Drive Type: -
Model: Model A
Sun City, California, United States
The Ford Fusion may already beat the Toyota Camry in terms of models offered, transaction price and sales increase so far this year, but if the Fusion wants to make a run at the title of best-selling car in the US, Bloomberg reminds us that volume is key. Opening a second production line at the Flat Rock, MI assembly plant will reportedly allow Ford to produce around 350,000 Fusions annually, which compares Toyota's ability to crank out 475,000 Camrys and Honda's capacity to build around 450,000 Accords.
For the Fusion, that's an extra 100,000 units compared to the car's current pace, and the article adds that the Fusion is "Ford's best shot" to regain the passenger car sales crown - a title it (or any other US automaker, for that matter) hasn't held since the mid-1990s. Despite hiccups with recalls and fuel economy numbers, the Ford Fusion is still red hot when it comes to sales. Fusion sales are up 13 percent so far this year (compared to a 0.6 percent decrease for Camry), and its average transaction price of $26,343 is about $2,300 more than its rival from Toyota.
The Fusion's popularity has helped Ford improve its sales in California; the Dearborn-based automaker has a market share of 18 percent in the state, which is just a fraction of a percentage behind Honda. And this popularity should continue as Ford ups Fusion production and expands the model lineup even further for 2014 with a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine soon to become an option.
Recently, the finance arm of PSA/Peugeot-Citroën was in such debt trouble that it was pricing itself out of the car loan market. The rates it was paying to service its debt, which was rated one step above junk, were so high that it was forced to charge car-buying customers higher rates than they could find elsewhere. This was adding to Peugeot's already impressive woes by sending revenue out the door to competitors.
Two months ago a deal was worked out with the French government whereby the state would provide 7 billion euro ($9 billion USD) in bonds to guarantee the finance arm's loans. The French government could nominate someone to join the Peugeot board, Peugeot would guarantee more French jobs, and on top of that deal, other banks would provide non-guaranteed loans. The government would take no equity stake in the car company.
Although not yet finalized, the arrangement is meant to create some breathing room for Peugeot Finance to lower its interest rates for customers, and a government-nominated board member, Louis Gallois, was recently named to Peugeot's supervisory board. The arrangement was also openly questioned by at least three competitors: Ford, Renault - which is 15-percent owned by the French government after it received state aid - and the German state of Lower Saxony, itself a 15-percent shareholder in Volkswagen.
Last year in Monterey, we met GTR1 for the first time. Galpin Auto Sports pulled the wraps off its Ford GT-based supercar, powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.4-liter V8 good for a whopping 1,024 horsepower and 739 pound-feet of torque. The thing was totally custom-made and reportedly took some 12,000 man hours to create. And there it sat on the Pebble Beach grass, $1,000,000-plus price tag and all.
This year, the Galpin was back, albeit with one big change. That twin-turbo engine? Gone. In its place, a 5.4-liter V8 with a 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger bolted on, delivering an astonishing 1,058 hp and 992 lb-ft of torque on 110-octane fuel. 0-60? 2.9 seconds. Top speed? Somewhere above 225 miles per hour.
"Some things to keep in mind: no stability control, no traction control," were the only warnings given by Galpin's Brandon Boeckmann before taking me on a quick spin in the supercar. And after having my eyes thrown into the back of my skull a few times, laughing hysterically and trying to regain full use of my hearing after my ear drums being bombarded by the apocalyptic roar behind me, Brandon pulled over and said it was my turn, if I was ready to take the wheel.