Fording New Waters: More Leadership Changes at Ford

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2015 International CESFollowing the departure of former Ford CEO Mark Fields and the appointment of Jim Hackett to the position, Ford is continuing to revamp its leadership team. Behind the bombshell news of Fields’s ousting and Hackett’s welcoming were the appointments of Jim Farley, Joe Hinrichs, and Marcy Klevorn to the respective roles of executive vice president and president for global markets, executive vice president and president for global operations, and executive vice president and president for the Ford Smart Mobility subsidiary.

Now Ford is revealing more about the individuals who will report to this quartet of executives. Notably, Raj Nair (photo above) now holds the position of executive vice president and president of Ford North America, a good sign if you ask us because Nair notably served time on the engineering team for the 2005 Ford GT supercar and was a key figure in developing the latest GT. He also played major roles in performance products such as the Mustang, the Focus RS, and the F-150 Raptor. While autonomy may be the future of the automotive industry, Nair’s new role gives us hope that Ford’s North American operations won’t completely forfeit enjoyment behind the wheel on the way to our inevitable self-driving future.

Helping shape that future will be Sherif Marakby, who will serve as the VP of autonomous vehicles and electrification. Marakby rejoins Ford after jumping ship last year to take on the role of vice president of global vehicle programs at Uber. Both men will report to Jim Farley, with Nair’s role becoming effective as of June 1 and Marakby’s as of June 12.

Meanwhile, Nair’s old job, executive vice president of global product development, now will be occupied by Hau Thai-Tang. He will report to Joe Hinrichs beginning June 1. Thai-Thang is no amateur in the world of product development, either, as he’s served more than a quarter-century as a member of Ford’s product-development team, eventually helping bring to fruition the 2005 Mustang as the vehicle’s chief engineer.

Assisting Marcy Klevorn in shaping Ford’s future in the mobility industry are Jeff Lemmer and Neil Schloss. Lemmer takes on the role of vice president and chief operating officer for information technology, while Schloss will serve as the vice president and chief financial officer of Ford’s mobility program. Both are career employees at Ford, with Lemmer’s appointment effective as of June 1 and Schloss’s as of August 1.

2017 Toyota 86 In-Depth Review: Everything from Cargo Space to Oversteer


The battle of the small, affordable sports cars is a two-sided affair between two sets of twins. On the less practical side, there are the mechanically similar Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat 124 Spider, both of them tiny softtop roadsters. On the everyday-friendly side sit the Toyota 86, the subject of this review, and its Subaru-badged twin, the BRZ. With generous front-seat room and rudimentary back seats that fold to expand trunk space, the 86 and BRZ are fun rear-drive coupes suitable for the daily grind as well as track-day forays. READ MORE ››

2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Test: Redefining the Gas-Electric SUV


Nearly two decades after the Honda Insight introduced hybrids to America, the technology is still rare among crossovers. That could be because blending crossover and hybrid genes usually begets mediocrity. In exchange for a few more mpg, you get a heavier, lazier family hauler that’s no fun to drive. Credit Acura for upending that paradigm. The MDX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD tested here imbues Acura’s recently facelifted three-row crossover with hybrid components similar to those from the NSX supercar, and the result is a breakthrough vehicle, one that actually deserves the Sport in its name. READ MORE ››

The Lexus CT200h Is Dead: Hybrid Hatch Won’t Return for 2018


The Lexus CT200h has reached the end of the line. Lexus said the hybrid hatchback won’t return for the 2018 model year, at least in the United States; it’ll continue to be sold elsewhere for the foreseeable future. The CT first arrived in 2011 and has been Lexus’s smallest and least expensive offering for several years now.

We’re not too surprised by this news, given the CT’s age and dwindling sales numbers. Lexus sold just 8903 copies of the CT200h in 2016, a fraction of the sales numbers enjoyed by other entry-luxury models such as the Mercedes-Benz CLA-class (25,792) and the Audi A3 (31,538) during the same time frame. The CT200h’s hybrid drivetrain, shared with the previous-generation Toyota Prius, had also started to look outdated, with its 42-mpg EPA combined fuel economy far outclassed by the latest Prius and its 52-mpg rating.

2016 Lexus CT200h

So what’s next for the low end of Lexus’s lineup? A new subcompact crossover called the UX is on its way, and it is likely to have a hybrid variant that will act as a sort of de facto replacement for the CT. Until then, the cheapest way to snag a new L-badged vehicle will be the $36,260 NX crossover—or perhaps a discount on one of the remaining 2017 CT200h models still found at Lexus dealers for now.


Faraday Future’s Fate Uncertain as Partner Hits Financial Woes


Faraday Future has faced heavy skepticism at seemingly every turn of its attempt to bring an electric vehicle to market. That alone is no surprise, as anyone with a passing knowledge of the auto industry knows it is hard to start a new car company. But recent financial woes at Chinese financial partner LeEco have cast new doubts on the EV maker’s prospects.

Faraday Future was launched in 2014 by Jia Yueting, the founder of LeEco, which has been explained to Americans as the Netflix of China. LeEco, which has been a primary financial partner of Faraday Future, also sells electronics such as phones and televisions. The company expanded into the U.S. in October, but reportedly has run into financial trouble. On Tuesday it confirmed it is laying off 325 employees in the U.S., or about 70 percent of its workforce here.

The would-be EV maker has already ditched plans for a plant in California, where it’s based, and has scaled back plans for its stalled assembly plant in Nevada. Automotive News China reported Thursday that Sunac China Holdings, a development firm, would be injecting capital into LeEco, but has decided to take a hard pass on giving Faraday Future any assistance. The report says that after a visit to the plant earlier this spring, Sunac chairman Sun Hongbin lost confidence in the project, in part because he has doubts about the EV market in the face of its lack of infrastructure in the United States and the fact that it is heavily bolstered by incentives in China.

Faraday Future FF91

Just four months ago, Faraday Future was talking up much better numbers. In January, it revealed the FF91 electric crossover at the CES technology show, boasting that the EV made 1050 horsepower and claiming it could shoot from zero to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds. Its 130-kWh battery pack, laid flat across the floor as part of the company’s Variable Platform Architecture (VPA), was said to provide an estimated 378 miles of range. The company said its goal was to put the fantastically fast EV on the road by 2018.

Now it’s seeking $1 billion from large-scale investors such as sovereign wealth funds, according to Bloomberg. Stefan Krause, named the company’s chief financial officer in March, told employees earlier this week that Faraday Future will be unaffected by the cuts at LeEco, Forbes reported. But it’s looking more as if our first ride in the FF91 just might have been our last.


What’s $190,000 Between Friends? BMW M4 GT4 Now Available For Order


For $67,195 BMW will sell you an M4, a proverbial race car for the street; however, for just a smidge less than $190,000, the German company will sell you a literal race car. The BMW M4 GT4 is now available for order, and unsurprisingly the twin-turbocharged coupe means serious business.The 187-inch long race car wears a carbon-fiber hood from the water-injected M4 GTS, a pair of carbon-fiber doors, and a host of aerodynamic add-ons, including front splitters and a massive rear wing. BMW also equips the stripped-out M4 GT4 with the seat, brakes, and pedal box from the bigger BMW M6 GT3 race car. Those brakes comprise of chunky 15.4-inch front and 14-inch rear rotors, with calipers using six pistons in front and four piston at the rear.


Other racing upgrades include a built-in air jack, adjustable anti-roll bars, a set of Öhlins shocks, and an adjustable spring at each corner. While BMW went to town on the M4 GT4’s suspension components, the company played it safe with the powertrain, since GT4 rules require that the basic engine—including its position, location, and orientation—remain original. As such, the M4 GT4’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six can be traced back to the production M4. Fitted with a racing exhaust, the engine produces 431 hp, just six more than the production car. All of that power is sent rearward via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s been programmed for racing. Meanwhile, a massive 33-gallon fuel tank stretches the distance between pit stops.

BMW notes that customers will have the opportunity to begin racing the M4 GT4 in 2018, with the first customer cars expected to enter the 24 Hours of Dubai in January. Until then, BMW’s factory team is waving the M4 GT4’s flag at racing events around the world, with the car set to compete next at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in Nürburg, Germany.