plant — affecting 1,500 workers — employs 180 at its Automotive Research and Development Centre in the city.

HIGH-TECH CLUSTER

Smaller tech firms that have entered the transportation space are also playing key roles in the auto sector’s only growth area. 

Like Canada’s tech-heavy universities, these companies and the public and private networks that support them have caught the attention of automakers seeking talent and ideas.

“In Toronto, there’s an amazing ecosystem where you have a lot of start-ups and incubators and accelerators. They also work with us to bring a lot of the advancements that we’re developing,” LeBlanc told Automotive News Canada

MANUFACTURING CRITICAL 

But a February study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warned that proximity to traditional manufacturing is key to the growth of r&d. 

GM’s LeBlanc, however, said there are more steps between lab and assembly line as the industry becomes more complex. 

She pointed to the autonomous test circuit slated for Oshawa where made-in-Canada software can be quickly validated on pre-production vehicles. 

“In my mind, that’s a bigger enabler [than proximity to plants] to development,” she said.

At Ford Canada, CEO Dean Stoneley said the automaker is looking to expand its r&d footprint while maintaining its manufacturing centres. 

“The two aren’t related in the sense one grows and the other shrinks,” he said. “They’re different, but equally important parts of our business. 

“What they [r&d centres] are doing is setting up this connected-car ecosystem … and we’re looking to grow that.” 

Built Ford Proud

Image result for built ford proud

From day one, we have been the car company for everyone, making it possible for hardworking, everyday people to own a vehicle. And not just any car or truck, but a vehicle that was well built. And that people would be proud to own and drive.

One hundred and fifteen years later, that is still the case. Born in Detroit, made in America and famous worldwide: We are the Ford Motor Company.

There’s a lot about us that hasn’t changed, and isn’t going to. We are still a family business. We are still builders. We are still inventor-led. We believe in looking to the future to guide our present. We believe it’s better to be right than to be first. And we believe persistence can solve anything and everything.

We’ve seen a lot of people, businesses and ideas come and go. We’ve seen many in the auto industry turn off the lights for good. But we’ve made it through the hard times and have come out stronger for them.

And soon you’ll see an onslaught of new Ford vehicles in the hot-selling SUV and truck segments. That includes the 2019 Ford Ranger pickup which starts production this month at our Michigan Assembly Plant. And the new Escape and Explorer will be available next year. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the Ford vehicle lineup will be all-new by 2020.

We are proud to be a car company – that’s the centre of everything we do and that’s why we put our family name on all that we build. From the Ford family that’s still involved with both future and daily work, to our extended family of more than 200,000 employees worldwide, we build with pride. We build with care. And everything we make is made in one way and one way only: Built Ford Proud.

Canadians on the verge of having more electrified vehicle choices

Source: Ford.ca

Ford Electric 2020
By Mark Buzzell President and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited

The automotive industry is changing, with a spirit of innovation transforming our business in ways, and at a pace, we’ve never seen before. For more than a century, Canadians have put a lot of faith in Ford, and we appreciate and value that trust. It’s why when we decide to make changes, like revolutionizing Ford F-Series pickups with high-strength aluminum alloy, we only do so after a lot of thought, research and careful consideration.

Looking ahead, Ford has a bold strategy that includes going “all-in” on electrified vehicles. Earlier this year, the company announced a US$11 billion investment in electrification, with plans to put 40 new electrified vehicles on the road by 2022, bringing more capability, performance and efficiency to nameplates Canadians already know and love, from F-150 to Mustang to our entire utilities lineup.

Yet with more electrified vehicles available to Canadians than ever before, consumer adoption remains low, at about two per cent of all new car sales.  Still, Ford remains committed to electrification because we believe a consumer shift is on the way, and it’s the right thing to do.

More than a decade ago, Ford was a pioneer with the first-ever hybrid-electric SUV – the groundbreaking Ford Escape Hybrid. A lot has changed since then, with battery research and development costs coming down, vehicle range improving, growing investment in charging infrastructure, and increased consumer adoption.

Change can be a very good thing, and Ford believes electrification is on its way to a tipping point, as improved technology, capability and infrastructure meet increasing consumer demand. These improvements are allowing Ford to bring new, capable and electrifying vehicles to market that truly meet the diverse needs and expectations of Canadians.

F-Series has been Canada’s best-selling truck for 52 years and counting, and like every truck in our lineup, the upcoming hybrid F-150 will make no compromises. Ford’s first hybrid-electric pickup will provide added capability, from low-end torque for extra pulling power to serving as a mobile generator on the job site.

When it comes to sports cars, Mustang has been Canada’s favourite since 1985, delivering the looks, options and performance customers love. The future hybrid-electric Mustang will add to the iconic pony car’s legacy by delivering V8-like performance with more low-end torque.

For Canadians looking at Ford’s leading utilities lineup, we’re going to maximize vehicle capability while improving fuel efficiency. In fact, whenever we launch a new utility in North America, we plan to offer a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or both.

All of this is possible because we’ve designed a new hybrid-electric system that’s more efficient and less expensive than previous generations, while also freeing up cargo space reserved for the battery in today’s hybrids.  That means a lower cost of ownership for customers and more cabin space.

These new electrified vehicles are an example of how Ford is bringing more emotion to our line-up, offering customers products that don’t compromise on style, room, capability or range.

However, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Ford is also bringing a suite of battery electric vehicles to market, starting in 2020 with our first-ever electric performance utility.

Just as the Escape Hybrid turned heads back in 2004, this all-new electric utility will break new ground in 2020, with expected range of at least 480 kilometres on a single charge while maximizing capability. It’s the first of many new Ford offerings that will change the way you think about electric vehicles.

At the heart of it all, we believe battery electric vehicles represent more than just a different powertrain. They also represent a lifestyle change for consumers, particularly those who have never driven one before.

It’s why Ford isn’t just developing new vehicles – we’re also rethinking the ownership journey to ensure we provide consumers a convenient and seamless experience. This means effortless and efficient charging at home and on the road, software updates over the air to enhance vehicle features, and continuously innovating battery technology to give consumers more capability, performance and range.

By offering a broad range of electrified vehicle options and addressing key consumer pain points around ownership, we can eliminate many of the barriers that have held back broader adoption. This is important, because we want to provide Canadians with vehicles and services that fit their unique lifestyles, and we want to continue to earn their trust with every decision we make.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Pricing is Finally Unveiled

Source: The Car Guide

The all-new and almighty 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will go on sale across Canada in just a few weeks and we can’t wait to drive it, especially after spending some time in the Shelby GT350.

Last week, Ford announced its U.S. pricing and a lot of fans this side of the border took note. The Car Guide contacted the PR team at Ford Canada and was able to get the missing info we were looking for. Here it is: the Shelby GT500 will start at $94,675.

For the record, the current 2019 Shelby GT350 and GT350R carry a base MSRP of $75,600 and $85,600, respectively.

These two, by the way, are available with racing stripes at $600, but the ultimate Mustang is already announcing hand-painted racing stripes costing as much as $10,000 USD. Their Canadian price has yet to be disclosed; we’ll likely find it out when the online configurator goes up on the Ford Canada website.

Let’s remind you of the eye-popping specs for the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. With 760 horsepower on tap, it’s more powerful than the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (650 hp) and Corvette ZR1 (755 hp), but not quite as much as the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye (797 hp), which is about $500 cheaper.

Photo: Ford

Drivers will also get 625 pound-feet of torque from the supercharged 5.2-litre V8 engine that runs on 93-octane premium gasoline.

As the most aerodynamically advanced, quickest-accelerating stock Mustang ever, the Shelby GT500 can go from 0-100 km/h in an estimated 3.5 seconds before completing the quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds.

Ford ups Super Duty’s off-road chops with Tremor package

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is looking to cash in on the continued popularity of pricey pickups and stave off the competition with the Super Duty Tremor, an answer to Ram’s off-road Power Wagon.

The off-road package, unveiled Thursday, will reach dealerships in the fourth quarter along with other versions of the freshened 2020 Super Duty.

It’s available on XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trims of the F-250 and F-350 with either the truck’s new 7.3-litre V-8 gas or 6.7-litre diesel engine.

The addition to Ford’s formidable Super Duty lineup is meant to capture cash that customers would otherwise spend on aftermarket add-ons. Ford says some 70 per cent of Super Duty customers accessorize their vehicles, sometimes spending tens of thousands on upgrades, and that roughly 15 per cent of buyers upgrade the stock wheels and tires within six months of purchase.

The Tremor package also helps shore up Super Duty’s dominant market position, directly confronting a popular niche filled by Ram.

“Tremor balances what customers demand in terms of work with what they need in the great outdoors,” Todd Eckert, Ford’s truck group marketing manager, said in a statement.

The trucks sit five centimetres (two inches) higher in the front with a total of 27.4 cm (10.8 inches) of ground clearance to help slog through mud, water and uneven terrain. Ford says the pickups can navigate up to 83.8 cm (33 inches) of water, a best-in-class mark.

The package comes with unique tires, wheels, suspension, shocks and dampers. It features trail control, also available on the F-150 Raptor and Ranger, and a unique rock crawl mode.

Officials did not discuss pricing or power figures but said the Super Duty Tremor will have greater towing and payload than the Ram Power Wagon, although the figures will be slightly lower than for the standard Super Duty.

The Tremor name will adorn the shocks and appear on the rear side of the pickup box.

Brian Rathsburg, Ford’s Super Duty marketing manager, said the package targets a different buyer than the F-150’s Raptor performance variant. He said it represents “an enhanced version” of the company’s FX4 off-road package that’s available on the Ranger, F-150 and Super Duty.

The FX4 and Tremor packages cannot be combined, and Rathsburg said Ford expects half of Super Duty customers to pick one or the other.

“There’s a recreation element to this,” Rathsburg said. “We see it more of an evolution of the Super Duty customer as their lifestyle changes.”

Five Things to Know About the 2020 Ford Escape

Source: Guide Auto Web

Best-selling SUV in Canada for many years, the Ford Escape was aging and the number of competitors in its segment has grown substantially. It was time for the American manufacturer to give the Escape a major redesign.

The 2020 model year will bring many changes to the popular compact SUV, and this new generation will go on sale this fall. Here are five things to know about the 2020 Ford Escape.

Transformative Design

Compared to the third-generation Escape, sold from 2013 to 2019, the new one is unrecognizable. Its creased sheetmetal has given way to a much rounder body, which is also more aerodynamic.

The Escape seems smaller, but the 2020 version actually benefits from a wheelbase stretched by 20 millimetres, while its overall length and width without mirrors have grown by 62 and 44 millimetres, respectively.

More Refined and Quieter

Four trim levels will be available in Canada, including S, SE, SEL and Titanium. Ford claims to have reduced noise and vibrations by giving the vehicle an isolated rear sub-frame, improved door sealing and acoustic laminated side glass. In high-end trims, an active noise cancellation system has also been installed inside the cockpit.

In addition, the SUV went on a diet and lost about 100 kilograms. The lighter Escape gained in performance, agility and fuel economy.

Photo: Ford

Three-cylinder Engine

As standard, the 2020 Ford Escape now relies on a turbocharged, 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. This all-new powertrain develops about 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Under light driving conditions, this engine can also shut off one of its three cylinders in order to save fuel.

Optional in the SEL and Titanium variants, the Escape still relies on a turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces some 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. In addition, the 1.5L and 2.0L powertrains can be connected to an all-wheel drivetrain.

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid

A hybrid system is making a comeback in the Escape. It consists of an Atkinson-cycle, 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, a motor-generator and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Producing about 198 horsepower, the hybrid version can be chosen in front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive configurations.

The plug-in hybrid version, offered with front-wheel drive, boasts about 209 horsepower as well as a 14.4-kWh battery pack that can be fully recharged in 10-11 hours on a domestic power outlet, or in 3.5 hours on level-2 charger. Fully electric range is estimated at 48 kilometres.

More Enjoyable Environment

The 2020 Ford Escape benefits from a greater adjustment of its telescopic steering column and, optionally, head-up display and a fully digital, 12.3-inch driver instrument panel. The SYNC 3 infotainment system is as user-friendly as ever, and a 10-speaker B&O stereo is available too. In addition, every Escape includes the company’s Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced safety features.

ROAD TEST: 2019 Ford EcoSport SES

By Shari Prymak

With crossovers gaining popularity over traditional cars, Ford’s SUV and truck-only strategy seems to be proof of the brand’s eagerness to cash in on the latest market trends. Serving as the entry-point of the Ford lineup in place of the Focus and Fiesta is the EcoSport. Though largely unfamiliar to North Americans, the India-built subcompact crossover has been available overseas for many years where it was originally designed for emerging markets. Although it fills its intended role well enough, it doesn’t take long to realize that the EcoSport is more of a rushed effort to fill a niche rather than a full-baked contender.

Thanks to its Fiesta-based underpinnings, the EcoSport is the smallest crossover on the market by a good margin. The combination of a super-short wheelbase, narrow body, and a tall SUV profile inevitably result in oddball proportions. As a result of being nearly as tall as it is long, it looks a bit like a jacked-up, rolling jellybean. Taking the looks from odd to just plain comical, my tester came with an optional Black Appearance Package which adds a matte black hood decal as if this were some kind of flashy, tire-shredding, muscle car. I suppose that’s Ford’s way of convincing us that the EcoSport actually has some form of sport going on. From a functional standpoint, the most questionable design detail is arguably the side-swinging rear door which makes loading cargo a pain from one side while simultaneously leaving you wet in the rain.

Things get a bit better on the inside with an instrument panel that includes Ford’s excellent Sync3 infotainment system. The interface for the 8 inch touchscreen is clear, well-designed, and gets Apple Carplay, Android Auto, and even Waze for navigation duties. The rest of the controls are equally straightforward and easy to use, and the driver’s seat is positioned high up for a nice commanding view of the road. The use of materials and finishes are generally acceptable with a few obvious signs of cheapness here and there, but that’s far from the biggest issue. The unfortunate consequence of the EcoSport’s mini-ute proportions is serious lack of passenger and cargo space. The rear seats are especially cramped and the cargo area is smaller than that of many hatchbacks. Those looking for actual utility in the EcoSport’s sport utility vehicle designation will likely come away disappointed.

The EcoSport comes with a choice of two drivetrains. Front-wheel drive models get a turbocharged 1.0L 3-cylinder engine, producing 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque, matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Moving up to all-wheel drive upgrades the engine to a 2.0L 4-cylinder producing a healthier 166 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque. The EcoSport can certainly use every pony it can get, because, even with this upper-trim powertrain, the performance is anything but sporty. Acceleration feels sluggish especially at highway speeds where there is barely enough power to manage a simple passing maneuver. Modest power levels would be acceptable in a small vehicle such as this if, on the flip side, it were highly fuel efficient. Unfortunately, the best I could squeeze out of it was 10.5L/100km around town and about 8.5L/100km on the highway, which is worse than many larger, peppier rivals.

Although it is ironically in short supply of both eco and sport, the EcoSport is still quite a pleasant city runabout. Its tiny dimensions make it a total breeze to maneuver and park around tight city streets more so than just about any other crossover on the market. Its short wheelbase also helps give it a tight turning circle and a rather nimble feel through corners. The downside to this is a somewhat bouncy ride over broken pavement, though it is still acceptably smooth otherwise. The bigger issue with its unique dimensions, however, is susceptibility to crosswinds while travelling at freeway speeds, which can give it a tippy feel on a windy day.

The EcoSport’s MSRP ranges from $21,849 in base S trim up to $30,349 for the top-spec Titanium trim before extras. Those who want the all-wheel drive 2.0L engine combo will have to splurge for the SES trim, which goes for $28,849. Features on the SES include blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a sunroof, navigation, 4G LTE Wifi Hotpot, and a cloth-vinyl combination seat material called “ActiveX.” Even so, it is still pricier than comparably-equipped key rivals such as the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Kicks. Moreover, active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are not even available as options, which is just unacceptable for a new vehicle in this day and age.

It may sound like I’m having a serious downer on this car, which may not be entirely fair. To its credit, the EcoSport offers many desirable features and may be an attractive option for those who want an all-wheel drive crossover in the smallest, most city-friendly package available. For just about anyone else, however, it’s easily outmatched by rivals like the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Kona, Subaru Crosstrek, and Honda HR-V. All offer more practicality, performance, safety features, better fuel economy, more agreeable styling, and some even manage to do so at a much lower price point. If the EcoSport represents Ford’s attempt at going all-in on trucks and SUVs, they better take a second look at that hand, because this is a measly two-pair at best.

Bell and Ford partner in new Connected Car initiative

Built-in Wi-Fi hotspots in Ford and Lincoln vehicles powered by Canada’s best national mobile network

MONTRÉAL, Oct. 18, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – Bell today announced it is the first Canadian wireless service provider to enable built-in Wi-Fi hotspots in supported Ford and Lincoln vehicles with Bell’s Connected Car – Built In service. Available vehicle diagnostics services will also be supported on Bell’s national LTE network.

“Drivers and their passengers can now connect to Wi-Fi just as conveniently in their Ford and Lincoln vehicles as they do in their homes,” said Nauby Jacob, Vice President of Products and Services at Bell Mobility. “As a Canadian leader in Internet of Things innovation, Bell is proud to partner with Ford to bring car owners across the country an even better in-vehicle experience.”

Ideal for mobile workers, commuters and long family trips, Connected Car enables passengers to browse, stream and share on Bell’s broadband LTE wireless network when they’re on the road or nearby the vehicle when it’s parked. The Wi-Fi hotspot features a dedicated external antenna, supports up to 10 devices at a time, and is powered by the vehicle’s electrical system rather than the device battery.

As advancements in technology continue to connect people and enhance their lives, Ford is committed to taking the lead. In-vehicle Wi-Fi allows customers to stay connected with their friends, family and the world around them. From streaming music and driver assist technologies, to navigation and everything in between, connectivity is the key.

“Having reliable Wi-Fi on the go is no longer just ‘nice to have’ – it’s become a ‘must-have,’ and Ford recognizes that,” said Marc Vejgman, Connected Vehicle Marketing Manager for Ford of Canada. “Connecting our vehicles is part of building smart vehicles for a smart world, and we look forward to working with Bell to offer Ford customers another way to stay connected across Canada.”

Ford customers can take advantage of a complimentary wireless data trial that expires at the end of 3 months, or after 3 GB of data is used, whichever comes first. After their trial is complete, customers can stay connected by signing up for a data plan. Bell customers can share data from their Bell Share plan with Connected Car for $10 a month, with 1 GB in bonus data per month for 24 months. Bell Connected Car – Built In will be available for supported Ford and Lincoln vehicles beginning November 6, 2018.

Connected Car is the next evolution in the smart vehicle experience and part of Bell’s IoT leadership to enable the connected vehicles, homes, businesses and smart cities of the future.