Where sexy gets 'green'
Paul Lienert in Reuters : There is more than a hint of green lurking in even the sexiest sports cars at this year’s Detroit auto show, which opens for media members this week.
Take the new Mustang, which this fall will offer buyers the choice of a 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 — a throwback to the classic street cars of yesteryear — or an economical 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that still cranks out an impressive 305 horsepower.
“We’re seeing a new era of performance cars that are very safe, very fuel-efficient and more mainstream,” said industry consultant Lincoln Merrihew, of Millward Brown Digital.
The latest edition of Volkswagen AG’s Golf R, which goes on sale in early 2015 in the United States, is a good example.
Under the familiar hatchback shell of the long-running Golf, VW has fitted a 290-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
VW said it is the most powerful Golf ever sold in the United States, but it also surpasses the fuel economy of the 2013 edition, with an EPA highway mileage rating of 31 miles per gallon.
To help improve the car’s stability and traction, all-wheel drive is standard.
Ford's lightweight gamble
Jerry Hirsch in The Los Angeles Times : While designing the next generation F-150 truck, Ford Motor Co. secretly substituted the steel body on some of its current pickups with an aluminum shell and delivered them to business customers.
The automaker was looking to test how lightweight aluminum alloys would hold up on the job, at a gold mine, an energy utility and a construction firm.
So it lent out the trucks in a test program — without telling the companies what was being tested. What Ford learned from 300,000 total miles convinced the world’s biggest seller of full-size pickups to make wholesale changes to the F-Series.
The 2015 model truck, introduced Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, weighs 700 pounds less than the old one. Aluminum alloys will make up the engine compartment and almost every visible metal part of the new truck — the doors, the hood, the side panels, the truck bed, the tail gate.
Being the first major truck to embrace lightweight materials represents a big gamble for Ford, said Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Capital, who estimates Ford earns about $11,000 on a pickup truck sale compared to $5,000 for a car.