Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Ford slashes debt and keeps high performance vehicles

Ford could be proof that despite the recession, there's still a healthy demand for high performance vehicles. While GM was forced to disband its High Performance Vehicle operations team as part of their reconstruction plan, Ford’s SVT (Special Vehicles Team) remains intact, and more high performance blue ovals are on the way. 

Since completing their restructuring initiatives April 3, Ford reportedly cut their debt by $9.9 billion from $25.8 billion at the end of December by swapping company stock and cash. (1)

“By substantially reducing our debt, Ford is taking another step toward creating an exciting, viable enterprise," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement. "As with our recent agreements with the UAW, Ford continues to lead the industry in taking the decisive actions necessary to weather the current downturn and deliver long-term profitable growth." (2) 

Now, Ford is set to release several high performance vehicles that bank on the belief that car enthusiasts still want new toys, recession be damned.

Ford is considering bringing the 305 hp Focus RS, already sold in Europe to the U.S.. The three-door hatchback is powered by a turbocharged 2.5 liter five-cylinder Volvo engine and would sticker above its predecessor, the $19,205 Focus SVT which was discontinued in 2004. (3) 

AutoWeek reported that, “Hermann Salenbauch, Ford Motor Co.'s director of advanced product creation and global performance, says the decision to sell the Focus RS here will depend on reaction from U.S. car enthusiasts, such as Focus SVT owners.”

“Ford is looking for ‘feedback from the media and customers,’ he says. ‘How much do they like it? Is it really what they want? We are pretty confident that it is.’” (3)

In addition to the possibility of the Focus RS, the 2010 Ford F150 SVT Raptor, by all means a street legal off-road racer, is slated for U.S. release this summer. The Raptor is purpose built to tear through the desert at speeds well over of 80mph (watch in new videos) with a custom built suspension that allows 13 in. of wheel travel in the rear and 11.5 in the front. Under the hood, buyers have the option of a 6.2L overhead-cam V-8, more commonly known as “Boss,” producing roughly 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. (4)

All told, the Raptor is a full 7 in. wider and 2 in. taller than a standard F-150 Supercrew. The Raptor’s base price has yet to be announced, but it would be safe to assume that it costs a dollar or two more than the average half-ton and probably doesn’t go easy on the petroleum either.

Only the future will tell if Ford’s move to turn their flagship economy car into a tire burning speedster and their already thirsty F-150 into a full fledged off-road terror will cater properly to American car enthusiasts. If high performance vehicles such as these can still be successful, even in niche markets with the economy being as it is, Ford could be poised to provide a clear example that economical cars might not entirely represent the golden ticket to recovery for the auto industry. After all, there’s still plenty of people around that like horsepower. 

Sources:

(1-2) www.autonews.com/article/20090406/ANA02/904060282/1200
(3) www.autoweek.com/article/20090406/CARNEWS/904069995
(4) www.motortrend.com/features/auto_news/2008/112_0901_2010_ford_f150_svt_raptor/index.html




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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.





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