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If you want to see a Ford racing prototype, you need look no further than the United SportsCar Championship, where the Blue Oval fields two Daytona Prototypes powered by an EcoBoost-branded 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. But according to the latest rumors, that may not be enough for Ford, which has as much brand to promote overseas as it does back home.
That could be why Racer magazine is reporting that Ford may be poised to return to Le Mans in the coming years. As we all know, Ford competed at Le Mans in the mid-through-late '60s, bringing home four consecutive overall wins with the legendary GT40. The new program would not, according to Racer, seek to relive those glory days, but would instead compete for class wins in the LMP2 category.
Currently, LMP2 regulations are somewhat split between the United SportsCar Championship in North America on the one hand and ACO-sanctioned series like the European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship on the other, but plans are underway for the regulations to be unified in time for the 2017 season. That could be when Ford is targeting its return, allowing it to compete on both sides of the Atlantic to maximize its exposure.
While its crosstown competitors at General Motors are smarting over a drastic drop in net income to $200 million in the second quarter, Ford has reason to celebrate. The Blue Oval has announced its own Q2 financial results, including a growing net income of $1.3 billion, a $78 million increase over last year. Pretax profits for the company reached $2.6 billion, up $44 million from 2013, but total revenue dropped slightly to $37.4 billion, down from $37.9 billion. Profits per share before one-time charges totaled 40 cents per share, beating Wall Street analysts' expectations of 36 cents a share.
Regionally, the Blue Oval performed strongly, as well. North America posted a record quarterly pre-tax profit of $2.4 billion, a $119 million increase. Europe also showed signs of turn around with its first profit in three years of $14 million after a loss of $306 million in Q2 2013. Ford is actually predicting profitability in the troubled region in 2015. Asia Pacific operations also performed well with $159 million in profits, up $29 million from last year. The only region where the business posted a loss was South America.
According to Automotive News, Ford also announced more precise plans about the changeover to build the aluminum-intensive 2015 F-150. In August, the Dearborn plant will shutdown for eight weeks to retool and its Kansas City plant will do the same next year.
Consumer Reports has taken aim at at small-displacement, forced-induction engines, saying the powerplants don't manage to deliver on automaker fuel economy claims. Manufacturers have long held that smaller, turbocharged engines pack all power of their larger displacement cousins with significantly better fuel economy, but the research organization says that despite scoring high EPA economy numbers, the engines are no better than conventional drivetrains in both categories. Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, says the forced induction options "are often slower and less fuel efficient than larger four and six-cylinder engines."
Specifically, CR calls out the new Ford Fusion equipped with the automaker's Ecoboost 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The institute's researchers found the engine, which is a $795 option over the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder, fails to match competitors in acceleration and served up 25 miles per gallon in testing, putting the sedan dead last among other midsize options.
The Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Sonata Turbo and Ford Escape 2.0T all got dinged for the same troubles, though Consumer Reports has found the turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the BMW 328i does deliver on its promises. You can check out the full press release below. You can also read the full study on the Consumer Reports site, or scroll down for a short video recap.