At Ford Motor Co., the whirlwind of change is accelerating under CEO Alan Mulally's One Ford global product plan.
In just seven years, Ford has transformed from focusing on pickups, SUVs and gas-guzzling cars. Today, Ford is a multifaceted competitor with solid green credentials and worthy entries in most segments.
Mulally did what some had been telling Ford to do for ages: Bring some of its well-received European models to North America. Now Ford has done more than that, launching them in China and elsewhere in Asia. And some of Ford's North American vehicles, including the Mustang and Edge, will be sold in foreign markets. Lincoln vehicles also will be exported to China in 2014.
Ford will introduce new engines and transmissions to improve performance and fuel economy. The first debut will be a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the Fiesta late this year. The engine, already sold in Europe, has received numerous awards.
A 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine is also on the way, along with two small-displacement V-6 engines dubbed Nano. These engines will have very compact, efficient blocks.
Ford has joined with General Motors to develop nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions. The 10-speed, designed for rear-wheel drive, could arrive in 2015. The nine-speed, for front-wheel drive, is due in 2016.
Ford and Toyota just announced they were ending a joint hybrid development project for pickups. Ford will develop its own powertrain, which will delay arrival of a hybrid pickup until later in the decade. Ford is hiring hundreds of engineers to expand its vehicle electrification capabilities.
In response to consumer criticisms, Ford also will redesign its MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch infotainment systems, incorporating more buttons and knobs.
All this will keep Ford engineers busy for the next few years.
The arrival of the 20141/2/2015 Mustang on April 17 will be the exclamation point. Shortly after that, probably in July, Ford will introduce the redesigned 2015 F-150.
During its long history, Ford Motor Co. has been defined by a few iconic vehicles including the Model T, Model A, F series and Mustang.
Not often do new versions of two of them appear in the same year, but it's happening in 2014. It's difficult to overstate the importance of the two, not just to the Ford brand, but to the entire company.