U.S.A.:SEMA 2003: Ford set to spend more money on performance vehicles
By DALE JEWETT | Automotive News
LAS VEGAS - Ford Motor Co. will spend more money on performance vehicles as part of its effort to create a slew of products, the heart of Ford's revival plan.
"For the next three to four years, we will invest more in SVT than we've ever invested before," said Phil Martens, Ford's group vice president for product development, at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show here.
Martens would not say how much money is being spent on the performance vehicles, or how much the budget for such vehicles has increased.
Ford's competitors also are putting more money into developing high-performance versions of their cars and trucks to woo enthusiasts and cast a halo over the rest of their lineups. Within the last year, General Motors and the Chrysler group have created units to develop high-performance variants. Import-brand automakers also are touting high-performance vehicles and parts.
Ford's Special Vehicle Team, or SVT, is the engineering unit that develops high-performance versions of Ford Division cars and trucks. It is one of three groups under the Ford Performance Group, created this year, to coordinate high-performance vehicles, parts and accessories for the automaker's various divisions.
SVT is putting the money toward next-generation high-performance versions of the redesigned F-150 pickup, which is badged the SVT Lightning, and the SVT Mustang Cobra, said John Coletti, head of SVT. The current SVT portfolio includes a high-performance Focus.
The introduction of the new SVT Lightning is expected in one year. The new SVT Mustang Cobra will follow the introduction of the redesigned 2005 Mustang within a year of its fall 2004 debut.
Money also is being spent on SVT versions of other vehicles in the product pipeline, Coletti said. "You also have to do more with each new generation of a product to keep it ahead of the pack," he added.
Coletti would not identify which products his group is working on, "but I like the idea of doing a sport wagon," he said. "It's a nice way to get more utility in a vehicle with carlike features."
Ford's future product plans include the Futura and Five Hundred sedans and Freestyle sport wagon.
The 2006 Futura will be one of about 10 Ford Motor vehicles to be based on the platform used for the Mazda6. One reason that Ford chose the Mazda6 as the base for many of its future products is that the platform can be equipped with all-wheel drive, Martens said. "Over time, John's group can take advantage of that," he said.
Martens said he thinks awd will become more popular with U.S. consumers in the future as a performance feature - valued either for its ability to improve traction or driving performance.
Martens said he expects the technology to be available on the Futura as well as the 2005-model Five Hundred and Freestyle.
Ford crates up big-bang V-8s
LAS VEGAS -- Ford Motor Co. is ready to sell a 420-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 engine to performance enthusiasts. The price: $14,995.
The 5.0-liter Cammer engine comes with the engine controller and wiring harness to make it easy to install in custom vehicles, said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technologies. The engine uses the basic design of the automaker's 4.6-liter, overhead-cam V-8.
Ford highlighted the engine in a Ford Focus that had been converted to rear-wheel drive. Davis said that next year Ford plans to sell a rear-drive conversion kit for the Focus, with an expected cost of about $5,000.
Ford has developed two other variations of the Cammer engine. One replaces the fuel-injection system with four two-barrel Weber carburetors, and the other adds a supercharger to boost engine output to 600 hp. Those engines will be available next year, Davis said.
(Left photo)The introduction of the new SVT Lightning is expected in one year, and should take cues from the SVT Lightning concept.
(Right photo)Ford's current SVT stable includes the SVT Focus, Mustang SVT Cobra and the SVT Lightning.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....